Two female construction workers in hard hats and Hi Vis vests

In our continuing series of Black History Month profiles, we spoke to Simone Codrington, Sustainability Manager at construction company Willmott Dixon.  


Can you tell us about your background and how you initially got involved in the construction industry? 

Simone: “I studied environmental science from GCSE level to degree level, as I was passionate about sustainability. I’ve always been very interested in the environment, and after having a really enthusiastic environmental science teacher at school I became more and more passionate about the subject. This led to me pursuing it professionally and choosing to work in the construction industry where I knew I could have a larger role in reducing human impact on the environment.” 


Can you share some examples of projects or initiatives where you've played a significant role or made a positive impact on your team or company?

Simone: “A few years into my role, I decided to start organising litter picks with the office team, which had really positive effects on people's wellbeing and motivation. I also partnered with the local Canal and Rivers Trust for this initiative, which we've been supporting ever since and have helped fund parts of their canal improvement works.  

I've been on the local Diversity and Inclusion steering group at Willmott Dixon for a couple of years now too, and have supported regional and Group-wide initiatives, as well as running my own.  

I also support career initiatives. As there are skills shortages in our industry, organisations play an important role in inspiring younger generations to choose a career in construction. As an ethnic minority female working in STEM, I take an active role in supporting colleagues to raise awareness that there are fantastic careers available in construction for everyone – whatever their gender or ethnicity.” 


In your opinion, what are the advantages of having a diverse workforce in the construction industry?

Simone: “The more diverse the workforce, the more perspectives and ideas there are.  The construction industry can often be slow to change, but these diverse perspectives will help us to keep up with the modern world. By embracing diversity, it can bring new ways to address the challenges faced by the industry and make construction a happier, safer and more effective place to be.”  


Have you seen any positive changes or improvements in the industry regarding diversity and inclusion during your career?

Simone: “I've seen a lot more training available and a lot more campaigns around diversity and inclusion, particularly here at Willmott Dixon. These are great for raising awareness and teaching people how to call out bad behaviour, but I still think there is a long way to go before construction, like many industries, is truly diverse and inclusive.” 


How can construction companies and organisations better attract and retain talent from diverse ethnic backgrounds?

Simone: “Having more diverse hiring teams, offering mentor programmes, researching what barriers people from ethnic backgrounds may be facing when joining companies, or reasons why they may leave. And, most importantly, by doing more than just talking about diversity and inclusion, but actually ensuring that people are respected and valued for all that they can bring to an organisation so that it's part of the culture.”

Feeling inspired? Share your stories of influential construction professionals today

If you want to highlight someone in construction who has inspired you, or to simply share your experience of diversity and inclusion in the industry, get in touch with Go Construct