The network is a forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professionals working within the infrastructure and construction sectors.
The network was founded by international law firm Pinsent Masons and Matthew Flood with the support of ‘Freehold‘, a real estate LGBT network formed in 2011.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual charity Stonewall has also given their support.
Who is the network targeted at?
Anyone who works in the infrastructure and construction sectors!
This includes, but is not limited to: construction and infrastructure industry professionals and their advisers, architects, project managers, construction lawyers, contractors, structural engineers, quantity surveyors, building surveyors, planners, environmental consultants, technical service providers, insurers and infrastructure fund managers and financiers.
What are the network’s aims?
The aims of the network are:
To provide a welcoming, supportive, safe and confidential space for all LGBT people and straight allies within the construction and infrastructure sector and related sectors to meet, share and discuss views, experiences or concerns.
To provide opportunities for peer networking, information sharing, and personal and professional development for LGBT members collectively or for the distinct groups of LGBT staff within the construction and infrastructure sectors.
To raise the profile, inspire and promote the achievements of LGBT professionals collectively or for the distinct groups of LGBT people within the construction and infrastructure sectors.
To develop and maintain relationships with other relevant external LGBT groups and networks.
Provide a platform for fundraising for LGBT community related charities.
To act as an adviser to companies in both the public and private sector & Government on LGBT users of infrastructure, including planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of such infrastructure to ensure that it is inclusive, attractive and safe for LGBT employees and members of public.
To work with schools, colleges and awarding bodies to raise the profile of the construction and infrastructure sector amongst young LGBT people
How do I get involved?
We plan to host regular events that will bring the construction and infrastructure sectors LGBT community together.
The launch event is on 15 July 2015.
If you would like to become a member of the network please register your interest through our registration page on our website
This week CITB announced the line-up of its new board and I think it’s fair to say that not many people were expecting 5 of the 8 members to be women, but they are. The biggest points are that it is a surprise, it is unexpected and it is cause for comment…should it really be?
As ever we thought we would offer our perspective on the appointments, what they might mean and the questions they might raise. Did BIS (they made the board selections) get it right? Is this ‘PC’ pandering? What does this mean for the sector?
So let’s grab the proverbial bull by the horns cos I know a few people are thinking it…they told me so.
Is this all just ‘PC’ gone mad; shouldn’t it be the best person for the job?
In that sentence lies the problem itself – the presumption that the women appointed will not be the best person for the job. Even when we have a full board of men we never question their ability based on gender, so why do we do this with women? Is it because they are under-represented in industry? If so, surely those that make it to the top, despite their difference, will be extraordinarily capable. Personally I feel these questions act as a barometer for how far we have progressed; if we are undermining the ability of women simply by their presence in a way that we would not do with men, we have a far way to go.
All the women are from HR – where are the construction women?
To be clear, Dr. Diana Garnham who is CEO, Science Council does not work in HR; rather her background is politics and war studies. That being said I understand the point that none of the women have worked in traditional technical construction jobs, or at least not so I could find on LinkedIn (I’m more than happy to be proven wrong here).
There are a couple of points here – firstly, that the question was not asked of the men – did they have previous roles in construction and if so how construction technical would that role have to be before it was accepted? If you did ask this and looked at the histories of the group members, rather than made an assumption – well done you. If though you presumed MD meant from a technical trade background, I don’t mind saying that is not always the case.
The second point is around what the industry needs; as a woman who worked in construction I do feel that it provides an insight that I would like to be represented on this panel. There is a lot of presumption made about the challenges faced by different groups in construction that varies from the actual experiences of those groups – without that representation, there is a risk that stories won’t be told and lessons won’t be learnt. In saying that, the opportunities for women in technical roles are challenging – this is a fact demonstrated by the lack of women nominated for the 2014 CIOB CMYA awards amongst other things.
I think the focus must be on what the board is trying to achieve, and at the moment where we are recognising that the task-based focus of the industry has led us away from understanding the needs of the people in the sector, it might just be that the HR perspective is needed. Without knowing more about the reasoning behind these decisions it’s hard to answer this point more exactly.
“Could CITB not find some women in construction to join the board. The HR thing is still a bit stereotypical.”
Why is only gender represented; what about disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.?
Firstly, you don’t know that it isn’t. If you only consider the diversity you can see you’re missing the point somewhat. I’ll agree the board is a touch pale, but that doesn’t in itself mean that ethnic diversity isn’t represented, just that you can’t see it. The same goes for disability, sexual orientation, etc. Also, in a group of 8 it’s hard to represent all things so some leeway must be given.
The reason gender is so important is that a good gender balance has been proven to have noticeable effects on attendance, punctuality, papers read in advance of meetings and reduction of ‘group think’. There is also research that indicates a greater return on investment from mixed gender boards.
What do you think?
Overall, I think this is good news; in the future of course I would like to see women from construction careers on the board, but I also want to see both men and women from non-construction careers represented too – having a viewpoint from outside of the industry pushes us further. If our work only looked at what construction has done historically we would not be able to make the leaps forward that we have. Using research and best practice from outside of the sector and tailoring it to the needs of this industry is an approach that we have found to work well.
I am hopeful that this board will help the industry refocus and better appreciate the needs of the people working within it, and if it takes half the board being from a background in HR to achieve that, then it’s ok by me.
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.
For this week’s blog we thought we’d like to show you an example of the good news we’ve been able to tell the press about the companies signing up for Be Fair – there’s no question that there’s been a groundswell in the North West so far, but we are also signing up and talking to companies that stretch from Scotland to the South Coast or are local to areas from London to Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire to Wales.
It has been fantastic to see the interest and drive from the companies so far for being part of the move to tackle their skills shortages by demonstrating fair working and employment practices for all. And the thing I love about my job is that when I speak with any of the companies taking on Be Fair, no matter what their question, I usually have an answer to help them – after all, that’s what Be Fair is for and what we as Assessment Providers are here for…to help and support companies to be the employers of choice they deserve to be or to win the work they want.
North West leads the way on fair working practices
This exciting and innovative framework is industry led, designed for the construction industry by the construction industry to promote a greater atmosphere of respect and to encourage best practice within the sector. North West firms are leading the way as some of the first contractors to embrace the framework, which is now being rolled-out across the construction sector.
Rosslee Construction, Emmanuel Whittaker, E.R. Williams and TMJ Contractors will be working with us at Constructing Equality Ltd. (the UK’s leading experts on equality and diversity in the construction industry), for assessment and support of the Framework, under licence from CITB. Our Be Fair Service Manager, Caroline Gee, said:
“We are very excited to be working with these local companies on Be Fair as some of the first contractors to lead the way for the construction industry in demonstrating they are fair employers and the kind of company people want to work for. The Be Fair Framework was successfully piloted nationwide over the last year, and has been a catalyst for business development for the companies who have taken part.”
Companies taking on the CITB Be Fair Framework and wishing to use Constructing Equality Ltd as their licensed provider for assessment can sign up directly through Constructing Equality Ltd or can select them at the registration point with CITB. Companies in-scope to CITB can currently take advantage of a £1000 incentive for accrediting under the framework.
A pilot inclusion and equality scheme run by the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) in which Wates Living Space joined twenty other construction companies to take part, has seen it awarded with the pilot ‘Be Fair’ people accreditation. The award was given to Living Space Planned Maintenance South which achieved an excellent 93%.
The pilot scheme is the very first industry-specific equality framework to encourage businesses to adopt practices which will enable them to maximise the rewards of our rich and diverse economy. As a member company of the pilot scheme, Wates Living Space’s feedback to CITB will enable the Be Fair accreditation scheme to be developed and rolled-out across the industry in the coming years.
Andy Hobart, Managing Director for Wates Living Space commented “This accreditation demonstrates that as a business we are firmly committed to creating and promoting an environment in which fairness, equality, inclusion and respect for people are at the heart of our people and recruitment activities and I thank everyone who took part in the assessment. These accreditations are vitally important for us in retaining and recruiting great people, and they also help us to win work. I thank all of our team who were involved in the assessments and who helped us to achieve this excellent accreditation.”
We are a small employer based in Carluke employing 26 people. We have recently achieved a brand new accreditation which has been introduced by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) aimed at demonstrating a commitment to fairness, inclusion and respect within the workplace. We were one of around 100 UK employers who applied last year to take part in a pilot roll out of the programme nationally and only 70 of these companies were accepted. Over a 10 month period, with a lot of long hours and hard work we successfully achieved accreditation. We were absolutely delighted by this as it’s recognition of our commitment to promoting a fairer working environment for our staff, something which Macform have always promoted. The most amazing part of this accomplishment is that nationally only 37 of the 73 companies taking part passed! In our category Small Main Contractor, only 3 companies achieved accreditation and we are the only SMC in Scotland to have succeeded!
I have worked for Macform Ltd for 18 months and been supported in my role by the 2 Directors, Ian and Pauline McLeish who care profoundly about the Company and all of the staff. Their continued commitment to the business has seen an increase in the number of contracts and in turn has created new jobs for local people, including appointing 2 new apprentices within the last 12 months. Macform Ltd are set to have a great future and are continuing to expand, generating further employment opportunities within the community.
RL Davies Construction Ltd, has been accredited under a new scheme developed by CITB and Constructing Equality, which recognises companies committed to fairness, inclusion and respect within the work place.
Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration, today joined RL Davies Construction ‘Be Fair’ team members on site at Cartrefi Conwy’s development in Llandudno, to present a plaque marking the company’s achievement.
Under the scheme, which was developed by CITB in partnership with Constructing Equality, employers have to meet a number of specified targets.
Those include; ensuring compliance with basic employment law and public sector requirements, developing good practice and showing evidence of leadership for the construction sector as a whole.
RL Davies Construction was accredited ’Built Environment Fairness Inclusion and Respect’ (Be Fair) with a pass rate of 94%.
Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration, said: “I’d like to commend RL Davies on their achievement. Their attitude to fairness, inclusion and respect serves as an example of what the construction industry in Wales can and should deliver.
“These are values which should be at the heart of every organisation and it’s pleasing to see CITB and the industry as a whole, focusing on putting the necessary practices in place to ensure that the best possible working environment is achieved and sustained.”
Prys Jones at RL Davies Construction said, “We’re so proud to have achieved such a high score under the new Be Fair accreditation scheme and thank CITB for its support.
“Ensuring fairness and inclusion across the company is so important in helping us to encourage a positive environment for our staff to develop and grow.
“I hope this accreditation sends a strong message that we are serious about investing in our workforce and helping them to take advantage of the opportunities available to them to forge a successful career in construction.”
Celia Williams, CITB’s North and Mid Wales Area Delivery Manager, said: “The Be Fair accreditation scheme is just one of the ways CITB works with industry to ensure Welsh construction is attracting the skilled tradespeople it needs for continued growth.
“Fairness and inclusion are principles that will help employers to positively position construction as a worthwhile sector to work within.
“RL Davies Construction is leading the way for Welsh companies and we look forward to seeing other companies follow in their footsteps in the near future.”
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.
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.
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We can safely say that Qatar’s ruse to focus our attention on itsfemale genitalia-shaped stadiumhasn’t worked; whilst it might have distracted us for a moment, we quickly returned to the appalling mistreatment of their – and I hesitate to use the word – workforce. The reason for this hesitation is because “slaves” or “deceased” would seem to be more apt.
A recent Guardian report confirmed what we had been frightened of – working conditions, that had been anecdotally fed back to us over the past decade regarding the treatment of workers in the Qatar construction sector, were not only still in existence but, possibly, even exacerbated due to the world cup deadline.
The migrant workforce being treated in a less than humane manner is not unique to Qatar; whilst the Athens Olympics reported an already high death toll of 14, Amnesty International puts the actual figure at somewhere between 40 and 150. Apparently the migrant workforce was not deemed important enough to be counted. Similar stories have emerged from the Beijing Olympics and India’s Commonwealth Games. But it’s not just the death toll that’s the problem; much of Qatar’s labour-force live in appalling conditions, don’t have access to food and water and are working 12 hour-plus days in the burning sun – all this and, reportedly, they are not being paid in order to ensure that they cannot afford to leave.
As a transient industry many of us have worked in Qatar or other countries that treat their workforces in a similarly less than humane manner. Wishing this away, or viewing it as a matter of “culture” is simply not acceptable. If we find ourselves in a position where we are being paid generously to manage works where we know others are being put in danger unnecessarily, or kept against their will in unfit conditions, we must see ourselves as part of the problem – after all where else do we think that generous pay packet comes from?
And the bigger question should be, how do we become part of the solution?