Patrick Hughes - Business Admin Apprentice

Round-up of 2013/2014 (last 12 months) and how CEq is doing

Patrick Hughes - Business Admin ApprenticeMy name is Patrick Hughes and I am the Finance Trainee at Constructing Equality Ltd. Within the company we are all allowed a chance to write a blog on something that is relevant to our business. This gives Chrissi a break from writing the blog every week so I hope you find this interesting. As it was my turn to write the blog I thought I would give an insight on how I feel the company has been doing the last twelve months. It is now coming up to my second year anniversary at the business so I thought I would share my insight of how the business has impacted me.

It is has been a very successful year for Constructing Equality Ltd – we have finished delivering the pilot stage of CITB’s Be Fair Framework and we are now the first licensed provider for the launched Framework.

We have also had plenty of achievements within the business this year as both of the company’s trainees (Paul and I) have passed our first years at Higher education, myself for my HNC and Paul for his degree; these are achievements that both we and Constructing Equality Ltd are very proud of. Constructing Equality Ltd has always believed in developing our staff and offering them every chance they need to further their development as we grow our own talent for our future.

Constructing Equality Ltd are now looking forward to the growth and establishment of our new product line of Online Learning as it is picked up by the industry – we have been able to offer them another industry first as we specialise in Equality and Diversity as well as Construction so our Online Learning is specific, relevant and relatable. From my own personal experience of testing it throughout its development, I found it useful, informative and fun; something I thought equality and diversity could not be.

Our aim as a company is to make change within the industry and by having Online Learning products that will give employers and employees the knowledge that they need around Equality and Diversity, alongside CITB’s Be Fair Framework, in ways that understand their businesses and their industry, this aim seems more and more likely to be realised. 

Whilst developing the industry specific Online Learning we have also been busy delivering face to face learning to companies all over the country.  This has varied from ‘Women in Construction’ to ‘Professionalism in the Workplace’ for companies including ISG, Taylor Wimpey and Derbyshire County Council.  All had positive responses that the work we do is valuable, supports their development, is worthwhile and indicated that others should have the benefit too. One of my favourite feedback comments from employee delegate was: “This has been the most enjoyable, informative course I have ever experienced and it has opened my eyes regarding other people”

We have recently attended Liverpool Pride 2014; here we were able to represent the Construction Industry with such companies and organisations as ISG, Morgan Sindall, Aecom, Space Architects and CITB. It was a fantastic day where everyone was able to engage with people and demonstrate support for the LGBT community by the construction industry.

The year has been very eventful and fulfilling – we are excited for what comes next and all the new exciting challenges we face to make such a powerful industry into a fair and equal place of work; it is a challenge we are relishing and we are hoping for the perfect outcome.

It is nice to know that the work you do actually helps other people and could potentially make them enjoy their work more.

Experts in Equality, specialists in construction

Chrissi3-300x202We had an interesting conversation yesterday which involved someone asking where they could find a specialist to talk about equality.  When we said that we could do this for them, they mentioned that they were looking for an equality and diversity specialist, not a construction specialist. Knowing that the customer is always right we thought we had better clear this one up.

We are an organisation that specialises in construction equality; the reason we can do this so well and can be confident that we are providing solutions that drive the right results for your business is that we are experts in equality across the board.

In fact we go a little beyond that and we don’t just look at the current thinking in equality and diversity – we dig deeper to understand what the research says about this thinking, how well it has stood the test of time and if it is likely to cause any predictable side-effects.

We are very strong believers in equality, but we know from the work of (Tajfel, 1981) that if you set people in different groups with opposing tasks they will work against each other, even out of office hours.

We kinda think the term ‘equality’ can cause that separation sometimes – not because that’s what it should do, but because that’s how it is often misunderstood. Equality is often seen as being about other people, even when technically we are the other people. This is why we prefer to say fairness, inclusion and respect.

We also know that organisations who have an inclusive environment are more likely to have employees that are positively receptive to equality initiatives (even when using the term ‘equality’) than companies that have a more individualistic environment (Huo, Y & Tyler, 2001).

We have looked at the research around diversity training (Kalev., Dobbin, & Kelly., 2006), diversity strategies (Dobbin & Kalev, 2013) and other initiatives (Ness, 2010), both inside the industry and out of it, to understand what works, where it works and importantly why it works.

Because we devote an incredible amount of time to reading and understanding the context not just wider than construction, but wider than equality; considering psychology, sociology and behavioural economics to name a few, we can explain why the business case is a little more complex, and a little more robust than it might appear at first glance.  We can also explain why equality shouldn’t always be your first concern when aiming to create an equal organisation (it sounds odd but that’s where our research on attitudes and behaviour is important) and not just what practice is, but what current thinking is. In other words where equality is going.

We also know what we don’t know (or at least where we don’t feel we have the depth) which is where we redirect you to our trusted friends; organisations who we think like to read research and invest in people as much as we do, for example Stonewall.

We can create solutions for individual companies just as easily as our proven solutions for entire industries; we can only do this because we know our field so well.

So yes, we are construction specialists, but that’s only because we are very much equalities experts.

NB – Caroline has pointed out that we should probably mention that our academic qualifications in equality alone include a PGdip, PgCert and acceptance onto a doctoral programme.

 

Pride in Construction – why the LGBT agenda matters to all of us.

PrintHere at Constructing Equality Ltd we are getting rather excited as next week we are hosting a tent in the community area at Liverpool Pride, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) celebration.

We have been overwhelmed with the support shown already by the industry with Morgan Sindall coming along and bringing the Ivor Goodsite Mascot, hazard game and prizes. CITB also have 5 representatives coming with the giant tetrahedron, giant jigsaw and infamous BAM game. ISG, Space Architects and AECOM are all fielding representatives too.

We are aiming to show that while it’s true that the sector is lagging behind when it comes to challenging inappropriate behaviour towards the LGBT community, the important thing is that it is making efforts to move forward to become a more inclusive sector that understands the challenges presented to the LGBT community.

Because, like it or not, the challenges are there. What’s more, they could be adversely affecting your business.

It goes a little something like this – people are most productive when they are happy; positive relationships with people significantly affect how happy we are in the workplace.  We build relationships by talking about home, family, sports, interests, etc. – if someone is gay and they perceive the workplace to be unwelcoming of that information they are likely to hide detail and either create a second life, or simply not discuss things at all. This in turn can make an individual unhappy in the workplace and consequently less productive.

People often make the mistake of thinking the LGBT community is about what happens in the bedroom, but as with the rest of us, that’s only part of any relationship; and often not the most important part.

Our sexual orientation can impact: – on what we did at the weekend (if we went out with our partner, or went out looking for one); the places we visit (if they are gay-friendly); the hobbies we enjoy (if these can be prejudged against stereotypes).

How much of the time you spend with your significant other is spent in a sexy way? How much more involves trust, love, caring – not to mention the more mundane shopping, finance or DIY?

I like to think people are mostly lovely, if a bit confused at times. A lot of the time I don’t think most of us mean to hurt when we use gay slurs – they have become common place and almost ingrained in language.

BUT we must appreciate that the LGBT community is discriminated against – I personally know more than two members of the LGBT community who have been physically assaulted for their sexual orientation; not because they flaunted it (not that that is remotely justifiable in anyway whatsoever), but simply because someone else did not accept it.

So I ask two things of you: –

  1. Watch the language that you use, even if your intention is not to offend – because if someone feels that their environment might not be welcoming to their circumstances, they are likely to closet themselves
  2. Support the gay community where you can – it doesn’t have to be anything big, just calling someone out if they make a derogatory remark will be huge. But, if you happen to be in Liverpool next Saturday (2nd August) come on down to Pier Head, find our tent and help us show the gay community that construction is ready for a change.

“Worst to Work in” – Why the UK’s poor working practices could be an opportunity for the sector

Construction has seen its fair share of bad treatment of employees with scandals such as blacklisting, false self-employment and zero hours contracts all hitting the headlines in recent months.

It should be noted that it is not only this sector which is not performing when it comes to the rights and protection of the workforce.

In fact the UK as a whole came in with a fairly abysmal score of 3 in an index developed by the International Trade Union Confederation. A score of 3 identifies that the following is happening: –

  • Regular violation of rights
  • Governments or companies are regularly interfering in collective labour rights
  • There are deficiencies in laws and/or certain practices that make these violations

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Countries with recent histories of disruption such as Rwanda, Malawi and Montenegro have all been able to achieve a higher score.

Shame aside, there are a couple of reasons why this is important to us in construction, firstly with such a transient workforce and global construction companies it’s good to know where we may or may not experience a more (or less) troubled workforce.

Secondly, and rather more importantly, whilst we acknowledge that as a sector we are not leading the field in relation to treatment of our workers, the introduction of industry-wide content-driven tools, such as the CITB Be Fair Framework, provide us with an opportunity to change that.

Because if we can bring about change and show that we can provide a safe supportive environment to work in, coupled with the pre-existing positives of the sector such as variety, chance to travel and being part of a team, we will have a tangible, fascinating, business-leading product; if we can do that we might just gain the edge on securing key talent for our future.

 

“Touched up” – understanding what sexual harassment says about the work-place

Chrissi3-300x202In a week where Rolf Harris has found himself before the courts on a number of sexual harassment charges, we thought it would be a good idea to explain why sexual harassment is a wide spectrum with far reaching implications; that it isn’t down to the individual (man, trans or woman) to complain when it has happened to them, it’s down to the individual (again man, trans or woman) not to inappropriately touch other people.

Sounds obvious? I wish.

We live in a society where inappropriate touching (formally known as sexual harassment) is not taken as seriously as it should be. Personally I’ve been told to “lighten up” when complaining about a colleague grabbing my backside. We have to understand this sends a serious message to people – it says: –
You are in the wrong for NOT putting up with it.

The reason this is a serious message? Besides the fact that it makes people uncomfortable, oppressed, stressed, angry or annoyed? – It also makes people seek new employers and even new industries.

Now I’m not saying construction is the worst sector for this, but we are certainly not the best and we have to start looking at the way we approach things and how this sets individuals up to believe they are entitled to grab, grope and maul away to their perverted heart’s content.

Please note I’m not talking about drunken dalliances with co-workers on nights out here – that’s a different conversation that many of us have stumbled into. Rather, this blog is about how we approach complete strangers in a professional setting.

Let’s use a real life example. We were recently at an awards dinner where the “entertainment consisted of semi-naked women standing around by doors, or doing a bit of sexually charged dancing. There were male entertainers but they were fully clothed and carrying out a skill such as juggling” The first message sent here is that women are primarily there to be looked at, men on the other hand have a use.

Not a great start, but for those of you who might think that I’m looking for it, I agree that as a one off I could let this slide – turns out though they had the same set up the year before – come on, that’s sending a message surely?

Later on in the evening the female host (a very funny and entertaining woman) gave a summation of the tables including the most likely to pass out, the most welcoming, the one that called her an ‘ugly tart’ and the table to go to “if you want your arse touched up”.

The room laughed, and whilst I understand she delivered it in a humorous way – she had to it was her job – as a room we should have been appalled. At a time when we are talking about how we improve the industry’s image, especially to outsiders, what on earth makes us think that that sends out a positive view of the sector?
When I explained my concerns to the organiser the response was, “she didn’t complain, so it’s not a problem”.
I am concerned that if that’s the best we can do at an event that named itself the very best and most progressive of the industry.

As a woman in that room I felt undervalued, I felt that sent a clear message – touching women up is funny, if you don’t think so you’re the problem. For me, the organisers of that evening sent a clear communication. We want women in the industry, as long as they let us touch their asses and laugh at our jokes.

We must, all of us, consider our impact. How can we berate the stereotypical image of a wolf-whistling man on site and not see that this behaviour as equally wrong, if not worse?

The silver-lining was the amount of men that approached us, clients, main contractors and sub-contractors to ask what we thought and voice their own disappointment, and I quote a male bricklayer “it’s outdated and simply not the right place”.

If you’re arranging an event in the industry and you’re unsure of how to arrange entertainment and facilitation that is inclusive and enjoyable, do feel free to get in touch.

Constructing Equality Ltd: Press Release – Online Learning

Online Learning for Construction Launched

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Equality and diversity specialists for the construction industry Constructing Equality Ltd, will launch their first online training programmes aimed at enabling people in construction to learn more about the legal and business aspects of equality in the workplace as well as what they can do themselves to support fairness.

Market leaders in construction-specific face to face equality and diversity training already, Constructing Equality have felt the need for high quality, user-friendly and accessible training for everyone and what they have delivered are programmes at Introduction and Foundation levels for staff in construction businesses whether on site or in the office.

Constructing Equality’s dedicated online learning development manager, Matt Crouch said,

“It was important to us that we not only maintained our excellent track record for high quality innovative training but that it could reach everyone. The courses work through our Online Learning Management System that companies can have adapted to fit their own brand style and learners can access the courses from tablets and smart phones as well as laptops or their desk-tops.

“More importantly,” he went on to say, “Learners can work through the programmes in bite-size chunks if they struggle to find the time to complete a course all at once – it’s our job to make it as easy as possible for people to focus on their learning whenever and wherever they have the opportunity.”

Constructing Equality have sought consultation, opinion and feedback directly from the industry and end users of their online training throughout the development process with companies and organisations like Vinci, Seddons, Graham, CECA, CIC, Robertson, ISG, CITB and more all participating in successful tests of the course materials and the Learning Management System.

Constructing Equality Ltd will be hosting a full launch webinar on Thursday 3rd July at 12.30pm when they release the full Foundation course alongside the existing Introductory course.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the online learning or sampling the training can find out more at http://constructingequality.co.uk/online-training/#sthash.SAwy4SyD.dpbs

Online Learning Management System

Now that Constructing Equality Ltd have officially launched their one hour – Introduction to Equality & Diversity in the UK Construction Industry online learning course, which has been tested and reviewed by the industry. We want to give you a sneak peek into our Online Learning Management System as we highlight the benefits it can bring for you.

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We want to ensure that all our audiences have suitable accessibility to our Online Learning Management system – this has been achieved by reducing limitations that other systems bring to users such as being unable to access your course when your workplace is not always at your desk or in the same place which means it can take a long time to be able to complete your online programme. By making our courses available through other devices such as tablets and mobile devices you can access your learning programme wherever you are and whenever convenient.

Making our content informative and engaging was vital when designing our online course, using Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) Packages. SCORM packages are supported by all Learning Management Systems and allowed us to create game packages that deliver the important learning outcomes of the course in a fun, engaging and interactive way.  We have made gaining a greater understanding around Equality and Diversity and the benefits this brings to your business fun for our learners as well as educational. 

One common issue which was highlighted within our research and feedback was that finding information and case studies on search engines can be somewhat of an annoyance and even I myself understand the pain of swarming through the internet trying to find that needle within the haystack. This is why we focused on making our LMS as user-friendly as possible. We make all our information and supporting documents, such as Wikis, FAQs and glossaries easy to find at just a click of a button. 

Q – Online Training or Training Workshops which is better?

This question is asked frequently and the answer isn’t so simple, but what we do know is that when participating in courses students love the debates, discussions and interaction between themselves and tutors. This has encouraged us to make our Online Learning Management system as engaging as possible – our Online Learning Manager, Matt Crouch, has been seeking new ways to help create rapport between student tutor relationships. By focusing on the interaction of discussion boards and creating debates which give students the learning environment structure similar to classrooms it allows the audience to get the most out of their experiences.

Q – How can I make our training courses unique to our company?

This is why we made our courses flexible allowing them to be appropriate to companies’ requirements; our presentations on the Online Learning Management System can also be made to conform to company branding guidelines to enable them to fit in with any other training from other providers. Additionally videos, documents, policies, etc. relevant to a particular company can be incorporated, if desired. This can give the Online Learning Course a unique look suitable for your company.

This weeks blog was written by Paul Boothroyd our IT Trainee and Business Administrator who has currently been working on Designing and Developing Constructing Equality’s Online Learning Management System.

For more information please feel free to read the product brochure below

Introduction to Equality & Diversity Course – 1 hour (opens as pdf)

Foundation Equality & Diversity Course (opens as pdf)

If you would like to trial the Online Learning please visit the following page and fill out the registration form here

A fresh view on equality; the Constructing Equality Limited approach

Traditionally work around equality has focused on either the business itself looking into its processes and practices, or at minority Chrissi3-300x202groups seeking to understand their experience of the workplace and how to put measures in place to improve it.

These are both worthwhile and important areas of concern, but we believe that in private organisations by focusing on these aspects we miss the most crucial element of success; the current attitudes of all the people working within the business.

Research shows us that even good diversity strategies can have a damaging impact if the right information has not been shared with the workforce as a whole, and in industries with additional cultural challenges, such as construction, where there is a long-hours culture and false self-employment and stress are rife these effects are only likely to be amplified.

That’s why our approach seeks to determine the measures that must be put in place before we can start trying to mainstream equality as, no matter how good the initiative is, if the general workforce does not perceive themselves to have fair and respectful working conditions, deviant behavior and discrimination could well be the most likely outcomes.

Therefore we suggest that the first step must be generating positive engagement from individuals within the organisation, seeking to gain a critical mass of positive attitudes towards equality, only then do we start to implement further action that focuses on the situation for minority groups.

We do this using tools developed from research around Organisational Justice, Human Capital, super-ordinate tasks and inter-group co-operation and engagement. Tying together these different models we are careful to research our outcomes to ensure that our work has a positive and long-lasting effect for businesses and employees. Whilst this might seem complex and theoretical, our ability as leaders in the field to transform academic research and insight into simple, useable practice is something we pride ourselves upon.

So far our work has seen positive results with employers reporting 10% rises in positive attitudes to equality and a 5% rise in over all employee engagement, increased participation in the equality agenda and proactive uptake and support of equality initiatives.

Although our roots are in construction, our systems do not need to be. The models we have created to make organisational change can be applied to any business, as can the tools that go with them. Our mission is to support companies in achieving their equality and diversity goals alongside longer term bottom line concerns. If that sounds good to you let us know how we can help.

Online Training Launch

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After 8 months of designing, writing and testing with the industry, TODAY will see the soft launch of our one-hour Equality and Diversity online training. The training released today is split into three sections: – legal; benefits; and what you can do.  It is aimed at informing employees about the benefits of fairness, inclusion and respect in the workplace as well as engaging them with this agenda which will encourage them to see it as an important part of their role within their organisation.

Once again, we would like to offer our thanks to the companies and people that tested the product as well as those who took time to offer their feedback which has helped us to develop a product that is right for the industry. So thank you to Robertson, BAM, BAM Nuttall, CITB, Miller, Galliford Try, Vinci, CECA, CECA Members, CIC, Seddons, Wates, Bell GroupHochtief Murphy Joint Venture, Volkerstevin, NFB, Shepherds, ISG, Jackson Civils, Volker Fitzpatrick, Costain, Morgan Sindall, Volkerwessels, Balfour Beatty, Owen Pugh, The Clancy Group, Alun Griffiths, Crossrail, E C Harris, Select Plant Hire, Taylor Wimpey and Graham

Also, a big thank you to Construction Manager who did a write-up of the online training, which you can see here

For those of you interested in finding out more about our online training, you have a number of options: –

  1. Visit our website for information and pricing as well as to register your interest
  2. Buy a license – you can buy a yearly license for a set number of employees.
  3. Buy a fixed number of uses with the option to move to a license at a later date if desired.
  4. Try it on our online Learner Management System. If you would like to test the training before making any decisions we can give you a trial via our online Learner Management System.
  5. Sign up to our full launch webinar taking place on Thursday 3rd July 2014 at 12.30pm. This webinar will launch the full three-hour online training package that will sit alongside the one hour course released today. Please note the webinar intends to demonstrate the online learning package and will not include the full training courses.

From the webinar on 3rd July you will be able to select either the one-hour – or the three-hour course – whichever best suits your needs.

You can register your interest for both the online learning and for places on the webinar here or by emailing Patrick direct via Patrick@constructingequality.co.uk— we look forward to “seeing” you on the 3rd!

Don’t Get Distracted

Maya Angelou

In the same week that Maya Angelou, world-renowned and respected writer, poet and civil activist – “…a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace”, died at her home in North Carolina we are worrying through the media about how despite Scotland  being more ethnically diverse (2011 Census) than ever, the proportion of Britons admitting to being racially prejudiced is increasing.

 

As a contemporary and colleague of key figures striving for people’s civil rights like Malcom X and Dr Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou has been central to some monumental moments in history in the fight for fairness, tolerance, respect and equality.

 

Maya Angelou taught us all so much about women’s rights too and about humanity in general – she gave us so many lessons to learn that it would behove us to try to live up to her legacy rather be waylaid by an apparent avalanche of backsliding on the journey towards equality that seems to be hanging over us.