Construction firm coalition unites to tackle diversity in the industry

Eleven leading organisations in the construction industry, representing over 250,000 workers have united to launch a new coalition that aims to tackle a lack of diversity across the industry.

The Construction Inclusion Coalition (CIC) has been established by CEOs at organisations including Aliaxis, Baxi, Bradfords, Highbourne Group, Ibstock, Knauf, Travis Perkins, Wavin, Wolseley, the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) and the National Merchant Buying Society, to raise sector standards on equity, diversity & inclusion (EDI), with an immediate focus on gender representation in its first year.

The Coalition is being launched alongside new polling which shows that only one third (36%) of British people would feel confident that their female family or friends would be safe and respected if they joined the construction industry. The research of over 2,000 adults also outlines the opportunity for the sector, with nearly half of people (46%) saying they’d be more likely to actively seek out employment opportunities in the construction industry if it demonstrated a stronger commitment to diversity & inclusion.

Recruiter’s Investing in Talent Awards is also highlighting those recruitment companies – not just in construction – who are leading the field in attracting, recruiting and retaining diverse talent.

Construction Inclusion Coalition chairperson and Toolstation managing director Angela Rushforth says: “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.”

“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 EDI. We are calling on businesses across the sector – no matter how big or small – to join our Coalition and commit to taking action in their organisations.”

The construction sector has one of the most rapidly ageing workforces in the UK, with research showing that close to 1m construction workers – around a third of the UK’s total workforce – are set to retire in the next 10 years. Despite this, the industry is currently only made up of 15% women and 6% from ethnic minority backgrounds, and faces challenges attracting and recruiting from a diverse pool of talent.”

The organisations involved are urging businesses across the industry to join the initiative and take the Built on Better Pledge. The pledge covers seven areas members commit to working on.

Organisations will work together to enhance the impact of their individual EDI initiatives, by fostering collaboration and establishing a network to share knowledge and resources across the industry and co-creating solutions that will make a difference. Progress will be tracked annually and shared in a public report.

The Coalition has been endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council, the body that draws together business leaders from across the construction sector and links them with the UK government.

The Coalition was launched in front of hundreds of businesses across the construction sector at the Builders Merchant’s Federation annual conference at the Birmingham NEC on 21 September 2023.

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