Dulux Academy highlights vital work of female decorators in support of International Women’s Day

As the home of painting & decorating excellence, Dulux Academy is dedicated to promoting the profession and providing accessible, industry-leading training that supports the development of trade professionals through every step of their career. From apprentices to career changers, Dulux Academy aims to grow a diverse and gender-inclusive workforce that will address the industry skills gap and bring new talent to the sector.

As part of its commitment to drive gender equality, Dulux Academy is celebrating International Women’s Day by highlighting the important role women play in painting & decorating and growing awareness of the challenges they face to bring about positive change for female workers in the industry.

In support of this year’s theme of ‘Break the Bias’ for International Women’s Day, Dulux Academy has teamed up with On The Tools – the largest online construction based community in the UK – to create the Women On The Tools whitepaper, which identifies the inequalities and challenges faced by tradeswomen in painting & decorating and construction. The report also looks at how these industries can adapt to make them a safer environment for women and encourage more females to join.

Of the more than 470 tradeswomen surveyed for the whitepaper, a total of 72% of female painters and decorators said they had experienced discrimination while working, while 7% said they had seen discrimination against other female workers. The report also found that only 29% of tradeswomen felt like they were paid the same as their male counterparts.

In addition, 16% of female painters and decorators working on construction sites said they have access to an on-site women’s toilet less than half of the time, while 11% said they never have access to an on-site women’s toilet.

Despite these concerns, 77% of self-employed tradeswomen who responded said they were satisfied with their careers. The whitepaper also highlighted the need to promote female role models to tackle discrimination and improve opportunities for women joining the industry. Just under a third of respondents (30%) called for more tradeswomen to be showcased in primary schools and places of higher education, while 15% believed promoting tradeswomen at open days and career events would help encourage new female joiners. The full report can be found here.

Vickie Mather, Dulux Academy Lead at AkzoNobel, said: “Looking at these findings, it’s clear that more must be done by the painting & decorating industry to end discrimination against women once and for all. For many women, there remains a large barrier to joining the trade due to perception and gender bias. There’s also an overall lack of positive representation of female trade professionals, meaning that many women feel that the industry isn’t open to them.

“At AkzoNobel, we’re leading the charge for inclusion across all areas of our business and the wider painting & decorating sector. We’re dedicated to positively showcasing the brilliant women working in our industry to further normalise painting & decorating as a career option, break down stigma, and inspire the next generation of tradeswomen.”

Clare Harding, Brand Director of On the Tools, said: “The level of discrimination the report reveals is outrageous, but despite all hurdles, it can be a great industry to join. Listening to tradeswomen and giving them a voice is vital if we want things to change.”

“Through working in partnership with brands and industry supporters, we’ve been able to also place a spotlight on women who thrive, and the opportunities out there.”

With women currently making up just 20% of industry appliers, Dulux Academy is strengthening its commitment to supporting female decorators with incentives that promote the success and achievements of tradeswomen, while also highlighting the benefits of choosing painting & decorating as a profession. It will also continue to offer both online and face-to-face training courses that meet the needs of female decorators looking for more flexible work options to fit around their family and other commitments. Over 40% of trade professionals currently learning with Dulux Academy online are female, while women make up 20% of Academy attendees on face-to-face courses.

As part of this activity, Dulux Academy will develop in-depth case studies showcasing the fantastic work being carried out by female decorators across the UK. This includes Rachel Bates, a Dulux Select Decorator and owner of BATES&MiSONS in Chard, Somerset. After becoming a single mum in 2014, Rachel pursued a new career in painting & decorating to provide more flexibility to support her family. She now runs a highly successful business providing high quality services, specialising in areas such as wallpapering and airless and HVLP spraying. Rachel was also the recipient of two awards at the Dulux Select Decorators Awards 2020, winning in the Adding Colour to People’s Lives and Wallpaper Project under £1,500 categories.

Rachel said: “As a single mum with three kids, it was hard finding a job that I could plan around the school hours of my children. When I spoke to friends who worked in decorating, I liked the idea of being able to earn while choosing your own work hours.

“I think it’s great that more women are choosing to come into the trade. It’s the kind of profession that can offer more flexibility if you have a family but you still need to put the work in – you can’t expect to just work three days a week if a job isn’t done.

“As a woman, I’ve experienced some challenges along the way. But at the same time, it’s a brilliant job to be in and you’re able to turn out beautiful work that you can take real pride in. I’ve also had lots of praise from people when they see me in town with my decorating whites on.”

Dulux Academy is providing further support to tradeswomen through its Dulux Academy – Women in Decorating Facebook group, a forum where female decorators can meet, discuss and share expertise in a private, safe and friendly environment. Launched in January, the Dulux Academy – Women in Decorating group aims to support and celebrate women in painting & decorating roles, exploring relevant topics and working together to make the trade more appealing for women. Tradeswomen can join the group by following the link here.

In addition, Dulux Academy’s Vickie Mather joined a panel of leading industry experts at a virtual decorating festival this month to raise further awareness of the issues currently facing women in painting & decorating. In her talk, Vickie discussed topics ranging from the industry skills gap and gender imbalance, as well as how the industry can make improvements to encourage younger females to join the trade.

Dulux Academy has helped develop the skills and knowledge of more than 10,000 trade professionals since its launch in 2016. In January, Dulux Academy launched its Apprentice Season Ticket, an initiative offering extra incentives and new learning solutions for apprentices. The launch of the Apprentice Season Ticket forms part of a wider pledge by Dulux Academy to train a further 10,000 trade professionals over the next five years to address the labour skills gap and support the workforce of the future.

For more information, visit: www.duluxacademy.co.uk

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