With an estimated 3.1 million workers, the construction industry continues to dominate the UK economy and with ever-increasing labour shortages; creating an inclusive and accessible environment for all types of talent is more important than ever.
As a traditionally ‘masculine’ sector, it is impressive to see that the number of LGBT+ people working within the sector is rising daily and evidences the success of the EDI (equitable, diverse and inclusive) initiatives that are being implemented by progressive businesses.
With over 50,000 LGBT+ people now estimated to be working within the sector (Construction News), it is discouraging however to understand that a startling two in five of these have admitting to feeling “uncomfortable when it comes to being open about their sexuality at work” (Mott Mac).
Whilst stereotypes remain problematic on construction sites and throughout the industry, homophobia continues to be a re-occurring issue for workers within the sector. With “28% of LGBT+ construction workers admitting to have had an offensive or inappropriate comment made about their gender or sexuality at work” (Construction News), it’s clear that this is an issue that must be tackled head on.
As attitudes and processes continue to evolve, UK construction businesses must continue their journey towards creating a more open and diverse workplace. Whether it’s through the creation of a culture of open communication, impressive support networks or the development of a blind recruitment process; taking important steps to build a future based on diverse and happy workforces is essential.
3 ways to boost LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace
Review your policies
As with any business change, it is important that employment policies are examined and updated in line with any LGBT+ initiatives launched. With this in mind, policies must be acknowledged, and should include non-discriminative terms such as “sexual orientation”, “gender identity” and “gender expression”.
By reinforcing such non-discriminative policies across your business you can encourage better behaviours in your people, and demonstrate both internally and externally your commitment towards LGBT+ employee care and tackling discrimination in the workplace.
Not only this, but using inclusive terms can help LGBT+ people to feel more comfortable to come forward and share their concerns about LGBT+ in the workplace. This can result in people feeling less isolated within work and can have a positive effect on an individual’s physical and mental health.
“To move ahead, leaderships on these issues need to start from top down. Every organization faces limited capacity and resources, which is why LGBT policies need to be put in place systemically to ensure equality” (UCLA).
Read more here.
Set up an LGBT+ network
Creating an LGBT+ network can be a great way to demonstrate your dedication towards supporting your employees. Employees are provided with a safe and secure environment where they are able to discuss private matters at work and can benefit from the additional support of other individuals involved in the group.
By having a dedicated LGBT+ ally or champion, you can provide a trusted and secure platform for team members to confidently open up conversations around EDI. An LGBT+ ally can speak up for those individuals struggling with EDI barriers within your business and can highlight areas of weakness for you to improve on.
Invest in training
Educating employees on the challenges surrounding LGBT+ in the construction industry can be an effective way to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma within the workplace.
Choosing to invest in LGBT+ training can be a useful way to help employees digest EDI policies as well as providing an effective platform to deliver key messages and values that are important to your business. Not only this, but by running dedicated LGBT+ training, employees are provided with the skills required to effectively deal with both their own and others LGBT+ queries, experiences and/or concerns.
Utilising experienced training provider’s such as Diversity in recruitment can help to ensure that your business’ processes are fully inclusive. Find out more about their specialised work with recruitment businesses here.
Although we have seen a vast amount of progress in the recognition of EDI in business in recent years, the construction sector still has a long way to go in creating a fully inclusive environment for workers. Employers must continue to open up the conversation around LGBT+ and prioritise investment into employee wellbeing over the months and years ahead.
Organisations who embrace inclusive working environments experience better retention and happier workforces (Jo Major, Diversity in Recruitment). By enforcing strict policies and strong leadership styles, employers can help to encourage a shift in mindset amongst individuals (Construction News), whilst creating an open and inclusive environment for all.
Our commitment to LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace
When it comes to our partners - we actively encourage every business that we collaborate with to take a fair and inclusive approach within their processes.
We’re continually reviewing our policies to discover ways in which we can improve and better our EDI practices within the business. We repeatedly review our policies and reflect on our processes - ensuring that they meet our business’ values, and that they encourage the correct actions and behaviour in our people.
Over the coming months and years, we intend to continue to work on implementing new measures into our business that will allow our employees to feel fully supported within the workplace.