The new BeFair accreditation scheme, which involves going through a rigorous assessment akin to attaining Investors in People has been developed by the CITB in association with Liverpool-based consultancy Constructing Equality to support the industry in developing fair and inclusive employment practices.
The two organisations have recently conducted a pilot scheme during which 40 companies were assessed and 33 accredited, made up of both small and large firms. Another five received conditional passes, said a CITB spokesman. The CITB declined to name those firms who had passed, but Vinci and Morgan Sindallwere two of the big names that took part.
The CITB is hoping that its new framework will help stamp out outdated and unacceptable practices in the sector which it has been highlighting over the last few weeks. In a latest analysis of data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) it was found that, on average, women in construction are paid 12% less than their male counterparts in the same role. Among construction and building trades supervisors, the differential is as high as 33%.
Based on the hourly rates paid to men and women, the figures show pay discrepancies in construction and building trades supervisors of 33%; architects 25%; and electrical and electronic technicians 24%.
“The whole point of the new framework is that companies will need to demonstrate they are acting on these sorts of issues and make sure they are addressed,” added the CITB spokesman. Companies are under increasing pressure to demonstrate their inclusion and diversity credentials, particularly for clients in the public sector which is one reason the new scheme was oversubscribed when the pilots were announced last year with 148 firms initially registering interest.
Kate Lloyd, fairness, inclusion and respect manager for CITB said: “What possible justification can there be for paying men and women different rates for doing what, to all intents and purposes, is the same job? As an industry, we need to address this issue, and fast. If we fail to bridge these wage gaps, we won’t be able to attract women into this industry or keep them. It’s as simple as that. The BeFair Framework, which will launch in June, will help construction companies be more aware of fairness, inclusion and respect issues including equal pay. It will help us to challenge the outdated perceptions of the construction industry so that we can create the workforce of the future.”
It is understood that the CITB will tender for an operator to run the scheme and carry out the assessments.
Responding to the recent statistics on pay disparity, Roy Cavanagh MBE, training and education executive for Seddon, said: “As an industry, construction is crying out for talented women to get involved and take advantage of the career opportunities on offer.
“Currently women make up just 12% of the construction industry workforce, with a mere 1.2% working in the manual trades. To create a fairer and more inclusive workforce, we need to make sure that women get equal pay.”
The BeFair scheme offers a construction-specific alternative to the Investors in Diversity standard, and allows companies to gain accreditation at four different levels. It offers best practice guidance on recruitment, training, promotion, remuneration, work-life balance and subcontracting work.
Contractor Graham, one of the test companies, says it has already identified improvements across its business, especially among the workforce on site, in terms of morale, motivation and commitment to fairness, inclusion and respect for everyone.
The CITB framework enables companies to develop and progress as they move through accreditation levels. Level 1 involves simply complying with the Equality Act 2010 and other legislation, through to being a leading light for best practice in the sector at Level 4.
The framework is written in “strands” that segment the sector into its different types of organisations, such as clients, Tier 1 contractors and subcontractors.