Construction Helpline talks about how businesses and organisations across the UK must come together to raise awareness about inclusion, diversity, and mental health in construction
The topic of diversity and inclusion has been gaining a lot of momentum in recent months partly due to the Black Lives Matter and Me-Too movement, however, this is an issue that has been brewing for years and has now finally been brought to the spotlight.
A 2018 study conducted by UK recruitment analytics company Hays revealed that BAME people who managed to break into the construction sector, an astonishing 78% claimed they had experienced career restrictions due to their race or other demographic factors such as sexuality and age. This is a staggering statistic and is deeply upsetting that only now organisations are considering it.
What is diversity and inclusion?
Diversity and inclusion is a movement that empowers people from a wide variety of people into business processes, it is a trend that has existed in the world for over 10 years, but in the world of construction, it is a new phenomenon.
Every company must strive to create a culture in which every employee can be themselves and maximise their abilities. In an inclusive environment, employees are open-minded, free from prejudice, flexible and adaptive. What do Google, Facebook, Pinterest, and, for example, IKEA have in common? All these companies are considered the most progressive and successful because employees are supported and are guided by the principles of diversity and inclusion.
What are the statistics telling us about diversity and inclusion
D&I culture is growing exponentially in almost all commercial sectors except construction, which is a big issue. Over the last few years research has been conducted into this issue, according to the ONS (Office of National Statistics), only 7.4% of BAME people in the UK account for the total workforce in construction, while women only make up 12.5%. These figures highlight the fact there is a significant inequality occurring within the construction sector and change needs to happen now.
According to a 2017 Deloitte study, companies that embrace diversity are:
- 6 times more adaptable to a changing environment
- 2 times more likely to achieve their financial goals
- 8 times more likely to show good business results.
Deloitte research shows that generations perceive diversity differently. Millennials view diversity in the workplace as a combination of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, and they believe that exploiting these differences is what drives innovation.
It is important to understand that any strategy or policy is just a document that will not work on its own unless enforced by the wider team. This means that it is enough for companies to speak out about issues of inclusion and diversity, they need to implement concrete regulations into day-to-day practice.
Harmony is in diversity. The concept of diversity includes not only the usual criteria, such as ethnicity or gender but also the unique skills of each person and understanding of the culture in which they grew up. The individuality of each team member can be used for good, especially when it comes to working in international companies. Eli Yoffe, Amazon Senior Manager, in the company’s official statement, cites diversity as the main driving force behind the company and society: “Diversity in the team helps us think bigger and innovate faster.”
What role does it play in construction?
In construction, speed is one of the main indicators of efficiency. Today, companies achieve success who act quickly, but think “slowly”: weigh all possible risks and circumstances. The more diverse the knowledge, life experience and abilities of the team members, the higher the chances for success and a solution that considers the interests of everyone in the company.
We understand that this industry has a long way to go in achieving a truly inclusive and diverse environment. However, there are now many positive steps being implemented and an abundance of leaders embracing diversity and inclusion programmes, and we are adamant that this is a recipe for success.
As we continue to push forward into the new decade, more businesses across construction must continue to implement initiatives such as focus groups, diversity training and mentoring to ensure increased awareness and the promotion of role models. Only by doing this, will we be able to create an environment in which ethnic barriers are brought down and people of all races, sexes and cultural backgrounds are understood and encouraged to prosper within construction.
Hear more from Amos and Umer at Digital Construction Week 2021
Don’t miss Amos and Umer talk about the ‘Impact of technology on diversity and inclusion within construction’ at the People & Change Theatre at 2pm on Thursday 25 November.