Alison Mirams is an inspiring leader with a focus on diversity, inclusivity, and wellbeing at the workplace. Having worked in the construction industry for 25 years, Alison is on a mission to address the systemic issues in the industry to help attract and retain women.
Alison is the founding CEO for boutique tier one construction company, Roberts Co. The company was founded in January 2017, and within the first five years it had 280 employees, and a workbook of over $1.5 billion.
06:40 An advocate for a five day work week in the construction industry, Lauren asks Alison what she had learned in the process of disrupting the normal expectations.
- Alison highlights that the female participation rate in the construction industry has not changed in the last 35 years. She also adds that it has the second highest gender pay gap, high divorce rate, and suicide rate.
- According to Alison, the working hours expected in the construction industry discourages women from participating. Women leave the industry or do not accept promotions because they usually have to do the lion’s share of caring for the kids.
- Alison rolled out a five day work week while on a hospital construction project and a study reported workers had better work-life balance, better relationships on-site, workers were less fatigued, happier and healthier. It allowed workers to spend more time with their partners and their kids.
- Alison says the five day work week has attracted some women back into the industry because it allows them to have a career that compliments their life.
11:55 Alison discusses industry push backs she had to overcome while promoting the five day work week.
- Alison says the push backs were all from top level males who actually work a five day.. The push backs were on the basis of losing efficiency and extending project completion time.
- On the contrary, Alison, through her implementation, found that workers were more efficient on site with the shorter work week.
- She also saw a direct correlation between reduced work hours and safer work sites.
15:00 Alison reflects on what inspired her to pursue the mission to improve wellbeing at a workplace.
- While working at Lendlease, she realised that a company’s decision to have adequate staff allowed her to manage her life as a mother and also keep her career.
- Also an unfortunate event of losing her best friend, made her reassess her choices in life and she was determined to find a better way. When she founded Roberts and Co, she wanted to give people control over their lives and also have a fulfilling career.
17: 57 Lauran asks Alison if she had learned any skills being a parent that are transferable to the workplace.
- Alison compares maternity leave, and the challenges women overcome in that period to a leadership course. Women have to manage competing timetables, competing interests, operate under conflict, and as they become better at it, she believes it makes them more valuable to the company.
21:40 Lauren is keen to learn how clients can contribute to improve the industry.
- Alison says clients’ need to care about the people delivering the project, not just the profit.
- The industry norm for calculating lost time injury conveniently ignores the negative impact of poor wellbeing of the workers on site, which encourages clients to push the delivery of a project at the expense of the health of the workers.
- Alison reiterates that there is no impact on time working five days a week. At Concord Project, she says the five day work week arrangement incentivised subcontractors and workers to work together to be more efficient.
24:57 Lauren asks Alison to talk about her mentors who shaped her career.
- Alison contributes her career progression to two male mentors in the industry.
- Her first mentor John, took her to every site visit and invested in her professional development while her second mentor Jim McGreevey offered her a promotion everytime he got promoted.
- Alison values having a coach or mentor, and the comfort in admitting what she does not know. She believes leaders today get in trouble because they feel like they have to know everything.
30:20 Alison shares some of the important values to instil in our children.
- Alison reflects the most important thing in business is relationships.
- She puts in the effort to write back to people who contact her on LinkedIn, and talk to workers on site.
37 04 Alison shares hopes for the changes she would like to see by the time she retires.
- She hopes the five day work week becomes the industry norm.
- She believes the five day work week will improve the female participation in the construction industry.
- She says the six days a week structure was introduced in the early 90s to address rises in interest rates, when the cost of time was enormous. This is not the case anymore, and so she believes the industry needs to recalibrate.
39:19 Alison discusses the realities of the gender pay gap in the construction industry.
- Roberts Co set salary bands for the different levels in the organisation. Alison found that when women were employed according to the salary band, some of them saw their salary increase by up to 40% while she has yet to fix one man’s salary.
You can connect with Alison Mirams on LinkedIn.
About your host:
Lauren Karan, Director and Founder of Karan & Co.
With over a decade of experience as a recruiter and development coach, Lauren Karan found that her priorities rapidly changed after the birth of her two children. In 2022 she founded Karan & Co flipping the out-dated recruitment model with a focus on retention through career coaching and development.
Lauren believes that If opportunity doesn’t knock, you have to build a door – and it’s this same philosophy that inspired her to create the Building Doors podcast.
The Building Doors podcast is for anyone undergoing a transformation in their life. Regardless of whether you feel stuck in your current role, need some inspiration on what steps to take next, want to learn how to level up as a business owner or simply want to listen to the experiences of successful entrepreneurs and industry professionals, the Building Doors podcast is all about unlocking your potential.
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