Construction industry leaders launch coalition to improve diversity in sector

Leading organisations in the construction industry have launched a coalition to tackle the lack of diversity in the sector.

Eleven companies and trade organisations, representing more than 250,000 workers, launched the Construction Inclusion Coalition on Thursday.

The group, which includes Travis Perkins, The Wolseley Group and Ibstock, aims to tackle sexism across the industry and encourage more diverse recruitment for a rapidly ageing workforce.

Angela Rushforth, chair of the coalition and managing director of Toolstation – which is owned by Travis Perkins – said: “There is no doubt that the future of our industry is at risk if we don’t create an environment where all our colleagues feel safe, empowered and confident.

“I want all young women to see the construction sector as I do – full of opportunity.”

Coinciding with the launch, the group published a poll which suggested that only one third of Britons (36%) would feel confident their female family or friends would be safe and respected in the industry.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults found that nearly half (46%) said they would be more likely to actively seek out employment opportunities in the sector if it demonstrated a stronger commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Ms Rushforth said: “We aren’t attracting and retaining from a diverse pool of talent, because many think the construction sector is not for them.

“These are industry-wide challenges that require industry-wide solutions, which is why the Construction Inclusion Coalition has been set up to improve equity, diversity and inclusion.”

The coalition is urging businesses across the industry to join the initiative and take the Built on Better Pledge, which outlines seven measures to attract a more diverse workforce.

Isabella Walsh, manufacturing management trainee at Ibstock, said: “I totally understand other women’s concerns about working in construction – I had them myself before I joined as a trainee manufacturing manager.

“But my colleagues have been so welcoming, many are now good friends.

“Although things have changed for the better in the last few years, we need businesses in construction to come together to accelerate this change, which is why I think the Construction Inclusion Coalition is so important.”

Mark Reynolds, co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council and chief executive of Mace, said: “It is clear that ensuring a consistent approach to equity, diversity and inclusion will be vital for the future of construction, which is why we’re pleased to support the Construction Inclusion Coalition.

“There is much work to be done, however I am confident that sharing knowledge and raising standards, we can make a meaningful impact across the sector.”

Simon Oakland, Wolseley chief executive, said: “Being a founding member of the Construction Inclusion Coalition is just one aspect of Wolseley’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

“Attracting a more diverse range of people to the construction sector is fundamental to the future of our industry.

“We will only achieve our shared goals around inclusion by working with our customers and partners across the wider construction sector.”