Construction bodies need to collaborate on collection of diversity data

Further evidence of the diversity challenge in the construction industry has been laid bare following a new report from the Construction Industry Council (CIC) which revealed that the number of female professionals in the construction workforce has increased by just 1% since 2009.

The CIC’s latest diversity data benchmarking report, A Blueprint for Change, covers more than 207,000 industry professionals and provides a significant insight into the industry’s progress since the first CIC diversity panel report was published in 2009, ahead of the introduction of the 2010 Equality Act.

The report also revealed that the gender mix in the industry varies with age with a notable increase in women aged 25 and under. Among those who choose to disclose ethnicity, the BAME population is 11.3% of the industry, while less than 5% of the industry declare disability. On a positive note, the consultancy sector is outperforming other areas of industry in attracting women and people from a BAME background. 

The report’s findings, which also include data on industry churn, sexual orientation and religious profile, have been collated from data supplied by a number of CIC member institutions. Sample sizes vary for each category because of the protected characteristics on which data is held, the classifications of some of those protected characteristics, and varying disclosure rates. 

Commenting on the challenges in comparing the data, CIC project manager, Danna Walker, said: “To achieve a truly reflective benchmark for industry we need everyone to agree to collect the same categories of information, and for more institutions to get involved and collaborate. If we can’t measure it we can’t manage it and improve!”

A Blueprint for Change features 11 case studies, from voluntary practitioner-led initiatives such as Women in Planning; InterEngineering LGBT Network and BRE Women’s Network; to institutional best practice models, the RIBA Role Models Project, the ICE Engineering Happiness Tribute and the RICS Inclusive Employer Quality Mark. 

Also featured are company and corporate strategies such as Network Rail’s Everyone, Lendlease’s Create the Best Places, Thames Tideway Tunnel’s Women Returners Programme and the employment ethos of employee-owned architectural practice Make. Informed insights about finding reliable benchmarks and setting achievable diversity targets are provided by the National House-Building Council (NHBC).

The report called on industry to undertake three major actions:

  • Address the needs of a multi-generational workforce, particularly in terms of retention, and focus efforts on attracting new entrants and building on the successes of attracting a more diverse cohort;
  • Provide greater support and celebrate inclusive activities and in particular those led by practitioners who are creating positive impact;
  • Collaboration from the institutions to collect a wider range of data and for greater participation in the project. 

The next CIC Diversity Panel report will be published in 2018.

Download A Blueprint for Change here.

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