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“Construction has been built into my DNA” - Lauren Banner, Social Value Coordinator at Fusion21, shares her journey

As Women in Construction Week approaches (March 3 to 9),  we're, shining a spotlight on the impactful work of our Social Value Coordinator Lauren Banner.

“Pushing big contractors and developers to deliver social value gives me real satisfaction. Seeing the difference that we make in communities is why I love my job," says Lauren.

Based in Warrington, 29-year-old Lauren joined Fusion21 last April. In her role, she works with public sector organisations, contractors and developers to run successful, target-hitting projects that have a long-term social impact.

Her work includes ensuring social value is incorporated into planning applications and new developments, more recently in Knowsley and Northampton, working with the likes of housebuilders such as Vistry Group; Bellway, and Miller Homes, and regeneration specialists Equans.

Lauren is also working on a new nationwide social value partnership with Rugby based developer Newlands Developments.

Through her work, Lauren ensures local employment is delivered through job targets and apprenticeships, offering work experience opportunities for young people, or reinvestment within the local borough through using local supply chains.

According to the Office for National Statistics, only around 15 per cent of the construction workforce is female—a statistic Lauren would like to see changed.

"I want girls and women to know there's no trade or role off-limits to us. The stigma persists, but we need to start early, encouraging interest and confidence from primary school age upwards," emphasises Lauren.

Lauren's own journey into construction was inspired by her father Chris, a joiner of 30 years. Fond childhood memories include helping him on construction sites and home projects.

“He's my biggest inspiration. With my dad there was never a gender bias around careers. But not everyone has that support, which is why I feel it's so important for me to be an advocate," shares Lauren.

Starting her career as an apprentice in business administration, Lauren initially resisted working in the sector. However, she says “construction has been built into my DNA” and Lauren eventually transitioned into marketing and social value roles in the industry before finding her true purpose in driving social value outcomes at Fusion21.

In her role, Lauren works closely with Knowsley Council who appointed Fusion21 to support social value through their planning obligations. She ensures social value is embedded into section 106 agreements for developments of a certain size and will go out to visit sites ensuring that the local community are benefitting from opportunities.

She highlights developers like Vistry Group who advocate for women in construction in Knowsley.

Lauren said: “I’ve been working with Vistry Group at the Watchfactory site in Knowsley, and they have a dedicated Social Value manager. The site managers are huge advocates for women and there are a number of women on site working in trades. It’s a really inclusive site. They even have female care packages in the toilets.”

Reflecting on her journey, Lauren emphasises how social value can empower women in the sector.

"Social value brings communities together and embedding social value into contracts with developers can really support women and make a difference. It particularly supports women who may be off the radar, such as veterans or those returning to work from maternity," says Lauren.

Sarah Maguire, Head of Social Value, at Fusion21, added: "Lauren exemplifies Fusion21's commitment to diversity and positive social impact in the construction industry. Her passion inspires us to champion women in construction."

Ready to procure with purpose?

We work with like-minded public sector organisations, partners, and suppliers to build up communities and motivate sustainable change where it’s needed most. Our team of procurement and social value specialists is driven by a passion to make a difference. Consequently, our members benefit from our specialist knowledge and determination to help you procure more efficiently and meaningfully.

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