Coming from a family of bricklayers, David has always had a strong connection to the construction industry. In fact, with a memorable surname like Twizell, he often finds himself encountering colleagues who remember his uncles from years before. Today, the construction industry is not the one his uncles would remember.
“I’ve seen a positive transition even since I’ve joined, particularly with gender perceptions,” David says, adding, “from an HR perspective, the opportunities are much more evenly spread, with operatives now having the ability to take enhanced parental leave.”
Sir Robert McAlpine’s gender neutral parental leave policy is something David made the most of for the arrival of his third child last year, a son. As a result, he was able to take six months of paid leave to spend with his family, a far cry from the industry standard two weeks he had after the births of his first two children.
Whilst a fantastic experience, David caveats: “He was up from two o’clock to more than half four last night, so he’s on thin ice at the moment!”
David is happy see the benefits of gender-neutral parental leave amongst his colleagues who are also embracing the policy.
“We’ve got a guy whose partner is about to give birth any day now so he’s about to take his six months leave, and I have quite a close friend who took the parental leave as well. He really noticed the difference between his first child and his second child, and the bond between the two of them. He sees his daughter gravitate towards him when he comes home.”
As a Works Supervisor, David is working directly with site teams amongst his day-to-day responsibilities. Reflecting on this year’s National Inclusion Week theme of ‘Take Action, Make Impact’ he is enthusiastic about the experience of bringing inclusion initiatives like gender neutral parental leave to site: “It’s been massively embraced across Sir Robert McAlpine. There are definitely positive attitudes around.”
“It is still a heavily masculine industry, so it can be hard to deploy changes but in ten to fifteen years, the world will have changed again and we’ll see another different side to that.”
David first joined Sir Robert McAlpine as a groundworks apprentice: “I took any opportunity and rose with the company. I was quite young doing site management training, and from then on management roles materialised.”
“It’s a strange transition when you leave on a Friday working alongside the team and then come Monday you’ve got a shirt and tie on,” he continues.
What would David say to anyone considering a construction career today?
When I was younger there were a lot of preconceptions about this career, but now there is a massive drive out there for engaging people in construction and there are people who progress really quickly.
It’s certainly an optimistic career choice. There is a lot of uncertainty in other sectors, but construction has opportunities a lot of people aren’t aware of.