Religious celebration – Diwali festival

Case study ISGDiverse workplace culture is viewed by ISG as key to staff cohesion and retention, and as a differentiator that adds real benefit and value to the business.

Our activities in this area are integrated into our day to day business and reflect the principles of fairness, inclusion and respect, whilst aiming to mitigate unconscious bias. One example of how we attempt to embrace diverse cultures in the Company is through the recent celebration of the Diwali festival in one of our local offices.

Diwali Festival

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, celebrates new beginnings, the emergence of light from darkness and the triumph of good over evil. It is also observed by Sikhs and Jains, and in many British cities has evolved into a celebration that welcomes all cultures.

How people celebrate Diwali

The festival is celebrated over 10 days with the peak of the festival being the 23 October this year. Modern celebrations incorporate bright electric lights and fireworks and lots of them – India’s Diwali illuminations can be seen from space. Sharing and exchanging gifts is also a major event during these times and it includes, sweets, dry fruits, fruits, gifts etc. People tend to forget all types of grudges and difference between each other and come forward to celebrate it. In terms of traditional clothes during the festival, females usually wear sarees and males wear Kurta Pujama or Shervani.

We celebrated the festival in the Bradford office on the 23 October 2014 by a number of staff volunteering to cook a traditional meal for their colleagues which included curry, rice, chapattis, somosas and pakoras. The event proved to be a success with colleagues enjoying the meal together in the office kitchen and we are encouraging others from across the business to suggest other ways we can embrace the diverse cultures.

Age is no limit for training at Durkan

DurkanLogo_124810Bronze Level Be Fair accredited Durkan are working hard to prove that age need not be any barrier to retraining in the construction trades.

Durkan work closely with training partner Construction Training Initiative (CTI) to deliver accredited training opportunities to residents in some of the most diverse communities in the UK.

CTI are the training arm of social housing group Notting Hill Housing and share Durkan’s equality and diversity values and objectives. The partnership uses positive action recruitment strategies, focusing on recognising potential and removing barriers to inclusion.

A prime example of how this approach can achieve success is demonstrated by the case of Porsche Nelson. At 49 years of age Porsche approached CTI at an outreach opportunities event in Merton South West London.

Unemployed for some time, Porsche not only was desperate to work, but he wanted to gain the skills that would get him a good position with job satisfaction and a decent wage. Impressed by Porsche’s enthusiasm and commitment CTI secured him an accredited apprenticeship as a carpenter and placed him with Durkan for his site experience.

Porsche has come through his apprenticeship with flying colours and in July 2014 achieved his career goal by being taken on as a permanent employee by his current mentoring sub-contractor Woodpecker Carpentry.  Well done Porsche!

North West Mentor Scheme

ISGLogo_124758A workplace mentoring scheme, titled ‘The Learner Voice’, was piloted in the North West. ISG participated in the scheme with five team members supporting the initiative, which is a partnership between the Construction Industry Council (CIC) North-West Regional Committee, the Higher Education Academy and CITB.

A consortium of universities in the North West agreed to take part in the scheme which aims to match 2nd year Built Environment undergraduates with construction industry professionals who have successfully built careers in their chosen fields.

Students at four universities were mentored. The partnerships were suggested on the experience that each representative could offer, and also linked in to where each mentor was brought up, to add extra relevance.

Richard Wynne was studying for a BSc (Hons) in Construction Management at Liverpool John Moores University, and had regular meetings, discussing topics including Risk Assessment and Method Statements (RAMS), forms of procurement variation management and the overall construction market.

Richard commented: “It has been great to get some support and guidance from somebody working in construction, offering an insight into how the industry really works. Gary’s knowledge and use of real world examples has given me a better understanding of some key areas, and this will certainly help in making the transition from study to the workplace.”

ISG will continue to participate in the scheme and other areas are now also looking to roll out the scheme.

Morgan Sindall at Liverpool Pride

IMG_4238_144654Morgan Sindall is passionate about supporting the communities around the UK in which they work and attending Liverpool Pride presented a great opportunity to do this. Constructing Equality coordinated events which saw Morgan Sindall, alongside a range of other companies, represent the construction industry.

In addition to this, Morgan Sindall also wanted to promote construction as a career of choice to all with whom they spoke, as well as to highlight the dangers of construction sites to children. Hence they invited Ivor Goodsite to the event along with the Hunt the Hazard board. Ivor really helped to encourage festival goers to come and speak to everybody and even had a little dance to the variety of music!

Actors help Sovini instill culture

sovinilogo_103028Sovini Property Services is committed to ensuring that Best Practice in Equality and Diversity is instilled in their culture. Their people strive to make a difference in local communities and have been involved in mentoring young people and volunteering at the Liverpool Pride Festival and other local community events.

Recently they demonstrated their commitment to Equality and Diversity by investing in a radical training initiative for over 200 employees.  The aim of the initiative was to use live actors and real scenarios to challenge a variety of Equality and Diversity issues around mental health, race, sexuality, and to promote professional boundaries.

This approach ensured that their employees could engage with the impact of current Equality and Diversity issues on people and the wider community. The training was really well received by employees and people were still talking about it for days afterwards.

Employees commented: “The way the training was delivered was brilliant. It really brought home the issues and made it come alive”. The training made such an impact that they have now decided to deliver the course to 60 of their involved tenants.

The company who delivered the training was called AFTA Thought

Employee Resource Groups

lendlease_102751The first formal monthly LGBT Employee Resource Group (ERG) was held on 3rd July 2014. Therefore, the LGBT ERG is in the initial phase of planning and utilising existing successful Lend Lease best practice from Sydney and the USA.

Lend Lease has committed to participating in the 2014 Stonewall Equality Index. Participating in the Equality Index will demonstrate Lend Lease’s commitment to LGBT and also help the business identify barriers/gaps to creating an LGBT inclusive workforce and also be utilised to benchmark and measure success.

Lend Lease’s LGBT ERG is utilising current successful initiatives launched by Lend Lease in Sydney and USA i.e. ‘Lend Lease Allies’ are volunteers within the organisation who LGBT employees can go to should they require any advice or support about whether they should be open about their sexuality (similar to mentors/buddies). Senior Leaders within the Australian business are openly LGBT, therefore encouraging employees to be open about their sexuality and providing visible role models.

A ‘No By Standers’ campaign is being piloted at the Kingsgate Project. This pilot is being delivered in collaboration with Stonewall to promote diversity and LGBT on Construction projects and tackle bullying and abuse related to D&I using posters etc.

LGBT ERG has developed an action planning for the coming year to develop and foster diversity and inclusion.

Lend Lease were the first Construction and Development Company to register with Stonewall.

Going for Gold with Olympic training initiatives

0_125602The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the London Development Agency (LDA) developed a multi-agency approach and partnerships with main contractors to help develop positive working relationships and changes in practice.

Training was one of the biggest hurdles identified for non-white ethnic minority groups entering construction and accessing the right training programmes to ensure they had the skills they needed to be job-ready for opportunities. The LDA funded a number of programmes, including two training schools, located near the Olympic park itself, to train skills such as plant operations, formwork, concreting and scaffolding.

These training programmes were designed to increase the skills of Londoners in trades and jobs which were likely to be in high demand during the games build and in other ongoing large civil engineering projects such as Crossrail and the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

In 2008 the LDA supported over 12,000 people gained skills related to the Olympic Games, over half of whom were from non-white ethnic minorities.

Emanuel Whittaker target underrepresentation

Emmanual Whittaker

The inquiry talked at length to three of their employees from non-white ethnic minority backgrounds and to the chief executive.

The firm developed a variety of initiatives to diversify its workforce in recognition of the changing nature of the communities within which they operate:

  • To take advantage of the potential for new communities to widen the pool of recruits
  • In recognition of the value of reflecting the communities served to deliver improved customer confidence
  • To develop a greater understanding of the needs of their clients and of social housing tenants.

Their diversity initiatives also recognised that certain groups were less likely to apply for work in the industry.

The methods used by the firm to increase diversity in both recruitment and retention of staff included:

  • Developing specific diversity objectives and plans for achieving them
  • Setting recruitment and retention targets across non-white ethnic groups
  • Changing facilities to accommodate cultural and religious requirements

Cruden – Investor in Diversity

cruden-Housing-logo_104515Back 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.

A FIRst class employer

CITB BE Fair FrameworkUK 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