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New Boss Wants to Pave the Way for Young Black Women to Work in Housebuilding

Published on: 30 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 31 Oct, 2020

Dawnet McLaughlin

Dawnet McLaughlin, new MD of Guildford-based housebuilder Vistry Southern, hopes her success will attract more black women to work in the sector. She said young black people feel there are not enough role models in housebuilding and she wants to help pave the way for her four young nieces.

Ms McLaughlin, whose company includes Bovis and Linden Homes, said more needs to be done in schools and colleges to promote the wide variety of roles in the sector.

“My dad was a carpenter by trade, so that attracted me to the industry in the first instance,” she said.

“I took an apprenticeship as a trainee surveyor after my A-Levels and went on to complete a surveying degree on a part-time basis, one day a week, while employed in the industry. I then went on to achieve an MBA, again while working.

“I’m delighted to be MD of Vistry Southern. We need to push the diversity message and promote the wide range of job roles there are in the industry.

“We’ve got so many disciplines and we need to make the most of all the talent and potential that’s out there. You still hear about construction and housebuilding not being pushed at school career events and for me, I’d like to get more involved in that.

“There are not enough black women in the housebuilding industry. I am meeting black women in the sector, a few of whom I have involvement with at Vistry, but not many.

“We need to get the message out that there is the opportunity to do something different in Vistry, and the sector as a whole, and there are people like me in different job positions in housebuilding to set that example.

“The one thing I sometimes feel for young black people is they don’t always have the examples or role models to say, ‘You can do that’, particularly black women. I’d like to say this: the opportunities are there for you.

“At Vistry, we are more diverse and not as ‘traditional’ as other housebuilders I have experienced and I felt that as soon as I walked into the company. That’s particularly true at the top of the business.”

Ms McLaughlin said demand for new-build homes for Vistry Southern, which covers Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex, had remained high over the past six months.

“A lot of our locations are near the south coast and we’re seeing a lot of people moving out of London into Surrey and Hampshire, so we are getting the benefit.

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