Inclusivity in the Construction Industry

Inclusivity in the Construction Industry

25th November 2015

Back in September of this year we reported on a survey that was undertaken in order to discover the attitudes within the construction sector towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. The survey was initiated following reports that sexist and homophobic language is fairly commonplace on building sites in the UK. On 30th November, senior figures within the industry will join forces to raise awareness of homophobia and transphobia with a conference organised by Stonewall. The conference aims to discuss the problems being faced by lesbian, gay and transgender employees within the construction and property sector. The conference is titled Building an Inclusive Environment and will be held at the headquarters of Lend Lease in London.

Apparently more than 80% of gay men and women in some parts of the industry have encountered homophobic comments in the workplace and this is an issue that must be addressed if the construction industry is to become an inclusive industry fit for the 21st Century. Construction is lagging behind many other industries here in the UK when it comes to the issue of LGBT rights and this problem needs to be brought into the open. While many organisations within the industry strive to increase LGBT equality, homophobia is still a big problem in the industry, especially on construction sites. This has resulted in a lack of trust and openness in some workplaces which will have an effect not only on job satisfaction levels but on productivity levels too.

In a separate initiative thats being funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), there's a free online toolkit that construction industry employers can use to promote inclusivity in the workplace. The Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Toolkit was developed by the Supply Chain School and contains e-modules that can be used by team managers and employers.

Fairness, Inclusion and Respect Manager at CITB, Kate Lloyd states that "Everyone has a responsibility in promoting fairness, inclusion and respect in the construction workplace" and urges employers and managers to adopt the free toolkit in a bid to encourage their workforce to collaborate in striving for a fairer, more inclusive and more respectful workplace.

The Toolkit details the three core pillars of work environment best practice via Toolkit Talks which accompanying videos and an online resource library. The Toolkit will be introduced in a nationwide series of events that will run into next year. The overall goal of the initiative is to transform the construction industry into a sector that is a comfortable on to work within for all employees. Enhancing inclusivity will also benefit the sector by helping to fill the skills gap with wider reaching recruitment drives. At present women account for only 14% of construction jobs (compared with 46% of the overall workforce in the UK) while Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers are also under-represented compared with other industries.

This has led to the construction industry suffering with an image problem - it's not considered an attractive sector to join. Conferences and initiatives like these should help the industry to attract the diverse workforce that would take it into the future with confidence and equality.