City Building celebrates female role models in construction

Melissa Meehan

AHEAD of International Women’s Day 2023, Glasgow construction business City Building is highlighting the success of females within its workforce.

Melissa Meehan, an account manager within the sales department, joined the firm ten years ago as a modern apprentice, working in the creditors department before rising through the ranks to the role of sales account manager shortly before going on maternity leave.

Melissa said, “When I found out I was pregnant, I was concerned about my career. I think every woman is. When you have kids, there’s this automatic societal expectation that as a woman you will be the one to put their career on the back burner to raise the family. Whether that is to completely stop working or to significantly cut your hours while taking up more at home responsibilities.

“I didn’t want that to be the case for me. I didn’t want to be seen as a part-timer or as someone who wasn’t serious about their career. I decided to apply for a promotion – to sales account manager – even though my manager already knew I was pregnant and going on maternity leave shortly after. At the time I thought, what do I have to lose? I was great at my job, why should I not go for it. Just because I was having a child didn’t mean I didn’t deserve to progress.

“I was honestly shocked when I found out that I had been successful. Not because I didn’t think I deserved the promotion but because they made the decision to promote someone who was going to be going onto maternity leave. You just don’t hear about that happening to women. Normally, you see motherhood as something that puts your career on hold until you can fully re-join the workforce.”

City Building features a range of flexible working practices, launched in 2019 in association with Family Friendly Working Scotland (FFWS), that are available to employees with childcare commitments or those with wider caring commitments. This includes having greater flexibility over start and finish times and home working where appropriate.

Reflecting on her return to work after the birth of her son, Melissa added, “Coming back to work after maternity leave is difficult. You’re out of the working environment for such a long period of time, and now you must balance working with looking after a small child. But City Building offered flexible working conditions that helped elevate this pressure and help me settle back into working life.

“This flexibility is not limited to parents though. City Building is also super flexible for those studying or taking part in extra qualifications as part of their job role. Before I had my son, I completed a HNC in accountancy while working at City Building, getting a day a week to study and complete course work.”

In March 2022, City Building launched its first-ever working group dedicated to boosting female representation within the company. In a report undertaken by GenAnalytics, it was found the business had a 50/50 split between female and male within its senior management team and the highest proportion of female craft trade apprentices in Scotland.

On the current level of female representation at City Building, Melissa said, “One of the things I love about City Building is the number of strong female role models there are for young women coming into the company. It’s not a boys club here, like you would expect within construction. This is mirrored both in the offices and onsite, with more and more young women coming in at apprenticeship level and learning a trade with City Building.

“My advice for young women coming into the workplace is to take every opportunity available and just go for it. There are so many chances out there for you to grow, gain qualifications and build your CV. There are not the same barriers to your progression that there were before. If you want to have a family, to further your education, or just make your mark in an area that’s traditionally male dominated, City Building is there to support you.”