From 1,000 builders on sites across London tying up their boots with rainbow laces in support of LGBT equality to an industry-wide advice network – construction is embracing sexual orientation diversity.
To bring about a more inclusive approach employers, who are leading the way, have put in place a range of strategies.
Many construction employers have now adopted a “no bystander” policy to encourage and reward people for actively standing up against those who use offensive language or behave offensively – whether innocently or intentionally.
LGBT staff are encouraged to be role models and given the time to inspire others, preventing feelings of isolation for employees.
Others are encouraging LGBT staff and straight allies to form networks so that they can discuss issues and share experiences in an accepting environment.
And there’s also an industry-wide network of LGBT colleagues open to all LGBT professionals working in the construction and infrastructure sectors.
Committed to the mission of creating a fairer construction industry, Constructing Equality works with the industry to nuture new and existing talent, engage employees and help to build a better, balanced future.
The network provides a welcoming supportive, safe and confidential space to meet, share and discuss views, experiences or concerns. It also aims to raise the profile of LGBT construction professionals and act as an adviser on LGBT users of infrastructure.
Staff are anonymously surveyed, with specific questions on sexual orientation and transgender identity, so that they can share their thoughts on equality, diversity and inclusion. The feedback is used to help make company-wide policies and plans.
Unconscious bias training, coaching and workshops can also be offered. Unconscious bias is when we judge each other unfairly based on ignorance, making mental shortcuts, often resulting in bad, inaccurate or biased choices.
The LGBT job site Diversity Jobs, which lists only jobs from companies with established policies of inclusiveness, has many jobs in the construction sector.
As in any sector people perform better when they can be themselves. Research has shown that making the workplace more inclusive for LGBT employees brings many business benefits including:
Fair employment and working practices are increasingly more important to people in construction than just salaries. A structured approach to develop fairness, inclusion and respect in construction companies has been provided by the CITB’s Be Fair Framework
It is aimed at creating workplaces where employees feel valued and supported. This is done through free resources that look at the Equality Act 2010 and how to implement this effectively in the workplace.