What is the Fairness, Inclusion & Respect Programme?
The Fairness, Inclusion & Respect (FIR) Programme is an industry-wide initiative that aims to change the culture of construction and make workplaces better for everyone.
The programme provides free, industry-endorsed training, resources and guidance which support businesses to become more innovative and welcoming by addressing workplace cultural challenges. This, in turn, helps attract and retain a wider, more diverse range of workers to the industry.
Anyone can access the programme’s free online resources – found in the FIR toolkit – and attend free training workshops. The construction industry is increasingly becoming more diverse, welcoming and inclusive – dispelling the old myths and stereotypes it had. The FIR Programme plays a key role in the positive cultural shifts of the industry.
The context – why the FIR Programme is important
Despite the industry making great progress in recent years when it comes to diversity, there is still more to be done. Women make up 14% of the current workforce, and those from an ethnic minority background just 6%. The majority of those in construction are over 40, while those under 25 are a minority – however, by 2030, the number of young adults entering the overall workforce is expected to increase by 25%. So, there is a great opportunity here for the industry.
This is where initiatives like the FIR Programme are so vital – to encourage more young people, women and ethnic minorities to the industry, they need to view construction as welcoming, respectful, fair and inclusive.
The FIR Programme not only increases awareness of the importance of these issues, but leads to improvements in behaviours in companies. This helps create a more welcoming environment for new entrants to the industry.
A recent review of the programme found that:
- 96% of participants rated the workshops and materials as excellent or good
- 92% rated the toolbox talks as excellent or good
- 89% feel empowered to deal with FIR issues more effectively
- 82% feel they now have the confidence to challenge poor behaviours.
The FIR toolkit is the home of the programme’s free resources, featuring e-learning modules, video toolbox talks, webinars, training courses and much more.
The toolkit has been developed by the construction industry for the construction industry. Many of the resources are designed to be delivered internally by managers or trainers to their employees – however, if you’re interested in an introduction to what the programme can offer, you can check out the video toolbox talks, which include:
- Tips for maintaining good mental health
- What responsibility employers have to employees
- How to treat people on site with respect
- The meaning of fairness and respect.
If you would like your company to better embed the principles and business benefits of a fairer, more inclusive and respectful workplace, why not encourage your manager to make use of the FIR toolkit? There’s interactive online, trainer-led workshop sessions which run throughout the year, bringing the FIR Programme to your desktop.
There’s also a selection of e-learning resources which can be accessed and delivered at any time, including the benefits of flexible working, understanding invisible disabilities, managing challenging conversations and more.
For real life examples of companies implementing Fairness, Inclusion & Respect best practice, check out the programme’s case studies.
Supply Chain Sustainability School
The FIR Programme is a collaborative effort from companies and organisations across the construction industry. The programme is endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), led by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and funded by CITB, as well as construction companies including Balfour Beatty, Osborne, Skanska and others.
The programme is delivered by the Supply Chain Sustainability School, a collaboration of over 125 industry partners, comprising construction companies, sector bodies, organisations and charities. The School provides free training and resources to help construction companies and suppliers become more sustainable.
The built environment contributes approximately 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint – around half of which stems from energy used in buildings and infrastructure (e.g. roads and railways). Construction’s carbon footprint has continually decreased since 1990, but there is more to be done. Part of the School’s key goal is to introduce more environmentally friendly measures into the supply chains of construction projects – and its training helps firms achieve this.
The issues of sustainability and diversity and inclusivity go hand in hand; construction is at the forefront of building a more sustainable world and achieving net zero, but to do this, the industry needs to ensure it is welcoming enough to attract the workers it requires.
Mental health and wellbeing
Mental health is as important as physical health. And stress in the workplace shouldn’t be the norm. Construction has taken great strides in recent years in combatting mental health issues, with charities such as The Lighthouse Club and Mates in Mind providing support specifically for those in the industry. CITB has also recently released research which shines a light on mental health in construction and how to improve wellbeing for workers.
The FIR Programme provides helpful resources surrounding mental health and wellbeing, providing tips for maintaining good mental health, how to spot the signs of mental ill-health and much more. We all experience mental health – and it’s important this is acknowledged in the workplace so employers can better respond to it. FIR Programme’s mental health and wellbeing resources include:
Do you work in the construction and built environment sector and want to take action to make your workplace better for everyone? If so, you could make an ideal FIR Ambassador.
FIR Ambassadors work to promote a culture of fairness, inclusion and respect within their workplace. They work closely within their organisation to promote the business benefits of FIR and challenge non-inclusive procedures and behaviours to positively impact workplace culture.
Anyone working in the industry in any role can become a FIR Ambassador; you can be employed at any level within your organisation. You should have the explicit support of more senior management to become an Ambassador, as well as being able to maintain positive relationships based on respect.
Benefits of becoming a FIR Ambassador
FIR Ambassadors not only help improve the culture of their own workplace, but for the construction industry as a whole. The advantages don’t end there, though – there are many personal and professional benefits to joining the FIR Ambassador network, including:
- Develop valuable knowledge through access to a range of FIR learning resources which will help expand your overall skillset
- Gain a sense of achievement from playing your role to create a more open, inclusive and respectful work environment
- Join a bustling FIR Ambassador network, sharing and collaborating on knowledge and best practice
- Raise your own profile at work and within the industry, boosting your CV with a valued extracurricular activity.
For more information on diversity in construction, check out:
- How you can promote diversity
- Embracing diversity and culture in construction
- Diversity in construction
- How culture has changed in construction
To find out how construction is becoming more inclusive and welcoming, check out:
- Construction and disability
- Women in construction
- Construction and ethnicity
- LGBTQ+ in construction.
Did you know that as well as being a FIR Ambassador, you can become a Go Construct STEM Ambassador to help promote the industry?