Building Diversity and Inclusion in Construction

Blog

Building Diversity and Inclusion in Construction

Legislation & Regulation

A recent article from pbctoday talks about the current state of diversity in construction shows how much work there is to do. It created quite a few discussions in our teams and we thought you’d find it interesting as well. Let us know…

​In its recent Diversity and Inclusion in Construction report, the CIOB showed that women only made up 12.3% of the UK’s construction workforce in 2019. With BAME representation as low as 5-7%, dropping to 1% within more senior industry roles.

Whilst in 2018, the OutNext / PwC Out to Succeed survey found the construction industry had the third worst image out of all industries as an LGBTQ+ employer.

Diversity is a solution for the construction industry, not a problem

The article gives three ideas where the hard work can start in 2022. If you'd like to read the full article (and we think you should) you can do that right here.

1. Begin the perception shift

It is one thing to encourage diverse groups to enter construction, but this will only do a fraction of the job. What is far more motivating is seeing diversity flourish.

Kate Waters, President of WACL (Women in Advertising and Communications Leadership) recently said that “if we want to develop diverse leadership teams made up of the people most capable of leading for change, we need to start by de-gendering the traits that define what “great” looks like.”

What does ‘great’ look like in construction? For many, it will be based on the evidence of the statistics they are seeing, which as we can see from the CIOB report is predominantly white and male, and it is ageing. Not a good look, when for millennials and Gen Z, diversity remains a considerable personal concern.

Without doing much to address these shortfalls, an industry such as construction will only become increasingly unpalatable for early to mid-career professionals and trainees deciding on their career.

A catalyst for this perception change is for construction to modernise its ways of working, and as a result, the roles available. One way of doing this is to continue to embrace technology; by shedding old-fashioned processes and bringing in digitalization.

This way, those with skills, appetites and ambitions in digital, or simply beyond the construction site, no longer perceive construction as limiting, and the net is cast wider than ever before.

2. Stay flexible

Covid hasn’t brought much in the way of positives, but one area it’s undoubtedly improved is the prospect of flexible and hybrid working. Despite its reliance on on-site presence, construction shouldn’t be excluded from this.

Last year’s World Economic Forum survey showed that two-thirds of people want to continue to work flexibly when the COVID-19 pandemic is finally over. Whilst almost a third said they would consider looking for another job to their current one to meet this wish.

Companies like Spotify took an early lead on changing how they would work post-Covid, with incentives such as Work from Anywhere, meaning an employee can choose the city or country they work from.

There’s nothing to say that construction can’t follow suit and lean into the employer-employee equilibrium the pandemic has brought about.

A workplace that is not determined by how, where or when a person works means those with considerations such as childcare, accessibility or healthcare will view your business and the industry as a viable option.

Construction is still seen as an on-site job by many, so people don’t give it a second thought if they feel it is incompatible with their circumstances. But by being flexible, and wanting to continue to evolve, construction can be somewhere people feel confident in bringing their whole selves to work.

3. Measure what you treasure

If the construction industry is going to keep this fight for greater diversity going, it needs to go one step further than the McKinsey report and start making its own business case.

It can do this by producing focussed statistics that show the positive impact a more diverse, inclusive workforce can have on construction and set a template for others to follow.

Our industry has always suffered from an outdated relationship with data, but diversity can be the catalyst for this to change.

By bringing projects online, and having one single, accessible source of truth, we can begin to take a more accurate temperature check on how diversity is changing our industry for the better. It can help us monitor all wins, big and small, in the construction business case for diversity and build a roadmap for continued progress.

Setting quotas is a sure-fire way to turn the dial on poor diversity statistics too. Take global construction company Multiplex who are aiming for woman-led teams for 10% of their projects and 50% of all graduate intakes to be female this year. Whilst in Australia, the state of Victoria is now aiming for women to make up 35% of management, supervisor and specialist labour positions.

Accurate data can show teams and stakeholders how these quotas are progressing, and whether they’re even ambitious enough. It gives us the autonomy to remain truly progressive.