LGBT in sight, on site: coming out in construction
During LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual trans) History Month, we find out what it’s really like to come out in the construction industry. Pioneer and activist, Christina Riley, Senior Planner at Kier Group, talks to us about her experiences.
The theme of this year’s LGBT History Month is peace, activism and reconciliation, which will be explored through our 3-part mini-series.
With more than 25 years working in construction, Christina Riley’s personal journey has touched all three.
There are safe spaces for people who need to talk. We’re moving in the right direction.
Since coming out in 2014, Christina has thrown herself into campaigning for LGBT equality and inclusion in the workplace, with Kier’s support.
“I never expected to be a role model, but I’ve done more than 50 talks to different companies about LGBT issues,” she says.
“I’m the vice-chair of the LGBT+ and Allies Committee at Kier and I’m on the executive committee of Building Equality, an alliance of company LGBT networks which is driving inclusion in construction.”
“We founded it in 2015 with 4 companies and now we have grown to 25 – showing that construction is changing. It’s great to see construction employees marching with Kier and Building Equality at Pride events across the country.”
Christina’s activism hasn’t gone unrecognised. She was listed number 7 in the Financial Times Outstanding 50 LGBT+ Future Leaders awards 2018, the only person awarded from the construction sector; and she won the Corporate Rising Star Award at the British LGBT Awards in 2017.
“People in construction are thinking about LGBT issues now. There are networks and support groups, and safe places for people who need to talk. We’re moving in the right direction.”
Look out for LGBT insight, onsite: Reconciliation, the next part in our LGBT mini-series.
Christina says it’s easier than ever to get support in the sector.
“Come along to LGBT+ network events, because there’s plenty going on and they’re safe spaces for LGBT people in our industry. Certain trades and professions have their own groups too, like InterEngineering for engineers. There’s lots of advice out there and lots of people who can provide support.”