Inspiring inclusion of women in a greener, kinder, connected London

Whether as an individual or an organisation, inspiring inclusion is something that should be a priority all year round, but with it as the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, the moment serves as a timely opportunity to reflect on what has already been achieved and what is still left to do.
Places for London is Transport for London’s (TfL) wholly owned commercial property company in the UK, meaning that it spans both the transport and construction sectors.
Both of these are industries that are typically male-dominated for a variety of reasons, such as how they are perceived and staff turnover, and between them, they need to build on the progress they’ve already made to inspire more people – especially women – to join their sector. This is especially important given that research undertaken by YouGov in 2023 for Places for London showed that only 36 per cent of those surveyed between 11-18 in London and the South-East were interested in having a job in the built environment sector. The data was even more stark when broken down by gender, with just 30 per cent of female students being interested, compared to 42 per cent of male students.

An inclusive and representative city and wider industry


Across Places for London, there are a number of programmes and activities underway to make sure it plays its part in making both London and the wider industry more inclusive and representative. This is not just the case of doing ‘the right thing’, but because it makes clear sense from a business perspective as well.
Working with its partners, Places for London will be delivering 20,000 homes, including high levels of affordable housing, making it one of the largest developers in London. However, research from the Construction Industry Training Board has shown that an additional 22,800 workers are expected to be required to meet construction demand in Greater London by 2027. There is therefore a clear need to build a talent pipeline to meet this requirement and this can only be done successfully if the construction industry is seen by everyone as an attractive career path. A failure to do so will lead to a failure to deliver the homes that the UK’s capital urgently needs.
In order to tackle this challenge, Places for London is working alongside its development partners to deliver an educational engagement programme, which helps to engage schools and young people about the built environment. Key to this has been creating a better understanding of what the built environment actually is for younger people, and how many diverse jobs and opportunities there are within it. Although it affects everyone’s daily lives, many don’t realise the impact it has on them – from the homes they live in to the streets, tracks and roads they travel on - and how the roles aren’t necessarily just those on site (or when they are, how many there are to choose from).
The programme has already reached more than 3,500 young people and enabled more than 80 students to undertake work experience placements. It has also enabled students to be exposed to a wide range of role models by facilitating more than 1,300 hours of industry expert volunteering time. This means young people get to meet people actually working in the sector day-to-day, and hear about their real-life experiences. This can often be the most inspiring way to get a young person to consider their next steps as they can more directly put themselves in someone else’s shoes and see the difference they make through their job. This can be especially effective for those who don’t expect or feel to be represented in the industry, such as young women, as this allows them meet and engage with female role models they might not otherwise have.

Inspiring inclusion in projects and developments

London urban development

As one of London’s most significant landowners and developers, Places for London also has a responsibility to inspire inclusion in terms of what it is delivering. Throughout its developments, it is increasingly looking for new ways to ensure that underrepresented groups are getting their voices heard as projects and developments are being shaped and taken forward. For example, when developing the designs for its arches in Kilburn, Places for London collaborated closely with the local community to ensure their needs were prioritised. It was important to encourage feedback that reflected the diversity of the community, so a range of considerations were taken into account when carrying out engagement. This included hosting both online and in-person sessions, providing a variety of times for people to give their feedback at a time which better suited their needs, such around childcare or working hours. It also involved different methods of engagement, such as questionnaires, interviews, and design exhibitions, so people could share their vision for what they wanted. This led to almost 60 per cent of the survey responses for the Kilburn Arches coming from women and the majority of engagement workshops or exhibitions having at least 50 per cent representation from women.

Inclusive participation fosters positive results

Similarly, working with Barratt London at Wembley Park, Places for London was keen to bring forward play space that would be attractive to teenage girls as well as teenage boys. To ensure this, Places for London, Barratt London and their design team hosted workshops with students from the nearby Ark Academy. The pupils were asked to provide their ideas and aspirations for the space – and, amongst other ideas, they suggested adding a canopy to the play space area. They were later shown how their input had informed the updated designs. Places for London has implemented a similar approach to play space at its developments in Edgware, working with Ballymore, and in Kidbrooke, working with Notting Hill Genesis. At the latter, female students suggested a wide range of ideas for the play space, which led to a new design that included alternative exercise equipment rather than the types that can often be used predominately by boys and men. The students also got the opportunity to review the new design, so they could recognise where their ideas had been taken into consideration and provide further constructive feedback if they felt it was still needed. This demonstrates how a series of tangible actions – which might seem separate - can together interlink to inspire inclusion and make a far wider impact.
By creating a virtuous circle, both organisations and individuals within those organisations can be instigators for real change that will make both the organisations and the places that people spend time in more inclusive.



IWD Toolkit

Join the global IWD Community