Pride supporters with flags and banners

When we are talking about the visibility of people from the LGBTQ+ community in STEM construction, what do we mean?

The STEM subjects are the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics, and people who study these subjects at a high level (university or postgraduate) can go on to work in areas like civil engineering, mechanical engineering, geotechnical engineering, architecture or environmental engineering. They have the ‘big ideas’ that shape the development of construction and can have the most beneficial impact on society.

However, LGBTQ+ STEM professionals sometimes struggle to be recognised in the industry. They may not be confident in their identity or get to where they should be in their careers. The organisation STEM Women estimated that people from the LGBTQ+ community are 20% less represented in STEM workplaces than they should be, given their social representation. LGBTQ+ people are also more likely to suffer discrimination than other minority groups.

What can be done to increase diversity and inclusion, and the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community, within STEM, and therefore in construction?


STEM Inclusion: Enhancing Creativity

Increasing the diversity in STEM organisations means recruiting more people from the LGBTQ+ community. It is often thought that LGBTQ+ people are more creative on average than people who do not identify as LGBTQ+. Why that should be so has never been completely proven, but creativity and creative thinking is a skill that STEM professionals need in abundance.

For civil engineers it is possibly one of the leading requirements, because problem solving and creative thinking is at the heart of civil engineering. Without it there would have been no suspension bridges, no domed cathedrals, no undersea tunnels, no skyscrapers or hydro-electric dams. Engineers of all descriptions come up with answers to challenges that had never previously been resolved or answers to questions that had never before been asked.

That is why having more diversity in your business could mean being able to draw on a greater fund of creative people.


Increased Innovation, Problem-Solving, and Diverse Thinking

Organisations that are more inclusive generally see the benefits in terms of innovation and problem-solving. In many ways this is linked to what is happening more widely in society. If there is discrimination or a lack of tolerance towards people who are different, these people’s skills are likely to go unappreciated or undeveloped. They will not be able to achieve their potential because society will not accept them, and not allow them to do the jobs they are capable of doing.

But where people from different backgrounds and communities are protected and accepted, such as the LGBTQ+ community, they will be able to contribute to the skills base, and the places where they work will also benefit from having a more diverse range of voices and experiences in their organisation. A more diverse range of staff in an organisation like a construction company will be able to more accurately reflect the society around it, as well as understand and respond to its problems.


Ensuring Talent Recruitment and Retention with STEM Diversity

What are some of the ways that STEM organisations can be more successful in recruiting and retaining LGBTQ+ employees?

  • Removing bias from the interview process

Companies can remove any perceived or unconscious bias from the application process by featuring more diverse representations of people in recruitment advertising, and make sure that interview panels reflect the diversity of their organisation.

  • Offer LGBTQ+-centred benefits

The more an organisation can show that it is LGBTQ+-friendly in its policies and benefits, the greater chance it has of attracting high quality diverse applicants. This includes benefits such as time-off for gender transitioning, transgender health care, and no bystander policies.

  • More diverse forms of outreach

Recruitment sometimes starts at the careers fair or school visit. Capture the attention or interest of the budding young engineer by being more inclusive in the staff who are chosen to represent the company and the careers you are promoting. Ensure that people from every background can see themselves reflected.


Improved Collaboration within the Workplace

Having a workforce that is more representative of society as a whole makes for a more collaborative environment. If people feel accepted, where work is a place they can be themselves without fear of discrimination, they are more likely to share their ideas freely. Project outcomes are likely to be better and productivity higher than organisations where diversity and inclusion is less valued.

LGBTQ+ networks can play an important role here, encouraging and nurturing people’s self-confidence,  but ultimately change needs to occur outside of these ‘safe spaces’ – the LGBTQ+ rights group Stonewall say that 35% of LGBTQ+ employees still hide their gender identity or sexual orientation at work. Companies that are truly innovative in their diversity and inclusion initiatives will reap the benefits with improved business performance and reduced staff turnover.


STEM Pride: Advocating for the Future

If you are studying STEM subjects or working in STEM-based careers, you have the opportunity to be an advocate for LGBTQ+ issues and rights. You could become an LGBTQ+ ally, championing diversity and inclusion within construction, or if you are working in construction perhaps even become a Go Construct STEM Ambassador.

Go Construct STEM Ambassadors act as the face of the construction industry for young people, promoting STEM careers within construction. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, sharing your experience as a STEM Ambassador would be a powerful sign of the increasing diversity in STEM careers and how construction has fully embraced inclusion.

Diversity in STEM, what is it & why does it matter? Discover more with Go Construct

STEM careers are open to all, whatever your background, gender or sexual identity. Find out more about STEM, diversity and construction at Go Construct: