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.

Further details can be found on the National Centre for Diversity website

Why the Prompt Payment Code matters to people in the construction industry.

I have worked for a main contractor, sub-contractor and, for my sins, I married a PQS – so I’d like to think I have a bit of an idea around how late payments work – though, as always, I’m happy to be corrected.
In the worst case scenario main contractors retain money from sub-contractors so that they can invest/buy land.
“Evil main contractors!” I hear you say? Well no, not always. Whilst some companies do this as a business model, many are being forced back down a route that was abandoned in the early 2000’s due to client’s ever increasing pressure to reduce costs. This means profit margins are slashed and the retention of payment is the only way to make money.
Evil clients then? Well, again, not always; when everyone is submitting similar prices it can be hard to know that something should cost more. Also, the news is rife with stories about construction bid-rigging and cover-pricing. Although in industry we might know there is a big difference between these terms and clients have asked for a cover price on more than one occasion, localised clients don’t. This means there is an air of distrust and reasonable prices can be seen as a bit of a con.
Why does late payment matter to the people?
Quite a few reasons:
  • Sub-contractors have to wait up to three months to get paid, which can mean making staff redundant, but more likely moving to a self-employed model of work. Whilst there are up-sides to this for those who enjoy true self-employment, there is a dirty dark side. Harvey [1] found a large number of people working in construction were falsely self-employed, meaning they had no choice over the hours they worked (the same as a regular employee), but did not receive employee benefits such as holiday pay, sick pay and employment rights. In the very worst cases, the situation was used to pay people less than minimum wage.  This isn’t to say that this happens to everyone everywhere, but it does happen and late payments encourage that. As a site manager once said to me, “we once employed a team to supply and pour concrete for less than we could buy it with our own substantial discount – we really should have looked into that.”
  • As a site manager bad subbies would make my life very difficult, and it’s pretty likely that a underpaid, unfairly treated person is not going to be a pleasure to work with – the worse we treat people the worse they behave. Don’t believe me? Look at your own reactions – very few people can smile in the face of constant disadvantage; obviously I’m not including Preston fans. This means our lives are made increasingly difficult, subcontractors are harder to work with and yet we have the same, if not shorter, time frames to do it all in. Not exactly great for our blood pressure.
  • If, as often happens, a sub-contractor goes under due to late payments, someone is needed to come in last minute which is never easy to find, creating additional headaches and cost. Quite often, more cost than would have been saved if the subbie had been paid on time in the first place.
  • The image of the industry also slips again; stories of late payment, subbies going under and false self-employment create a bleak picture of the industry and of those who work in it, which ultimately feeds the client view.
Before anyone says this blog adds to the problem, I would disagree. The problem is that acceptance of late payment practices treats people as if they don’t have rights or an expectation of fairness. As a sector we must work together to eradicate these issues by first acknowledging they exist, then finding a way to overcome them. Whilst we are fragmented and apart, Clients cannot always see when a rogue contractor is bringing the sector down. By signing and adhering to a code of practice we can take the steps in the right direction.  And though no one is saying this will make the world better overnight, at least it won’t be pushing it further backward.
Happy Building, Chrissi.

For all things construction and equality; get yourself over to Constructing Equality Ltd.

1 comment:

  1. The situation will not get better without some sort of effective intervention. This need not be massively costly or take an age to bring about.

    On behalf of StreetwiseSubbie and the Nationwide Alliance of Specialist Contractors, I have produced a Fair Treatment Charter. This is a simple set of protocols, which if adopted throughout the industry would achieve a much fairer, more open and honest approach to payment throughout the entire supply chain.

    It would be a simple matter to make the Fair Treatment Charter applicable to the contractual relationship between every party in publicly funded contracts, and to amend the Construction Act to make them applicable to every “Construction Contract”.

    The Fair Treatment Charter is available to download on our web site at; http://www.streetwisesubbie.com/fair-treatment-charter

    Reply

What do women have to gain by going into the construction industry instead of another industry that is already accommodating to her needs?

Quite a lot actually,

Firstly the pay is higher. As we mentioned before, the jobs dominated by women are the lowest paid but those in more male-dominated sectors come with a higher financial reward. It‘s not without risk, as we mentioned in one of our earlier posts, but from a salary perspective there is a lot to be gained.

Second, is the opportunity to progress; there are still options to climb through the ranks with day-release, apprenticeship and academic routes available. Whilst the recession is off-putting to those entering university now, they should be coming out of university just as the industry recovers, which means a good chance that they will secure a role.

Individuality; being able to do something you enjoy is an important factor when making decisions for your life. I tried other gender-traditional roles before construction but none of them gave me the sense of fulfillment that this industry has. Being able to work in a role that you enjoy is a priceless and rewarding experience and should not be undervalued. That being said make sure you are prepared for what you might encounter, plan your career and make sure your employers know about it and are on board to help you achieve your ambitions.

I strongly believe that employers do want to help foster and grow their female talent; they are just not always sure of the right way to go about it. So, ask questions, seek advice, form networks, plan your career, seek out appropriate training and form networks (not a typo, it really is that important).

Want to read more on the subject women in construction? The following previous Constructing Equality Ltd. blogs are also very interesting and topical: