Exclusive: London 2012 undershoots Olympic building site gender equality targets
Saturday, 14 July 2012
July 14 - From boxing to Saudi Arabia, London 2012 is doing its bit for gender equality in sport; the fight for gender equality on Olympic building sites, however, is not going as well.
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has revealed that fewer than one in 20 workers employed by Olympic Park contractors were women.
The four per cent figure disclosed in the body's latest annual report considerably undershoots the 11 per cent target – still just over one woman per 10 workers employed – that it set.
What is more, in manual trades, the figure falls to just three per cent, and to 1.3 per cent among manual workers employed by contractors at the Olympic and Paralympic Village.
Approached by insidethegames, the ODA said it had set "what we understood to be an ambitious and demanding target, challenging our contractors to employ more women on the construction of the Olympic Park and Olympic Village.
"Our award-winning Women into Construction project saw hundreds of women recruited into jobs working as engineers, carpenters and dumper truck drivers, among other occupations.
"The goal of 11 per cent was set against a backdrop of a sector average of less than two percent of women in manual construction roles.
"However, the economic downturn in 2008 inevitably meant that contractors were more likely to use their existing, overwhelmingly male, workforce on contracts rather than hire new and more inexperienced staff."
The ODA beat its targets on the employment of previously unemployed people and residents of the five Host Olympic Boroughs.
However, it also undershot its goal for people with disabilities to make up three per cent of contractor workforces.
Figures in the report, which are as of 30 June 2011, show actual levels of 1.2 per cent among Olympic Park contractors and just 0.5 per cent among those working on the Olympic and Paralympic Village.
An explanatory note states that "ethnicity and disability data is provided voluntarily by the workforce; the percentage of respondents disclosing disability may suggest underreporting".
It emerged this week that London 2012 would see Saudi Arabia send its first ever female athletes – a judoka and an 800 metres runner – to a major competition.
In another milestone, women's boxing is on the programme at London 2012, meaning that women will compete in every sport for the first time in the 116 year history of the modern Olympic Games.
Over the past five years, the London 2012 construction project has provided more than 46,000 people with jobs and training all told, during a difficult time for the UK economy.