1st July 2013

For a little person with a barbecue, the steaks are always high. 

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Whilst the sun hasn’t shone as much as we would liked, we think this month has been a very good one with the launch of the CITB BE FaIR pilot which gained interest from 148 construction firms and has been able to fund 110. The interest in this equality pilot is good news for the industry; although procurement is of course a driving force many of the companies that we have spoken to are firmly committed to the respect agenda and it’s a real pleasure to be able to showcase the industry I know and love in a positive light.

Also this month sees Wales vote to keep Equality Impact Assessments, CIC launch their 25th birthday celebration and Jane Wernick win the award for First Woman – Built Environment.  I imagine the only thing that could top the month would be winning the £20 gift voucher in the diversity equals quiz after reading our latest blog on why respect isn't peripheral. 

Happy Building


Go to our easy to use quiz competition page right now and answer the three multiple choice questions to be in with a chance of winning a £20 high street voucher.

Thanks to everyone who entered last month; the winner was Paul Handford, at Black and Veatch Group.

This month we encourage you to follow @CICtweet the tweet handle of the Construction Industry Council who will be enjoying their 25th birthday this year. 

Follow us @Constructingeq or @Cchrissi

NEWS - * BE FaIR Attracts Large Response from Industry

* BE FaIR Attracts Large Response from Industry

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148 companies have registered to undertake the pilot of the the CITB BE FaIR (Built Environment Fairness, Inclusion and Respect) accreditation framework developed by CITB (The Construction Industry Training Board and Sector Skills Council for construction) in partnership with Constructing Equality Ltd, (the leading provider of construction-specific equality and diversity training and consultancy).

BE FaIR supports the construction industry in addressing fairness, inclusion and respect. The pilot which runs from now until December 2013 has been able to offer places to 110 Main Contractor and Sub-contractor organisations.

Taking on the CITB BE FaIR framework enables companies to develop and progress as they move through accreditation levels from simply complying with the law at Level 1 right the way through to being a leading light for best practice in the sector at Level 4.

Strands for consultants, clients and house-builders are among the next to be developed.

* 'Government must match rhetoric with action on equal pay'. says BIS

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Yesterday the BIS report looking at Women in the Workplace came out after an extensive period of investigation that included evidence from Architects for Change, WAMT and ourselves, as well as consultation through Mumsnet and Women’s Hour. The conclusion of the report brought up many relevant and important points including flexible working, stereotyping and support for the Public Sector Equality Duties. Whilst we applaud this work and feel it is all vital we can’t help but think it’s missing an important point.

Most of it is designed to: get women into careers, overcome barriers around child-care or support them into senior roles, with very little considering those already in non-stereotypical roles struggling to crack the glass ceiling1or even just find supportive employment. But although some of the conclusions it covers, like positive action, equality impact assessments and pay-transparency could help, the likelihood in the construction sector is that these things will have little impact. Read more in our blog

The Report also calls on the Government to:

• Introduce regulations under section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 to require large private sector employers to undertake equal pay audits.

• Recommend that the EHRC should publish details of those businesses that are non-compliant.

• Set out clear figures, and a timescale, to outline to businesses what will be done if targets for increasing the number of women on boards are not achieved. Read the full report here

* Call for Public Procurement Reform

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The National Federation of Builders said that local authorities were becoming too reliant on credit reference agency checks and using them to blackball builders from tender lists. The report says that nine out of ten public sector contracts are proving no-win areas for 40% of construction SMEs.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “Public sector construction contracts are worth more than £37bn per year – almost 40% of all construction output – so it is vital that SMEs are able to win their fair share of this work. The economic and environmental arguments for procuring with small local businesses are widely accepted, so now it’s a case of finding ways to increase this type of procurement.

“Our report highlights a number of barriers that are preventing construction SMEs from winning public sector contracts, and proposes a range of sensible and achievable recommendations for how these can be overcome. Although some parts of the public sector are good at engaging with construction SMEs, others are not and our report shines a light on best-practice in the hope that it will improve performance right across the public sector.”

Cllr Peter Fleming (chair of the Local Government Association’s Improvement and Innovation Board) responded by saying “With council funding being cut by more than a third by central government, there is simply less work around, particularly in the construction sector. The LGA is therefore working with the FMB to highlight local authorities that have streamlined their procurement practices or introduced support for local suppliers and using these examples to promote best practice across the sector and help level the playing field as much as possible for SMEs.”

Read the full Construction Index article here

* WAMT builds new National Network

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(WAMT) are setting up a national network to support tradeswomen.

Their newsletter says “The Network will have both an online presence (via LinkedIn and Twitter) and offline activities – including local meetings where like-minded tradeswomen can get together to share experiences, swap ideas, or pass on work. It’ll be active, dynamic and practically useful – but we can only make it work with your input.

We’re looking for enthusiastic tradeswomen who can act as the Network’s ‘Ambassadors’ in their local area. You might help us organise a local meeting, promote the Network to tradeswomen you already know, or find new tradeswomen we haven’t met yet. If you’re passionate about supporting tradeswomen, we need you!” For those who are interested there is a meeting In London on Monday 22nd July, at 6pm, where we’ll explain more.

If you'd like to come, please RSVP by email or call 020 7251 9192.

For more information on WAMT click here

* Wales Upholds Equality Impact Assessments

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The Welsh Government has decided not to follow England’s decision to drop ‘Equality Impact Assessments’ or (EIA’s) - (introduced as part of the 2010 Equality Act).

EIA’s involve assessing the likely, or actual, effects of policies on people in respect of disability, gender and racial equality. Whilst we support this move it is also important to understand that while Equality Impact Assessments can be a useful tool for businesses, much like risk assessments they are only as good as the people writing them. Without the correct training and experience they can become bureaucratic.

Last year the Prime Minister announced that Whitehall would no longer be carrying out these tests. Huw Lewis told Assembly Members the Welsh Government remains firmly committed to the Equality Impact Assessments and will not be following the UK Government.

After giving evidence to the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee, Huw Lewis is quoted as saying “Improving fairness and creating a more equal society is vital. While some may deride equality impact assessments, they are an important way of finding out how our policies affect all parts of society.”

“We have no plans to follow Westminster and repeal this duty as it helps us address inequality and disadvantage. They are a sign of progress and now is not the time to take a step back but continue to consider how the policies we make affect all in society. This is an issue of transparency, fairness and decency.”

* Bring Ethics to Work

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Construction company bosses should bring the caring qualities they display in their home life into the workplace, a management expert told delegates at the CIOB’s annual conference in Leeds.

Ann Francke, (chief executive officer of the Chartered Management Institute) also told delegates: “Research shows that people have a more caring ethic at home than they do at work, and don’t always take decisions as a human being. Managers should be taking more rounded decisions. Managers need to bring their caring ethics to work with them. We spend too much time focusing on the negative, we need to learn to praise positives and learn from strengths to offset weaknesses. Happy people are more productive people. Good management builds businesses, improves ROI and attracts and retains talent.”

She said that all companies, including those in the construction sector, should mentor their talented women to help them reach the top. In addition said that they should publish salary details of staff at all levels as a way of measuring, and ensuring, pay equality.

“On average women earn £500,000 less for the same job over their lifetime – that’s on average £10,000 less per year.” She is also quoted as saying that “Diverse workforces have fewer corporate failures.”

Read the full article in Construction Manager


* Women's Business Council report

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Macform Ltd is a South Lanarkshire based, family run building contractor, specialising in one-off new build, extension and refurbishment works in both the private and commercial sector.  Within the last 24 months the business has almost doubled with regards to employees and turnover.  This is mainly as a result of diversification into new markets and successfully undertaking much larger contracts in existing markets; Macform have in fact recently commenced their largest ever contract to date for Masjid-e-Khazra Mosque in Glasgow. 

To achieve such growth during unprecedented market contraction would not have been possible without the commitment of our dedicated and highly skilled employees; two of those much valued employees are James Anderson (Joiner) and David Watson (Joiner’s Mate) who have both been deaf and mute since birth.  Although employing any individual in the Construction industry with this type of disability may seem unusual (or perhaps even unworkable) to some, by ensuring that some simple measures are in place, both employees can work within any team, on any site, in the knowledge that they are completely safe.  Their inability to hear or speak does not in any way affect their ability to perform to a consistently high standard on every contract – sounds like stating the obvious, but many people question an individual’s ability just because they have a disability.  As long as a client and any subcontractors are aware of James and David’s disability, the provision of vibrating pagers is the only additional precaution required to ensure that in the event of a site evacuation there is no delay.

Many of our employees have attended Deaf Awareness training and the majority of them have also acquired signing skills; this ensures communication is not an issue and that the working environment is not in any way intimidating for James or David.  Through support received from Access to Work and Deaf Connections we are able to send James and David on training courses where interpreter support is available and we are also able to utilise this support to ensure that they can fully contribute to staff meetings.
Macform are keen to help dispel the myths that are out there around disability and wanted to use this best practice section to highlight that James and David are as much an integral part of our team as any of our other valued employees; their disability has no impact on their ability to do what every other employee of Macform does.

RESEARCH - *Womens Business Council Report

Women's Business Council report

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A report by the Women’s Business Council, was published this month titled: ‘Maximising women’s contribution to future economic growth’.

The key messages are:

“There is an overwhelming business case, supported by strong evidence, for maximising women’s contribution to the UK’s economic growth agenda”

“We urgently need to broaden girls’ aspirations and career choices by creating a greater partnership between schools, career development professionals, business and parents”

“Business culture needs to embrace the benefits of flexible working and support for working parents”

“There is enormous potential in women’s untapped entrepreneurialism, and a strong case for providing more support for women who want to set up their own businesses”

The report concludes:

“Taken together, these actions represent a road map for clear and achievable gains. Many of them build on current initiatives, or align existing activities. We have been aware throughout of the need to avoid excessive burden on either business or Government – indeed we do not believe that it is necessary for action to be burdensome to be effective. We are at a turning point in women’s economic development: the current economic situation is difficult for us all, but also provides an opportunity for gaining overdue recognition of the vital contribution of women to our country’s national prosperity”.

Read the report here

* Gender Equality Index Published

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June saw the publication of the first Gender Equality Index for the European Union by the European Institute for Gender Equality.

The Gender Equality Index is a unique measurement tool that synthesises the complexity of gender equality as a multi-dimensional concept into a user-friendly and easily interpretable measure.

It is formed by combining gender indicators, according to a conceptual framework, into a single summary measure. It consists of six core domains: work, money, knowledge, time, power and, health  as well as two satellite domains (Intersecting inequalities and violence). The Index provides results at the domain and sub-domain level for the EU overall and for each Member State. It provides a measure of how far (or close) each Member State was from achieving gender equality in 2010.

By using the rather nifty interface you can see where the UK is doing better than its neighbours, and where significant disparity still exists. Each section is rated from 1 (no equality) to 100 (full equality).

Overall the UK has a rating of 60.4 (EU average is 54). In the areas of Work, Money, Health and Time the UK ranks higher than the EU average, and in Knowledge far exceeds the norm (69 rather than 49). However, the category for Power is below average. Click here for more details.

AWARDS and RESOURCES - * First Woman of the Built Environment Award

* First Woman of the Built Environment Award

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Jane Wernick of Wernick Associates has won the First Woman of the Built Environment Award and received it at the First Women Awards 2013 dinner that was held at the London Marriott Hotel on 12 June 2013.

Clare Balding hosted the ceremony. Here is a link to Clare’s article in The Stylist where she talks about the event.

‘Jane Wernick, who won the award for First Woman of the Built Environment, shared her vision. She focuses on how it feels to live and work in a building, how natural light will fall on it, whether it makes people channel their energy positively. One of her projects was the London Eye and as I drove past it the other day, I thought about her words as I watched those curved bubbles turning slowly above the Thames. Wernick did not build it as a trophy or a statement, but as a thing to be loved and enjoyed.’

* Mental Health SOS Guide

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Rethink Mental Illness have produced a free guide (available as either a download or as hard-copy).

'Learn how you can help someone facing a mental health emergency Most of us know basic first aid, so we can help someone who gets ill or has an accident, but a lot of us don’t know how to handle situations involving mental illness'.

This guide is not only useful for individuals, but also as a reference for managers and HR workers.

VACANCIES - * Trainee Surveyor Vaccancy

* Trainee Surveyor – Seddon Construction

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Seddon Construction, UKCG Employer of the Year 2013, are looking for a Trainee Surveyor to join their Bolton office to assist the Surveying team in providing effective costs management and cost control.

The right person will have the ability to work to tight deadlines, have good oral and written communication skills and be proficient in Microsoft Office, Excel and Word.

Daily activities will include: - Assisting the Quantity Surveyor in all aspects of financial reporting to ensure projects are completed within budget and will include the following: -

• Subcontract procurement and accounts

• Tender Analysis

• Site re-measures

• Valuations

• Cost/financial reporting

• Take- offs/measurement

Full details here

* Proud Employers

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This is a very useful website for employers looking to recruit members of the LGBT community.

To advertise positions on it a company has to be a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, which seeks to improve the experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual staff, customers and service users.

There are plenty of jobs available on the site, which is easy to navigate and has careers broken down into a range of categories, including Skilled Trades, Housing and Supply Chain. To view their website click here

MISC - * CIC 25th Birthday photography competition

* CIC 25th Birthday photography competition

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The Construction Industry Council (CIC) is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a competition.

There are three categories for your photographs

The changing face of construction: building the last 25 years

Visualising the future: what will 2050 look like?

Diversity in construction: aspirations of a generation

There are cash prizes for the winner and two runners up, so get snapping! For full details click here

* Diversity Equals Quiz

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Enter this months quiz for a chance to win a £20 John Lewis voucher.

Question1. How many companies have a place on the BE FaIR pilot scheme?

a) 148, b) 110 or c) 2013

Question 2. WAMT are looking for people to represent their network in local areas. They will be known as the Network's...

a) Tzars, b) Consultants or c) Ambassadors

Question 3. What percentage of construction output do public sector contracts represent?

a) 37%, b) 40% or c) 10%