Diversity is a broad and complex topic. But it is one we know very well after 10 years in construction and postgraduate degrees in equality and diversity. During that time, we have seen that some questions crop up time and again, and have given some broad, straightforward answers to them here.
If you cannot find a topic that covers your particular issue, or would like an answer with more depth, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
What do you do?
Our aim is to improve the Built Environment’s approach to the people it employs. We do this in a number of ways, at a number of different levels.
We influence change at strategic level by sitting on boards and responding to Governmental consultations of behalf of organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).
We deliver training that is tailored for the working lives, concerns and passions of your employees, so that they can properly empathise with the equality agenda.
We not only raise awareness of the challenges faced by industry, but also its successes – so that the construction sector can celebrate its progression as it evolves.
We help companies use equality, diversity, fairness inclusion and respect to build their businesses, retain their employees and create a happier, more diverse workforce.
We are a private business, but we do try and commit 10% of our resources to pro bono work, for example visiting schools, giving talks and help SMEs find support.
How will this make a difference?
We believe that construction is often led by clients and Governments who are not always aware of the challenges it faces. Our work educates the people who make and influence the key decisions, recognises the good work the industry’s doing now, and helps individual firms create better work environments.
There is a strong argument for equality and diversity in business. We believe that by treating your employees with fairness, inclusion and respect you can improve your bottom line, save on resources and employ the best people.
Do you expect to change everyone’s opinion?
No. Opinions are deep-rooted, and while we can help people take an objective view on the subject, a half-day training course will not change the socially engrained views of a lifetime.
Instead, what we aim to do is explain what is and is not appropriate in the workplace, and how inappropriate behaviour can have a negative effect on business and what can be done to manage it.
How can this benefit my business?
Most importantly, though, we can help you create an inclusive and diverse workforce that attracts the best people, helps them to develop their expertise and encourages them to stay with you. All of which will have a positive effect on your bottom line.
More specifically, the Be Fair Framework, which we designed and deliver in partnership with CITB, will help you to improve your organisation in line with the resources at your disposal.
The Framework’s wide range of supportive documents give you a roadmap to procedures, processes and ethics that help you meet your legal requirements. It also provides you with an accreditation which you can use to strengthen your PQQs.
Are there equivalent Be Fair Frameworks in other industries?
Yes. However, some are more established than Be Fair, especially those in the public sector. Our concern is that while other industries enjoy the attraction and retention benefits of a diverse workforce, construction continues to fall behind in the race for employer of choice status.
This is one of the reasons why the sector skills council – CITB – commissioned us to design the Be Fair framework. It is there to help the industry as a whole. And we firmly believe that if everyone gets behind the initiative, construction will become a vocation that fuels the ambition of everyone, from every section of society.
What happens if I do not provide equality & diversity training?
You might find there is a negative reaction across your organisation. More and more public sector clients are asking for management staff to be trained in equality, and the commercial sector is catching up quickly.
We know training can sometimes be considered a luxury, especially in the current market. However, we are working with CITB and the UKCG to develop toolbox talks around equality and diversity that will be available to everyone, for free.
We are also developing online equality training packages to keep time and financial costs down.
Does a small family business need equality & diversity training?
We think so. Equality can affect us no matter how small the business, but we understand that what works for large organisations will not work for everyone. It is not just a question of resources; different approaches are required.
This is why we have launched a ‘Micro’ Be Fair Framework. It helps small businesses to maximise the equality and diversity’s benefits, without asking them to invest too much time or money. Initial feedback from participants has been very positive, with many highlighting that they would not otherwise have access to such expert policy, process and feedback support.
What is meant by an equality & diversity issue?
Usually this would mean that you have a situation in your organisation where someone has treated someone else less favourability because of something that is unrelated to their ability to carry out their work.
Do I have to pay for equality & diversity training reviews every year?
It is not essential. However, each client requires a different approach. You may wish to invest over consecutive years if you grow substantially, for example, procure another organisation, or perhaps have a particular issue you want to address.
What is the difference between positive discrimination and positive action?
The most important difference is that positive action is legal and positive discrimination (except in very rare cases) is not.
You cannot legally employ one person instead of another because of a protected characteristic (race, sex, disability, religion, belief, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, age, pregnancy and maternity).
But you can enact positive action when a group is underrepresented within your workforce or a set of roles. For example, if you had no female Site Managers but lots of women in administration roles that were interested in working on site, you could run a training day exclusively for them to discover if they have the right kind of skills. Think of it as bridging a gap, without crossing the line.
Am I required to have toilet & changing facilities for both sexes on all sites?
No. Legally, you only need to provide a lockable door or, if you are working on a temporary site, access to toilet facilities. Of course, separate toilet facilities are always welcomed.
Where can I get help from to support in employing a new worker with hearing disabilities?
The Government’s access to work site has a wealth of information and practical advice for people living with disabilities.