Black History Month in construction: Kieron Blake
In our continuing series of Black History Month profiles, we spoke to Kieron Blake, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the leading construction company BAM. Working as part of BAM UK & Ireland’s Diversity & Inclusion, Centre of Expertise team, Keiron has a wealth of knowledge from a strong D&I background in different sectors.
Can you tell us about your background and how you initially got involved in the construction industry?
Kieron: “I am passionate about creating a safe and inclusive working environment, ensuring the protected characteristics are at the forefront of BAM’s D&I approach. In my previous job, I was working in a D&I role at a housing charity. As my contract was coming to an end I saw the D&I role at BAM and went for it. I had never previously worked in the construction industry, so this was a real challenge that I wanted to embrace.”
Can you share some examples of projects or initiatives where you've played a significant role or made a positive impact on your team or company?
Kieron: “In my current role, I look after our Inclusion Networks. Over the last few years, BAM has developed People Networks and Employee Resource Groups focused on Diversity & Inclusion in our previous structure across the BAM Construct, BAM Nuttall and BAM Ireland businesses. These networks have made significant progress in educating and driving change for our colleagues on the topics of gender equality, living with a disability, being a carer, race and ethnicity, LGBTQ+ and allyship.
I am also one of BAM’s trainers who facilitate the D&I Fundamentals course. The course aims to give BAM employees fundamental awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion with a ‘whole force concept’ of inclusion in the workplace.”
In your opinion, what are the advantages of having a diverse workforce in the construction industry?
Kieron: “Diversity is key when it comes to driving business values. At BAM, one of our core values is Inclusion. We believe in creating an environment where everybody feels welcome and valued. Welcoming diversity and inviting different perspectives is how we unleash our productivity and creativity. It is also important to reflect the communities we serve. This is because our differences make us stronger.”
Have you seen any positive changes or improvements in the industry regarding diversity and inclusion during your career?
Kieron: “The construction industry needs to continue to look for opportunities to hire people without specific experience but with abilities and transferable skills. In 2022, for example, BAM engaged with the 10,000 Black Interns foundation, offering six placement opportunities with the company across the North of England. This included four roles in Engineering, one in Quantity Surveying and one in Pre-construction.
How can construction companies and organisations better attract and retain talent from diverse ethnic backgrounds?
Kieron: “There are three standout ways that construction companies and organisations can better attract and retain talent from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
- They should build relationships with recruitment firms that have access to diverse groups and talent pools.
- HR Teams should write inclusive job descriptions and run inclusive interviews with the right tone, asking the correct questions.
- There should be greater inclusivity in HR processes. Inclusion Networks and Employee Resource Groups should work in partnership with different sections of their organisation on relevant policies and procedures. For example, recognising that Inclusion Networks will review HR policies to ensure there is no bias or indirect discrimination.”
Feeling inspired? Share your stories of influential construction professionals today
If you want to highlight someone in construction who has inspired you, or to simply share your experience of diversity and inclusion in the industry, get in touch with Go Construct