International Women’s Day 2024 – Celebrating Southern Vale Homes’ Blaise Fisher and team

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This International Women’s Day, we spoke with Blaise Fisher, Co-Owner/Product Manager and Special Projects of Southern Vale Homes about how she and the team #InspireInclusion

Blaise Fisher

What inspired you to enter the building industry – and keep you going through its ups and downs?

As a child, my siblings and I spent many weekends with our parents looking through display homes to get ideas for our own new home. This is where I fell in love with design, materials and all the amazing marketing that formed part of the excitement of building homes.

When I first met my husband John, we soon realised that we both had a passion for building. John had just completed his first build at the age of 21 and I had a personal life goal to build property in the future.

When we were in the position to build our first home together, we built with Southern Vale Homes and loved the experience so much that we both wanted to work for the company, to give to others the same experience we had.

John began as Construction Manager and was promoted to the General Manager role. I joined as Head of Marketing and Communications. Since then, I have worked across multiple areas of the company and now look after product and special projects and oversee marketing, recruitment and client selections. A busy job but I love it!

When the opportunity came up for John and I to step into the ownership of Southern Vale Homes, the timing was perfect for us. It was a smooth transition and, something that I am very proud that we have been able to achieve together.

The thing that gets us through the ups and downs of our industry lies 100% with the team that we have. I feel so blessed to be able to work with each person within our team. We are a tight knit crew and everyone genuinely cares for each other.

We do not claim to always get it right, but each person that forms Southern Vale Homes are always making the decisions each day that they believe are the right ones.

Without the positivity and support that we provide each other through stressful times, it would be quite difficult to manage the down times. As everyone knows, there have been lots of challenges within the building and construction industry over the last 5 years.

Can you share a pivotal moment in your career where you overcame gender-related challenges or biases, and how did it shape your approach to fostering inclusion within your business?

On many occasions when I have said to someone that I work in building new homes, I have had many comments such as – “so, what do you do – do you work in reception?”. Whilst reception is a fantastic, challenging and rewarding role, I feel there is gender bias and perceptions of the job roles a woman might be expected to do within the industry I work in. Also, because I work with my husband, I have had many assume that I am his Personal Assistant.

I feel that being a woman in construction, I sometimes have to explain or justify what I do and often have people underestimate my ability. I definitely don’t take gender bias to heart, but I do believe that it should not exist. When it does, I like to flip the conversation quickly and impart knowledge onto others. It can be quite satisfying when I hold conversations with clients who  may not expect me to have this knowledge. 

We as a company are aware that there is bias in industry, however 50 per cent of our employees are women. In our workplace we foster inclusion by providing equal opportunities for training and career advancement regardless of gender and have implemented policies to prevent discrimination in the workplace. Regarding recruitment, we don’t see a job role as being a male or female role, we actively seek out and attract diverse candidates selecting the right person for the role… always.

As a successful woman in the building industry, how do you inspire and empower other women to pursue careers in construction and related fields?

I truly hope that I empower the women within our business to pursue and further advance their careers, not only for Southern Vale but more broadly in our industry. I do look for opportunities to grow the talent that we have within our walls.

I have a community focus and with Southern Vale as a platform I am involved with media, sponsorships and building award ceremonies – sharing the success of what we do and how proud I am to be working within the building and construction industry.

What strategies have you implemented in your business to promote diversity and inclusion, particularly for women, within the traditionally male-dominated building industry?

We have diverse hiring practices to reach female candidates for all levels of employment and partner with HR companies that support inclusion.

Our job roles have gender neutral job descriptions and titles, focusing on skill and qualifications rather than gender specific language and pay grades to be based on qualifications and experience not gender.

In what ways do you collaborate with others in the industry to advocate for greater gender diversity and inclusion, both within your own company and across the broader construction sector?

I am currently enrolled to attend the Women in Construction Summit in March and cannot wait to network with so many strong female leaders within the industry.

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the building industry, especially those who may face barriers due to gender stereotypes or cultural norms?

There are so many diverse and rewarding roles that form part of the building and construction industry. Take the time to pursue education and training to build a strong foundation of knowledge, get out and connect – expand your networks and embrace opportunities.

Thanks for chatting with us Blaise. We wish you and the team continued success.