Building Equality in the Construction Industry

June is LGBT Pride Month! – The construction industry has come a long way over the past decade to become more inclusive of women and minority groups within an otherwise male dominated industry. Despite The Equality Act that was passed in 2010 that legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society, the LGBTQ community have still had to face several obstacles. While many sectors have put measures in place to ensure inclusivity and diversity within the workplace, the construction industry still has some catching up to do.

According to Stonewall’s annual top 100 inclusive employers list, there has not been an construction industry businesses featured on this list for over 11 years. The list has been published annually since 2005, in accordance to which organisations have carried out great works to help achieve acceptance and inclusivity of the LGBTQ community within their businesses.  Further research has shown that two in five LGBTQ employees within the construction industry do not feel comfortable being open about who they are. In an industry that features a strong “macho culture” homophobic and transphobic comments remain problematic on construction sites and throughout the industry. This Pride month Plant Planet Careers take a look at how the construction industry is doing its part in “Building Equality”.

Having a more inclusive workplace also comes with its benefits. These include:

  • Improving job satisfaction and productivity – It’s common sense that people perform better when they can be themselves!
  • A wider recruitment pool – Helping to attract people from across the talent pool and ensuring that nobody is discouraged from joining the workforce.
  • Improved brand awareness – The business’ reputation with minority groups as well as the majority; heterosexual audiences also scrutinise businesses for their human rights and equality and diversity record.

Some demonstrations of support of Pride month have been seen from construction and plant hire companies within the construction industry who have exhibited their support for the LGBTQ+ community by changing their representing logos to feature the signature rainbow flag pattern. However, some suggest the industry could do more to encourage more of the LGBT+ community in order to transform the culture of the industry.

The Building Equality movement is an alliance of construction organisations and professionals working together to drive LGBT+ inclusion within the construction sector. Over the past five years the movement has grown substantially by expanding their reach from London into other areas of the UK, such as Leeds and Manchester. In 2019 the Manchester Pride parade featured over 20 construction organisations promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the construction industry.

Heavy Machinery brands have also been seen to demonstrate their support for pride over the years through their plant machinery. In 2019 the Manchester Pride Parade included a special feature from a rainbow JCB machine alongside 150 construction professionals. In 2020 Ground Engineering & Soil Stabilisation contractor, Barton unveiled their Caterpillar D6 Dozer wrapped in the signature rainbow PRIDE flag!

As the UK embraces the LGBTQ community more and more, measures have been put in place to try and ensure inclusion. The CITB Be FaIR Framework is a guide tailored to construction companies. While there are other equality and diversity training services available, the CITB Be FaIR Framework is specific to the construction workplace.

LGBT workers exist across all industries and construction is no different. To be anywhere near reaching the targets set by Construction 2025, the industry need to be encouraging more LGBTQ community members into the industry, not only does a more inclusive workforce have its benefits but could also provide a solution for the skills gap currently affecting the industry by attracting a wider variety of people from across the talent pool.  Show your support this Pride month by joining the #BuildingEquality hashtag!

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