UK construction associations unite to diversify sector

By Lewis Tyler06 May 2022

An agreement between key UK associations will see them collaborate on better understanding industry diversity An agreement between key UK associations will see them collaborate on better understanding industry diversity (Photo: Pexels)

Six of the UK’s leading construction industry associations have pledged to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive built environment sector, with the signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Landscape Institute (LI), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) all signed the document, with aim of making the country’s construction sector “more representative of the society it serves”.

Richard Collins, Interim CEO at the RICS, said, “Improving diversity, equity and inclusion is a top priority for the RICS and we recognise that true progress can only be made through effective collaboration.

“This MOU demonstrates our collective commitment to driving positive changes for the built environment.”

To achieve this, the organisations - which collectively represent around 350,000 members - have agreed to work together to understand how people transition from education into employment within the industry.

This will seem them collaborate on standardising the way they collect member data, so that a clearer picture of employment in the built environment sector can be created. 

According to the MoU, this will enable the associations to take “targeted action” to improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

As well as focusing on data collection and EDI competencies, the institutes will share key data with the aim of enhancing their collective understanding of retention rates and awarding gaps on accredited courses, and the disparity between the diversity of students that start on institute accredited courses.

According to the organisations, understanding these areas will enable them to develop both understanding and guidance that can be used by the sector to improve “standards of EDI knowledge, behaviours and practice”, in order to create a “culture that delivers the best outcomes for the diverse societies in which and for whom our collective memberships work.”

Stats: Diversity in the construction workforce

According to the CIOB’s 2021 Special Report on Diversity and Inclusion in Construction, only 12% of the country’s built environment workforce are women and less than 3% of the sector’s workforce are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

While white, heterosexual males account for most of the workforce, just 5-7% of people in the UK construction industry are Black, Asian or from other underrepresented racialised groups.

Over the next three months the associations will create a detailed plan (due to be published later this year) that will establish how the objectives outlined in the agreement will be achieved and ultimately, how they will improve equality diversity and inclusion in the built environment.

Alan Vallance, RIBA CEO, said, “I am really pleased that we are committing to working collaboratively with colleagues across the sector to ensure we deliver on our EDI commitments.

“By combining our efforts to address the systemic barriers that perpetuate discrimination and underrepresentation, we can drive forward change at a faster and more effective rate.”

Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI added, “The RTPI places Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity at the heart of the institute, for our members, the profession, the community and the built environment sector.

“However, we know that we cannot change the sector by working alone. That’s why it is not only a great pleasure to sign this ground-breaking MoU with our friends, but an honour.

“Only by working together can we create a sector as diverse as the communities we work for, and deliver a fair and inclusive culture that works for our members and diverse society.”

The MoU will last until 2025, and all activities carried out during this time will be offered to members of each organisation for free.

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