Consultancy and Engineering firms come together to sign People First Charter

Early adopters of the People First Charter from the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) have spoken of the need to come together to tackle skills shortages and improve inclusivity in the built environment sector.

The People First Charter focuses on behaviours and actions to continually improve organisational culture, underpinned by four guiding principles.

These are inclusivity of all, openness and respect, development and growth and recognition. 

The charter has its official launch at UKREiiF on Thursday (May 18) at 1.30pm, at the EDI and Youth Pavilion.

Representatives from Atelier Ten, Ramboll, Curtins and BWB Consulting will discuss why they’ve become early adopters of the charter, which aims to put the wellbeing of people at the heart of organisations involved in tackling some of the biggest challenges the world faces.

Other early adopters include Belfast-based Beattie Flanigan and the Welsh Apprenticeship Alliance.

David Cameron, director of Atelier Ten said the People First Charter was in line with the firm’s ambition to “lead from the front” when it comes to contributing to a culture shift and the development of the skills base in the sector.

“We believe vibrant, energetic, and mind-positive conditions are pre-requisite enablers to innovation, professional improvement and continuous personal development,” he said. 

“By achieving these conditions, personal wellbeing can be met - this is something the sector needs to encourage and subsequently attain. 

“Construction can produce time-pressures, and emotional intelligence can go a long way to alleviating stresses associated with those time pressures. 

“Behind every need, action and delivery there is a human being to be respected and valued.”

Beattie Flanigan, based in Castlereagh, Belfast, has a small but diverse team which adopts a hybrid working policy.

Like Atelier Ten, the firm wants to be at the forefront of making the industry more inclusive, to attract and retain the best talent.

Jason Fisher, managing director of Beattie Flanigan, believes being involved in the People First Charter signals the firm’s intent to continue to offer a diverse and inclusive environment which fosters respect for all.

He said: “The more that small firms like ours can demonstrate the importance of making workplaces in the sector positive places to be, the better for the industry, which will be better able to retain good staff, who feel that they can be themselves, as well as part of the organisation.”

Rob Melling, chief executive of Curtins echoes the need for organisations to work together to create lasting change.

“There is strength in numbers,” he says, encouraging more businesses to get involved and sign up to the People First Charter.

“Collaborating with our peers, including our competitors, to ensure the industry is more appealing to a broader range of people is important.

“We can share what we have learned on our journey and we are also keen to learn from other participants and signatories.

“In some areas, Curtins is ahead of the game, but in other areas, we know there’s work to be done and that’s the benefit of being signed up to a charter.”

Sarah Bannon, a managing consultant at Ramboll, said: “We’re signing up to the People First Charter because it aligns with our approach to put people at the heart of our business. 

“Our people strategy is ‘where people flourish’ and shapes all that we do.” 

The People First Charter will provide member organisations with tailored support to implement an action plan putting people at the heart of their firms, offering guides and frameworks of best practice and templated policies.

The Charter will ensure organisations within the industry operate on the basis of four principles relating to their people and human resources; inclusivity for all, openness and respect, development and growth and recognition.  

Nathan Spencer, Director of UKREiiF, said the launch of the People First Charter at the event in Leeds on May 18th was a critical move and a step in the right direction for the industry.

“Our industry is responsible for a large portion of the UK’s economic stability,” he said. 

“We’re not going to tackle the triple threat of the climate, social and economic challenges we face without including a range of voices as part of the solution. 

“This is a critical move by the ACE, and a step in the right direction for the improvements we need to see – we hope others will follow suit by pushing their own agendas in the right direction.” 

Stephen Marcos Jones, chief executive of ACE, said: “We are determined that the People First Charter will not just be another pledge, which organisations sign and then forget about, but something that will provide a roadmap for all organisations who sign up to create lasting change in both their own organisation and the wider industry.”

ACE is working in partnership with Constructing Rainbows on the People First Charter.

Sharon Slinger, owner and director of Constructing Rainbows, said: "This Charter is focused on continuous improvement and by putting in place action plans with clear impact measures and accountability, companies will be able to focus on their key areas for improvement and track their ongoing progress.”

Get more information or sign up to the People First Charter. 

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