On International Women’s Day we’ve spoken to our very own Director Beth who is flying the flag for women working in the industry.

The number of women working in the plumbing and heating industry is traditionally low. We’ve spoken to our very own Director Beth Colley who is flying the flag for women working in the plumbing and heating industry in Staffordshire. Here she tells us what it’s like to work in a traditionally male dominated industry, what she enjoys most about her role and what she thinks should be done to attract more women into the plumbing, heating and bathrooms sector.

In fact, according to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in 2022 there were 3500 (2.4%), compared to 2700 (1.9%) the year before.

Beth – why do you think the number of women working in your industry is so low?

In all honesty I think it’s down to stereotypes. The industry has been historically associated with masculinity, physical labour, and technical expertise, which could discourage women from pursuing careers in this field.

Tell us about your own journey? How did you break into the industry?

It started in 2015/16 where I worked as a property manager for a local estate agent called Butters John Bee. Part of my role was property maintenance and gas safe compliance which is where I met my now Fiancé and business partner (Andy). Back then Andy was a Gas engineer who worked on lot of the properties I managed and once we met, we instantly clicked. From that point I went to work with Andy at the plumbing and heating company where he worked, and that’s where our joint passion for the industry grew. We always knew back then that we wanted to have our own business doing something that we both enjoyed and were good at! One night at the dining table we talked about setting up our own company: ‘Action Heat,’ and from that point on it was all systems go. We took the risk, set up Action Heat and never looked back. After Action Heat went from strength to strength, and demand for our bathrooms grew, we felt the natural step for us was to form our new luxury bathroom brand ‘Action Bathrooms.’ Keeping the name ‘Action,’ to stay on brand was exceptionally important to us, as a friend of ours who has since sadly passed away now, helped us create the name and brand.

Have you come across many other women working in plumbing and heating?

Yes, more than you would think actually – but not enough to outweigh the heavy male dominated industry. There are more women in the bathroom design industry, than the plumbing and heating side but, it’s always refreshing when I meet other women whether it be at merchants or exhibitions … it puts a smile on my face, and I think good for you girl, women can do it too!

What do you think should be done to attract more women into the industry?

We need more of a presence of women and female associates at schools and colleges representing us, to show students that women can enter the industry too – we need to be flying the flag! We also need to attract women into the industry through apprenticeships as we need to do all we can to pave the way for the next generation of young women coming into our industry.

It would be fantastic to see a ‘Women’s’ Trade Network,’ set up in Staffordshire – full of likeminded women to offer advice, encouragement and support to one another and of course attract more women into the plumbing and heating sector.

What would you say to encourage more girls to consider a career in the plumbing and heating industry?

My words would be, DO IT! If you have an interest and passion for something then go for it, you’ll never know unless you try. This industry is so varied and can provide diverse career paths. Particularly the gas engineering side – it requires critical thinking, attention to detail, and the ability to troubleshoot complex systems and every day is different. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The variation, our amazing customer base and meeting new people! I have a passion for bathrooms and bringing my customers’ projects to life. The satisfaction of seeing the end result and the customers’ happy faces is really rewarding. Although I predominantly work on the bathrooms side of things, with the plumbing and heating side, when I do get calls for a plumbing emergency it’s nice to be the person at the end of the phone to reassure the customer and provide them with a remedy!

What words would you use to describe your career so far?

Enjoyable, varied, creative, dynamic and turbulent (at times!)

And finally – how do you see your career progressing?

I plan to continue with personal learning and professional development by keeping up to date with the ever-growing bathroom trends and changes within the plumbing and heating industry. Action Bathrooms is already going from strength to strength and it’s very exciting! I hope to continue seizing opportunities for organic growth and building our portfolio through recommendation.

From a plumbing and heating perspective, we have done a lot of background work and research in hydrogen as well as fitting hydrogen ready boilers, so we are prepared for the changes that will inevitably come.

I plan to keep doing what we do, and that is providing an outstanding service to all our customers as well as our beautiful bathroom installations.

Action Bathrooms design, supply and install luxury bathrooms – they are part of the Acton Heat Group, providing plumbing and heating solutions in Staffordshire and beyond.

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