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

30% of O’Rourke apprentices to be women

Anna-Stewart-2012_jpg-190x126Laing O’Rourke has pledged to ensure that 30% of new recruits on its apprenticeship and cadet programme are women by 2016.

The target was unveiled as O’Rourke supported the government’s ‘Your Life’ campaign to encourage more women into engineering.

O’Rourke also said that 40% of undergraduate sponsorship opportunities would be offered to women by 2016.

Anna Stewart, Group Chief Executive, Laing O’Rourke said: “Opportunities abound in engineering and construction for women with the intellect and ambition to fulfil their potential and help drive our industry forward.

“The engineering and technology sectors need to be bold and innovative in attracting new talent from all walks of life.

“That’s why I firmly believe that positively promoting workforce diversity through programmes like Your Life will have a transformational effect on the way we respond to the challenges of a post-recession world, driving greater adoption of new technologies and ways of working.”

O women, where art thou?

Female_construction_220_1_RICS UK Chief Executive Officer Sean Tompkins argues that it’s important for professional bodies and leading employers to unite in the effort to attract more women into construction.

‘O Women where art thou?’ would be an appropriate question from anyone looking at the latest statistics showing the make up of the UK construction sector. In an industry which employs more than 2.5 million people, any company (hopefully, all companies) looking to fool-proof their growth plans needs to consider how to access this pipeline of ‘untapped’ talent, which today sees women making up just 11% of the sector, with a mere 1.2% working in manual labour trades.

And if the latest RICS construction market survey, which highlights skills shortages, isn’t the prompt companies up and down the country need to sit up and think seriously about how to attract, retain and progress more women to the sector, then the latest GDP figures showing that the UK is “officially out of the recession” ought to – if only because they move the debate on from “when” to “how”. After all, how can you expect to compete in the market and deliver some of the major projects coming on tap now if you are not using the expertise of 53% of the population?
I believe this is precisely the wake-up call that industry needs. As Lord Heseltine said recently, “to invite criticism is a sign of strength and to accept it a sign of confidence”. The culture of leadership and the environment it casts seem to be the key differentiator of success in addressing this challenge head on. Now seems like no better time for industry to challenge the status quo and implement real long lasting change.

RICS is keen to lead in this arena. Firstly through our diversity and careers campaign to attract a wider variety of candidates into the construction/property sector and spark meaningful debate on the trajectory of female professionals from classroom to boardroom. Because, while we acknowledge that our profession’s employment credentials are marginally better the rest of the UK construction industry, with just 13% of chartered surveyors being female and 28% students/trainees, there is still room for progress. And there is progress to build on, as in the eighties only 3% of qualified chartered surveyors were female.
It’s important too that professional bodies and leading employers unite in this challenge. There is some excellent work already being done to bring about wholesale culture change, examples include the ‘Change the Skyline’ initiative, launched by Gardiner & Theobold, to encourage young people and women to join the construction and property sector, as well as the ‘Changing the Face of Property’ consortium including JLL, CBRE, Savills, Knight Frank and Cushman & Wakefield, to attract people from more diverse backgrounds. We are all however united in one view, much more can, should and will be done.

33 contractors set to receive ‘BeFair’ accreditation under new CITB scheme

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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.

National scandal as blacklisters handed victims addresses

UCATT LogoConstruction union UCATT have described revelations that leading blacklisters have been handed “lock, stock and barrel” the names of blacklisted victims as a “national scandal”.

In a statement published today (April 11) the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme, said “When the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme (TCWCS) launches we will be writing to everyone whose name is on TCA records and for whom there are contact details; we will also be publicising the scheme to reach as many people as possible.”

It then further emerged in a statement from the Information Commissioners Office who seized the Consulting Association’s blacklist in 2009 that: “We (the ICO) received a court order that required our office to provide copies of the information seized from the Consulting Association. The order was complied with.”

Steve Murphy, General Secretary of UCATT, said: “This is a national scandal and a disgrace. The main blacklisters have been handed local, stock and barrel the files the ICO seized in 2009. The blacklisters will now have their victims’ updated addresses and have been given the means to blacklist their victims again.”

UCATT are now in the process of writing to the ICO to find out on what grounds the list was given to the blacklisting companies.

Mr Murphy added: “The ICO exists to protect an individual’s personal data. This is the equivalent of giving a burglar your new address so that they can come round and rob you again.”

 

Racial Diversity Neglected by Top British Firms, Warns Vince Cable

Vince Cable has accused the UK’s top companies of neglecting racial diversity in its boardrooms and urged business to use a wider talent pool when making senior appointments.

His comments came as the business secretary unveiled the latest statistics on women in the boardroom, which revealed that 20.7% of FTSE 100 directors are female, up from 12.5% in 2011.

Cable said: “I can think of very few black people at the top end of British business. What we’ve been doing with gender is right, but diversity is more than that. The area is neglected. It needs serious consideration.”

More than half of FTSE 100 companies have no non-white directors and two-thirds have no full-time minority executives at board level, a study found.

The study – by Trevor Phillips, former equalities commission chairman, and Richard Webber, of King’s College London – said UK competitiveness was put at risk by a lack of diversity in senior corporate roles, with just a dozen women occupying the 289 posts of chairman, chief executive and finance director in the FTSE 100.

In 2011, Lord Davies, ex-boss of Standard Chartered bank, was tasked by the government with improving the numbers of women in senior business roles and set FTSE 100 companies the goal of increasing female board membership to 25% by 2015.

The next biggest 250 companies were also encouraged to employ more female directors. Women account for only 15.6% of FTSE 250 directors and there are 48 boards comprising exclusively men.

The rise in the number of female directors is driven by the appointment of non-executives, rather than more women being hired as executive directors. Davies says only 6.9% of executive directors are female, up from 5.8% last year.

Even so, the campaign has been viewed as a success, especially as the rise in female directors has strengthened the UK’s argument against the imposition of compulsory quotas from the EU, and Davies committee members are now talking of a “final push to get over the finish line”.

Cranfield University, which provides the analysis underpinning the report, recommended five ways FTSE 100 companies could hire the 48 female directors needed to hit the 25% target, including pushing out board members after nine years in the same role.

Susan Vinnicombe, a Cranford professor who sits on the Davies steering committee, said: “There are 82 non-executive directors in the FTSE 100 who have held seats for more than nine years. The challenge for chairmen is to review this.”

John Heaps, of the law firm Eversheds, said: “Progress is still not translated into a ‘business as usual’ state where all candidates, whatever their gender, are assessed on equal terms. It is that residual bias that now requires attention.”

The release of the Davies report coincided with Thomas Cook making its own contribution to the improving statistics by appointing Annet Aris as an independent non-executive director.

Thomas Cook’s chairman, Frank Meysman, said: “We recognise the benefits of diversity and with Annet’s appointment the board comprises four women and five men, of which four are based in the UK, three in continental Europe, one in Turkey and one in the US, who have a broad range of skills and experience that are relevant to our business.”

CITB reveals extent of inappropriate language in construction

A CITB survey has revealed that sexist, racist, and homophobic language is regularly used in the construction industry.

An online survey of more than 500 construction workers discovered that:

  • 61% had heard sexist language at work in the past year, and 14% said they heard it once a week or more
  • More than half (53%) of respondents had heard racist language at work in the past 12 months and 14% claimed to have heard racist language at least once a week
  • Almost half (48%) of workers had heard homophobic language in the past year, while 13% had heard it at least once a week
  • 51% reported hearing ageist language in the past 12 months, with 11% claiming to hear it once a week or more

While most of those surveyed described the tone of offensive language as “banter”, 17% of incidents were described as patronising and 6% as direct insults.

12% of women admitted to having their confidence knocked by offensive language used in the industry and 4% said they had left a job because of it.

CITB Director of Communications and Change, Nicola Thompson said the survey highlighted the challenge that faces the construction industry as it looks to address diversity issues.

“If people feel unhappy coming to work because of the language and behaviours they face, it risks leading to the exclusion of talented people from the industry. We need to take action.”

She added that CITB is trying to address diversity issues through its Be Fair Framework, which launches in June this year.

“Developed with industry, its aim is to help create more inclusive working environments, both in office and on sites, making sure workers are treated fairly and with respect.”

Scottish firm among the first to win new Be Fair award

26th March GRAHAM Construction has become one of the first firms to win a new industry award celebrating equality and diversity in the workplace – presented by CITB Scotland.

CITB’s “Be Fair” Accreditation Framework is a new industry-specific equality standard – the first of its kind – providing a structure for employers to address fairness, inclusion and respect (FIR) within their organisation.

Piloted in 2013 at 100 firms across the UK, the accreditation is being awarded to achieving companies who realise the business and commercial benefit of fully understanding, embracing and harnessing the diversity of the workforce, their customers and the culturally diverse environment in which they work.

GRAHAM this week became the first major construction firm in Scotland to receive the Be Fair Bronze level award after successfully participating in the programme.

Among the firm’s achievements were engaging staff and subcontractors, assembling a team of champions, developing a manual for the management, and standardising processes across the business in Scotland.

Head of Resources Michael Smyth said: “GRAHAM has long been at the forefront of equality and diversity practice within the construction industry and we firmly believe that promoting equality in the workplace will be both beneficial to our staff and pivotal for our continued success.

“We are therefore tremendously proud to be the first large contractor in Scotland to achieve the Bronze level of the Be Fair framework, which has allowed us to benchmark our own activity to promote diversity against a national standard.

“To date GRAHAM has assembled a Be Fair team of champions, who promote the equality agenda on every site and has developed a Be Fair site manual which can be adapted by managers to suit local needs. A system for internal auditing has also been developed which drives performance through healthy competition between our network of sites.

“We have been impressed by the positive reaction across all levels of staff and by our subcontractors to the framework and intend rolling the framework out across our project network during 2014.
“Even those managers sceptical of change have bought in to the benefits of equality and diversity and are volunteering to implement the framework on their sites ahead of schedule.

“Encouraged by our success our next goal is to attain the Silver level as early as 2015 to cement our status as one of industry’s best practitioners of equality and diversity.”

Taking the lead

Within Be Fair, CITB has pledged to lead the sector in equality, diversity and inclusion to improve working practices by:

  • Ensuring employers are legally compliant and support their employees
  • Encouraging employers to actively take part and realise the benefits of a diverse workforce
  • Providing and ensuring training and resources are available and accessible to all
  • Changing the culture of the industry to change the perceptions and drive up recruitment, retention and progression of people from all backgrounds.

More information

Companies interested in finding out more about Be Fair can:

To read more please visit the full article

 

False self-employment in the UK construction industry – why tax regulations are putting the horse before the cart.

There’s been a lot of work by the government in recent years looking at false self-employment in the UK construction sector.  The driver for this work has always been that the government misses News Stories 17-03-2014out on, somewhere in the region of, £1.7 billion in revenue and therefore clamping down on what is perceived as a ‘fraudulent bunch’ is seen as the solution.

For those that don’t know, false self-employment is where someone is classed as self-employed and therefore has all the risk associated with running a business, but does not have any of the gains. For example, they would not be able to have someone else do their work on their behalf, nor could they decide whether or not to undertake work, determine their own hours or negotiate separate payments. What makes this situation damaging is that they also don’t have the protection afforded to the employed workforce with regards to holiday pay, sick pay, employment rights or retirement pay.

In 2009, the last time the government acted on this issue, it could be argued that they succeeded in doing little more than making the whole situation a lot worse. Instead of protecting the workforce it succeeded in starting up a multi-million pound industry that charged individuals £15 – £25 pound per week extra.

UCATT has done some great work around this area and I would urge you to read it.

For now though, I want to talk about how this situation affects individuals and how, in turn, that is impacting on the sector.

In our work with the industry we have identified three main types of false self-employed people (remember – if you are self-employed and have the opportunity to turn down work, fix your own price or subcontract your works, we are NOT talking about you): –

 

“It’s just the way it is, you can’t change the sector”

Many people are resigned to the fact that this is just how the industry operates. Quite often these individuals are unhappy with the situation but don’t see another alternative and so accept it.

“It’s ridiculous; I don’t think I’ll be in the industry much longer”

Many new entrants to the industry expect something better, and are often appalled when they learn that they will be taking a reduction on an already low wage. Unfortunately, many of these individuals already have plans to ‘up sticks’ to a different sector once we come out of recession.  I find it rather worrying that we are losing people who have the capability of identifying negative employment practice – surely these should be people we fight to keep?!

“I like being self-employed, it gives me more flexibility”

‘Hegemony’ is a useful word – it means oppression by consent, and whilst I believe it will upset a few people to levy it here, it needs to be said. Often the problem with false self-employment is that people do not really understand what it means. There is something psychologically satisfying about being self-employed – I won’t deny that for a second. We have to start appreciating that a large part of the reason we now have so much false self-employment is because there are a large group of people that believe this is what is best.

This conversation we had with a roofer explains the situation: –

ME: Are you employed or self-employed?

Roofer: Self-employed.

ME: How long have you worked with just this company?

Roofer: Over 25 years.

ME: Would you like to be fully employed?

Roofer: No I like knowing I can leave when I want

ME: Do you have to give notice at the moment?

Roofer: Yes – one month.

This is a conversation that we have had many times. What it highlights to us is that there is a misunderstanding around what it really means to be employed by a company. We agree that companies also need to be educated to see the longer term benefits of an employed workforce, but we do need to understand that over the years a pride and identity has formed around the idea of a self-employed status – even if that not what it really is.

Why should we care? If we are not bothered about basic employment rights perhaps then we should consider the bottom line – if current practices are driving away new entrants who are cute enough to see past the hegemony, we are often left with only those who have no other choice than to accept these terms. This means that we are driving the industry towards an apathetic and unengaged workforce which will affect your bottom line. With regards to diversity, false self-employment is much more suited to the average white male for a number of reasons (which if you request it we will detail for you), so we will likely not move any further with this agenda either.

The solution? Education helps people to understand the real benefits by showing bottom line figures of how much better individuals would be over a year, how much companies would have to gain over 3 years and what the sector could look like if a return to employment was something we adopted across the sector. I know transient labour is an issue, but that is not an excuse for keeping all trade staff as self-employed, especially if they have worked solely for one company for over 3 years.

The industry has a great power in that it can make people find acceptability and pride in even the most dire of situations. I will admit to falling into similar traps myself, such as believing that 70 hour working weeks (without overtime) were acceptable, or that in order to prove myself I should be able to accept any behaviour directed at me. I would suggest that if we changed the way we treated people in the industry we would find that we empowered, educated and protected our workforce which would benefit all parties immensely.

Building Crossrail? That’s women’s work

News Stories 17-03-2014

Hard hats? Check. Hi-vis jackets? Check. Short back and sides? Er …

Meet Crossrail’s engineers, a group of women the firm hopes will put paid to the stereotype of construction being a man’s world.

Almost a third of Crossrail Ltd’s jobs are filled by women, compared with only 20 per cent in the construction industry as a whole.

Crossrail is particularly hoping to increase the number of engineers who are women. In the UK, that figure stands at only 8.5 per cent — the lowest in the whole of Europe.

Ailie MacAdam is responsible for delivering new tunnels and stations in central London and Docklands as part of the £14.8billion project. She said more needs to be done in schools to encourage girls to go into construction. “Over the next 10 years we need to double the number of people with engineering qualifications to meet the demand for skills,” she said.

“To achieve that, more must be done to attract and retain young women to what is a fabulous and rewarding career. Crossrail and its contractors regularly visit London schools to inspire the next generation of construction workers and engineers. But a joint effort is needed between schools, parents, government and industry to encourage more young people, including women, to pursue a construction and engineering career.”