The Women’s Trade Network will provide training, support and access to roles to increase gender diversity in trade roles.

London - 8th March 2021 - Nine of the largest names in the UK’s housing industry have joined forces to launch the Women’s Trade Network. Founded by Plentific, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), Peabody, Notting Hill Genesis, L&Q, Places for People, Women’s Pioneer Housing and Direct Works, the network’s mission is to increase the representation of women in trade roles. 

Collectively, the founding partners own and manage more than 350,000 properties across the United Kingdom, represent more than 16,000 housing professionals and support the maintenance and repairs of almost 2.5 million homes. 

Currently, just two percent of tradespeople in the UK are female, a statistic that has barely changed in 40 years. Many women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Women represent 57 percent of the workforce in closed sectors such as retail, and arts and leisure and with a lack of certainty about when they might reopen and concerns over further lockdown measures in the future, many are looking for viable alternatives. The trades can offer a hugely fulfilling career to women, yet the stereotypes attached often deter them from entering the profession. The aim of the Women’s Trade Network is to increase awareness of the variety of roles available to women through DLOs, contractors and self-employment, as well as offer routes into training and employment. 

In addition to joining the network, participating organisations have also signed the Women’s Trade Network Pledge, a commitment to supporting long-term change in the industry. While increased awareness and access to jobs will encourage more women into trade roles, structural changes are also required in order to increase female representation in the industry. The Pledge outlines achievable ways partners can remove barriers, empower and support women as well as increase access:

Remove Barriers 

  • Commit to ensuring an inclusive workplace, offering flexible working arrangements, equal pay and equal opportunities
  • Commit to sharing best practices with fellow Women’s Trade Network organisations, as well as the wider industry, to support long term change in the sector and remove barriers industry-wide

Empower and Support

  • Offer support and help to build a network of role models and mentors for women entering the profession
  • Spread awareness and highlight the variety of roles available to women through our communications channels, partners, networks and residents

Increase Access 

  • Commit to sharing job opportunities, including apprenticeships and traineeships, with women who have been through the programme when a relevant position becomes available
  • Provide residents with the ability to request female-operatives and assign work orders to women in those cases

Open to any women in the UK, irrespective of her age, background or experience, the programme will offer two streams. The first will be open to women already qualified in a trade and looking for advice on training on starting a business, while the second will provide entry-level training to women without relevant qualifications. 

Cem Savas, co-founder and CEO of Plentific: “Through our work with both housing providers and contractors, we’ve seen there is a huge opportunity for women in trade. Our housing partners have told us of their need to fulfil resident wishes by offering the ability to select female operatives, while our contractor partners have told us of their difficulty in attracting women to their available roles. It’s clear that there is far more opportunity for women in trade roles than they may realise and we’re thrilled to be launching the Women’s Trade Network to not only increase representation in the industry but also change lives.”

Denise Fowler, CEO, Women’s Pioneer Housing: “As a housing association for independent women, we want to be able to offer our residents a tradeswomen to carry out work in their property, if they request it. At the moment, that’s an incredibly difficult thing to be able to fulfil simply because there are not enough women in the industry. The Women’s Trade Network will change that, not only offering female residents more choice but also opening up career opportunities that many may previously have not considered.”

Ashling Fox, Chief Operating Officer, Peabody: “I am delighted to be part of the founding team for the Women’s Trade Network. There are so many opportunities for women to have a successful career in trade, but the perceived barriers to entry make people discount it. Peabody has a long track record of supporting people into work and gaining better access to education and training and this is a great opportunity for our residents and young people. Breaking down barriers to employment will be a core element of the Women’s Trade Network and in the coming years I hope we can really make a change in the industry.”

Gerri Scott, Group Director, Customer Service, L&Q: “Inclusion is one of L&Q’s five core values and we are passionate about greater representation across the whole industry. The Women’s Trade Network will enable more women to access roles they may previously have thought of as off-limits to them and drive a change in how these jobs are perceived. We’re excited to be a driving force in changing perceptions.”

Elly Hoult, Group Director of Assets, Notting Hill Genesis: “There should be no job that is closed to anyone because of their characteristics. Stereotypes about trade roles have long deterred women from pursuing it as a career, but there are a variety of opportunities available across housing providers, contractors and self-employment. The Women’s Trade Network will highlight those opportunities and show that there is a place for everyone.”

Debi Marriott-Lavery, Group Executive Director Affordable Housing, Places for People: “We are delighted to be a part of the Women’s Trade Network, and we’re committed to working with our partners to break down the barriers which prevent women from pursuing trade roles. Being part of this pledge enables us to drive forward much-needed change for women in the industry, as well as developing the diversity and skillset of our workforce, supporting our vision to build sustainable communities that work for everyone.

Russell Thompson, Chair, Direct Works and Managing Director Places Management, part of Places for People: “Direct Works is committed to reshaping the future of housing maintenance and that includes increasing diversity in the industry. Through our network, we’ve witnessed how underrepresented females are in all manner of trade roles and that needs to change. The founding partners of the Women’s Trade Network have ambitious goals and, together, we can really make a difference.”

The Women’s Trade Network is currently recruiting for supporting partners who share its vision on this issue, who are passionate about increasing female representation in trades and who want to make a long-term change to the industry. For further information and to sign up visit: