One of the UK’s largest homebuilders has spoken out about the lack of diversity in construction, and has called for a more inclusive industry.
Taylor Wimpey, which provides work for more than 15,000 staff and subcontractors, will be working with the CITB – the Industrial Training Board (ITB) for the construction industry in Great Britain – to address the diversity challenges facing the industry, and is supporting CITB’s Be Fair framework accreditation, to be launched in June 2014.
The Be Fair Framework is being developed by the industry, for the industry, to create inclusive working environments which support not only individuals but also other companies across construction and the built environment sector.
The Framework aims to address negative cultures and practices to create a fair, inclusive and respectful industry for everyone.
Taylor Wimpey Chief Executive Pete Redfern said: “We strongly believe that having a diverse workforce is not just the right thing to do but offers clear business benefits.
“It helps us to attract and retain the best people with the broadest range of talent and makes sure that our staff, who come from a variety of backgrounds, age groups and career paths, can relate to the communities that we work with and offer the best service.
“With 19% of construction workers reaching retirement age within the next decade, we will have a huge gap to fill. We need to invest today to ensure that we have the right skills, expertise and drive to meet the ever growing demand for new homes in the future, and this can only be achieved by attracting a much wider range of candidates than has been done in the industry before.”
Traditionally, construction is seen as a ‘job for the boys’, with Taylor Wimpey taking the lead in challenging this perception through a variety of tailor-made initiatives – targeted recruitment campaigns to attract candidates, from a variety of ethnic and professional backgrounds and across different age groups is one example.
Also in addition to continuing their trade apprenticeship schemes, Taylor Wimpey has recently launched a new site management specific apprenticeship scheme to tackle skills shortage in the industry, aiming to attract around 100 new site management apprentices by the end of 2015 through the scheme.
Judy Lowe, Deputy Chairman at CITB “Support from industry leaders like Taylor Wimpey is what we need to address the issue of diversity within construction.
“For example, women have made up only 12% of the industry for the last decade and with confidence in construction growing, we need 182,000 qualified construction workers in the next five years to meet the skills demand.
“That’s why we need to attract the best and brightest talent to our industry regardless of gender and background.
“Like Taylor Wimpey, CITB is taking action by introducing the BeFair framework to help create more inclusive working environments, both in office and on sites, to ensure that all workers are treated fairly and with respect.”
Nick Boles, the Minister of State for Skills and Equalities, today announced CITB’s new Board which will revolutionise how the Industry Training Board operates, increase diversity and put industry at the heart of decision-making.
The streamlined eight-member Board includes five women from across the industry and brings together levy payers and independent members from England, Wales and Scotland, who will be able to make swift decisions based on the industry’s needs. They will be supported by a CITB Council with members drawn from across the built environment sector.
Skills and Equalities Minister Nick Boles said, “The new Board will have a major role in helping this dynamic industry develop the skills it needs to grow. “I congratulate all the new Trustees on their appointment and look forward to seeing them working with business and employers to address the skills challenges faced by the construction sector.
“I am particularly pleased to see greater diversity on the Board and hope that it encourages more women to consider a career in construction.”
James Wates CBE, who will Chair the new Board said, “The appointment of a diverse, smaller, industry-led Board marks the next stage of a reform programme that will make us even more relevant and responsive to the needs and ambitions of the industry we serve.
“Our industry is facing challenging times and I am delighted that the Secretary of State has appointed a Board which fairly reflects our industry – both in terms of diversity and representation from all three UK nations.
“As an organisation we have made increasing the number of women in the industry a priority and I am proud that CITB is the first Non-Departmental Public Body to have a Board made up of over 50% women.
“I look forward to working with our new colleagues to drive change and make a lasting contribution to our industry in the year ahead.”
The membership of the new CITB Board is:
James Wates CBE, Chairman Wates Group
Maureen Douglas, Group HR Director, Forster Group Ltd. (Scotland)
David Harris MBE, Managing Director, WRW Construction Ltd. (Wales)
Karen Jones, Group HR Director, Redrow plc.
Maria Pilfold, HR Consultant and former Director of the Taylor Wimpey Group
Ray Wilson, Director and General Manager, Carillion Training Services
Dr. Diana Garnham, CEO, Science Council
Frances Wadsworth, Principal and CEO, Croydon College
The CITB’s Be Fair framework is designed to help construction employers to embed fairness, inclusion and respect in their day-to-day activities. Michael Smyth, the head of human resources at £420m-turnover contractor Graham Construction, and Jean Duprez, manager at London-based decorating subcontractor K&M McLoughlin, explain what their companies have gained from Be Fair accreditation.
Why did you decide to go for Be Fair accreditation?
Michael Smyth We were looking to get diversity training for managers; it’s a key issue for the industry and for our business. So that’s how we heard about the framework. We did a pilot of some of the modules, then our Scottish division did a full pilot assessment. We’re now doing it across the UK for the whole business.
We wanted to know where we were compared with other organisations, and then to stretch ourselves. We got Bronze accreditation, but quite a number of our practices were Silver. To achieve that every site manager and operative has to be at that level so we aim to be at Silver in early to mid-2015.
Jean Duprez I am always looking at whatever we can do as a company to improve and give us an edge. I thought we did fairly well: we have this policy and that policy and I thought accreditation would be a breeze. Then I realised that although we had lots of policies, they weren’t used throughout the company.
For example, to work on the Olympics, we needed an equality and diversity policy, so we ticked that box. But when it came to how we advertised for staff, there were things in the policy that weren’t embedded in how we did things. Plus, although we don’t have a huge supply chain, we didn’t know how to pass those ideas on to them.
What exactly does achieving the accreditation involve?
MS It covers a wide range of things (see box). Part one is to do with recruitment and getting a diverse workforce. It’s about getting a variety of skills in our organisation – if you have the same thinking from the same people, you will end up with the same results. A big part is working with subcontractors and the supply chain to help them meet the standard. There is one module on how we work with the supply chain, and there are different modules for main contractors, smaller contractors and subcontractors. Going through the process with them makes it easier for them to get their own accreditation.
JD We had no policies on supply chain management, so I used the templates provided by Be Fair. Companies are signed up to a three-strikes policy, and they have to adhere to all the policies and practices of the Be Fair framework so we can keep an eye on what’s going right and wrong, for example with recruitment adverts.
We also used the templates ourselves. For example, when someone was leaving we had never before given them an exit interview. We had three staff leave in a year, and found out exactly why and if there was any way we could retain them.
How did you implement the changes?
MS Every site has a Be Fair champion, it could be a QS, a site manager or an operative, someone everyone feels they can talk to and who is a link between the site and the management team. They get training that we run, and all site operatives get an equality and diversity presentation. It’s also part of the staff induction process.
JD If you’re working in an office environment, you can call a meeting about equality and diversity policies. But conveying your message to operatives, foremen and supervisors across 25 sites is a huge challenge. We were sending them emails, but they weren’t opening them and not prioritising them. So we now print a newsletter, even though it costs money and uses paper.
What was the impact on your business?
MS In our employees’ engagement survey, the number saying that they believed the company was committed to equality and diversity rose by 5%. We also saw an increase in the number of job applicants, so people were thinking: if I go to that company, I’ll be treated well and I’ll be able to build a career. Our staff absence rate has decreased too. It was embraced enthusiastically by everyone, with very little resistance.
JD We changed the way our policies were operated and related. It made us a more open and transparent company. We now have a company that, from top to bottom, knows what it’s striving for. Our policies used to be five pages long, now they’re one page, but everyone knows what they are.
What will be the future for Be Fair?
MS There are lots of frameworks, but this one is run by the CITB and they understand what it’s like to work in construction and where we are on the journey. We’ve already got Investors in People, but in terms of diversity, to us this is the standard for the industry. If it becomes the standard everyone understands, then instead of us filling in a 30-page document for a tender, then we could simply say that we’ve got a Bronze or Silver.
JD As a company we have to do a lot of accreditations to work, such as CHAS, Achilles, Constructionline, and each costs a lot of money. But I would willingly pay my money to be part of Be Fair. To learn more, go to www.citb.co.uk
What is the Be Fair framework?
The Be Fair framework is the CITB’s badge for fair working practices. Tailored versions are available for micro, small and medium-sized subcontractors, and small, medium and large main contractors. Other versions for clients, housing associations and house builders are coming.
The framework includes a full action plan for companies, along with all the supporting documents that they might need. Accreditation requires companies to pass five modules. These are: working with the supply chain; site environment; employment and recruitment; policies and procedures; leadership and strategy.
The CITB has two authorised providers. Constructing Equality offers Be Fair accreditation at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels, whereas SEE Training offers Bronze accreditation only.
A CITB incentive of £1,000 to the first 100 companies to gain accreditation – a sum likely to cover the assessment costs for any firm with fewer than 100 staff – is available via Constructing Equality.
The assessment process is run by two companies at the present: Liverpool-based Constructing Equality offers accreditation at Gold, Silver and Bronze levels, and SEE Things offers Bronze level accreditation.
Many people now have jobs that offer little or no security.
This may because you rely on an agency to provide you with work – and there’s no guarantee that they can find you work. You may have a job where you have no guarantee of how many hours work you will have from one week to the next. Or you may simply be on a short-term contract that may or may not be renewed.
The TUC wants to hear from people who have jobs with these kinds of problems, to help them campaign for a better deal for people at work. So, if you have such a job please fill in this survey.
If you know someone else who has, please also tell them about this survey.
Thequestionnaire will take people about 15 minutes. If you are unable to answer any of the questions, just move on to the next question or section. All the answers you provide will remain completely confidential and anonymous.
The survey is being run in association with the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC).
Since it was across the way, and since ISG kindly offered, we popped over to the Liverpool Exhibition Centre to see how they were addressing fairness, inclusion and respect at site level.
“Scrap ‘near miss’; it’s ‘hazard recognition’” – ‘Near miss’ holds connotations of blame. ‘Hazard recognition’ takes on an entirely different tone; it suggests the person recognising the hazard possessed enough skill to recognise the problem and had been positive in their action. We would say that the behavioural implication of the words has a vast impact on individuals feeling ‘ok’ to report challenges in their environment in a way that makes them feel respected.
Green, Amber and Red – The use of yellow and red cards is not new in the sector; we also advise them for use when challenging negative behaviour. Where ISG have taken this a step forward is the introduction of a green card to reward positive actions from site staff. If you get a green card, your name goes into a hat and every month the winner gets £50. We feel that the approach to fairness, inclusion and respect should start here – learning the valuable lessons from past work in the sector.
NI Numbers to check ‘right to work’ – Gang–mastering is a problem across the sector, and knowing who has a right to work can be problematic. In order to ensure people are not taken advantage of we need to address this as a matter of urgency. ISG have started down this path by collecting the NI numbers of people working on site, this allows them to match up to their CSCS cards and ensure they are registered to work.
Mohamed Aggwani (23) had recently achieved a Masters of Engineering (MEng) Degree in Civil Engineering, but had been finding it difficult to secure a job in Oxford where he lived with his family.
Morgan Sindall was offering an administrative work experience opportunity on a project based in Oxford. Mohamed saw this as a good opportunity to get some experience with a recognised leading engineering contractor.
Mohamed says, “During my work experience placement, I got involved in a variety of interesting tasks and was given plenty of opportunities to gain skills and aid my professional development as a civil engineer. The tasks I was involved in gave me an all-round experience of what contractors do on site and increased my knowledge and confidence.”
At the end of the eight-week placement, Mohamed made it clear that he would like to pursue his career with Morgan Sindall.
Andrew Beadle, Project Manager, spoke with his colleagues to recommend Mohamed, and learned that there was an engineering opportunity at a project in Leeds.
Mohamed jumped at the chance to apply, despite the change of location. His application was successful.
He started employment, and is enrolled on Morgan Sindall’s graduate development programme. Mohamed will also shortly start work on his Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) professional registration.
Stef Wilson, Project Manager on the M1 project, said, “We are always keen to foster and retain talent, and Mohamed had already demonstrated his enthusiasm and commitment. Through good communication, collaboration across our business and timing, the circumstances were favourable for Mohamed and for Morgan Sindall.”
Back in 2010, Cruden made a commitment to become a leading edge in ethical employment, quality and diversity within the construction industry. They took great strides towards achieving this aim when they were accredited as an Investor in Diversity early in 2013.
It took 18 months to complete the application process. During this time, every member of staff – from Apprentice to Chairman – undertook equality and diversity training and engaged in discussion, debate, self-assessment and self-analysis.
They were assessed across five key areas – committing, learning, developing, improving and communicating – and emerged as more enlightened and aware individuals.
Cruden have set their sights on a new goal – Leaders in Diversity, which is stage 3 in the Investors in Diversity process.
A Steering Group has been established to help guide the journey to Leader status. The Group has been tasked with developing new initiatives that will enable Cruden to actively embrace equality, diversity and inclusion.
The first of these new initiatives is Escalate Diversity.
An extension to Cruden’s core training and development programme, Escalate Diversity will focus on the understanding and management of the impact we have, as both individuals and a business, within the many different and diverse communities in which we operate.
As part of the Leaders in Diversity assessment process, staff will be asked to complete a survey regarding their commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within the workplace.
UK construction, infrastructure and design business Morgan Sindall was looking for external approval for the work it was doing around Fairness, Inclusion and Respect [FIR] when CITB introduced its Be Fair accreditation pilot.
“The timely opportunity to be involved in something industrywide was compelling”, said Samantha French, Strategic Inclusion and Community Manager.
“Taking the Fairness, Inclusion and Respect Be Fair accreditation will help make Morgan Sindall an employer of choice”.
“Morgan Sindall had had an ‘Inclusion Plan’ in place since 2011 and had been investigating the various equality frameworks on the market in order to achieve external approval for the work we do around equality, diversity and inclusion,” Samantha said.
Taking part in the pilot was time-consuming but ultimately rewarding, she said. Among other benefits she felt the accreditation would also support business development and tendering activities and the experience itself was gratifying.
Without doubt, Samantha felt the accreditation had raised the profile of the company’s success in this area both internally and externally, and has helped to ensure that inclusive practice is at the heart of what it does.
Morgan Sindall’s top tips for Be Fair accreditation
Ensure buy-in from all levels of your organisation
Communicate what you are doing and why
Use the advice and support available
Make sure you have a good team leader who has a passion to see it through
Diane Dumashie, an independent corporate consultant, surveyor and land economist, told RICS Recruit about her career.
“Surveying was something that, quite honestly, I fell into. I knew that I didn’t want to have a ‘traditional’ office job; however, I was sure that I wanted a career which allowed me to work outdoors with land and natural resources, and which had good prospects for progression and job satisfaction. I’m pleased to say that that’s exactly what surveying has proved to be.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have a huge deal of variety in my working life. Specifically over the last decade or so, with a PhD specialism in coastal policy and business, I have provided consultancy to coastal business. I have also followed my passion by branching out into the African market to advise on protecting access rights for coastal communities.
“My advice to anyone looking to start out in the sector is to ensure you’ve got a good mix of ‘soft’ skills – such as report writing, decision making and leadership – to accompany the more traditional technical skills of collecting the right information and data to analyse. It is now more important to be able to make ‘sense of’ and apply that knowledge to problem solving. If you possess that combination of attributes, you’ll fit into the surveying sector extremely well. And, if you’re anything like me, it’ll be the best decision you’ll ever make.”