NEWSLETTER • Monday 3rd June 2013

Why was six afraid of seven? Because seven eight nine.

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This month marks the sixth year of Constructing Equality and to celebrate that we have put together a blog providing a bit of history, where we are now and our ambitions for the future. 

The government has a consultation out on Equal Pay Audits which we would advise you to submit a response to - any business strategy determined by the government needs to factor in your capabilities otherwise it becomes an unrealistic tick box scheme that fails to progress the agenda and can sometimes take it backwards. Therefore your honest response on how you feel equal pay audits will affect you can only help strengthen the development process to meet the end goal.

The fluid mentoring project is also relaunching this year.  The understanding of roles within the built environment and its pan-professional outlook are key strengths - this is work that is vital to the progress of underrepresented groups in industry but it needs good mentors and that means you; our money is where our mouth is and I have volunteered as a mentor, what's your excuse?

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 Sean Herbert, Senior Project Manager at LeadBitter Group. 

This month we have been enjoying the tweets of Dr Samantha Collins (@AspireWomen) - Founder and CEO of Aspire Companies and The Aspire Foundation.

Follow us @Constructingeq or @Cchrissi

Blogspot @Constructing Equality Ltd Blogger. 

* NEWS - Jobs for the boys

Constructing Equality interviewed for BBC documentary

On Monday May 13 BBC1 broadcasted a Panorama documentary that was focused around the poor employment prospects faced by young black men. Jobs for the boys?, presented by ex-England footballer Sol Campbell, observed and examined the common problems and issues facing black men aged 16 – 24 in the UK and reflected on the findings that indicated these young men were twice as likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts.

Constructing Equality Ltd and Chrissi McCarthy MCIOB were interviewed for the programme and gave advice on seeking positions in the construction sector from the black minority ethnic (BME) communities. Given that a half hour programme could not encompass all of the advice we gave, we felt a blog with further information would be useful.

In the initial stages of production, Nine Lives Media, the programme-making production company, also sought advice from Constructing Equality Ltd. in sourcing work placements for a number of African-Caribbean young men wishing to work in the construction sector. 

For further information on the issues covered by the Panorama programme, please visit the Constructing Equality Ltd Blog.

- Women are not using their skills to the full

Wales' economy is losing out because women are being undervalued and their skills underused due to gender stereotyping, according to recent research from Chwarae Teg.

Here Donna Griffiths, Skills Strategy Manager at CITB Wales, discusses the importance of creating a more diverse workforce.

There has been some welcome progress in terms of women’s roles with the Welsh workforce according to Chwarae Teg’s A Woman’s Place research. More women are working than ever before - some in Wales’ top jobs and the earnings gap with men is decreasing.

However, despite this progress, the research highlights some worrying trends for the women in Wales, and indeed the Welsh economy as a whole.

Women’s skills and experiences are not being used to their full potential with many women continuing to work in lower skilled and lower paid jobs, despite being more highly qualified and more likely to receive in-work training than men.

Women also continue to be concentrated in a small number of occupations and industries due to power stereotypes about what jobs are suitable for women and men - resulting in women being vastly underrepresented in non-traditional sectors like construction.

According to the report, 80% of women surveyed said being a builder was more suitable for men, while a quarter felt administration work was more suitable for women. This view goes some way to explaining why women only account for 9% of today’s construction industry in Wales, many of whom work in administrative roles.

This article was taken from the Western Mail newspaper and can be read in full by clicking the followng link.

- Consultation on Equal Pay Audits

In June 2012, the Government published its response to the Modern Workplaces: Equal Pay consultation.  This response sets out our commitment to introduce regulations for mandatory equal pay audits in the specific circumstances where an employment tribunal finds a clear breach of equal pay law. 

Since the introduction of equal pay legislation in Britain in 1975, there has been significant progress in achieving equal pay between men and doing the same or similar jobs in the workplace. However, there are still some sectors of the economy that could do more to ensure equal pay becomes a reality for their male and female staff. As part of our drive towards modern workplaces we are committed to taking action to tackle discrimination, correct historic pay inequalities and ensure that men and women throughout Britain receive equal pay.

On 23 May 2013, the Government launched ‘Equal pay audits: a further consultation’.

This consultation explores further the details of equal pay audits and the likely contents of impending legislation which, it is hoped, will come into force in 2014.

The consultation closes on 18 July 2013.

Credit to the Equality and Diversity Forum for this article.

For further information including a link to download this consultation please visit the Government website

- Diversity in Engineering Concordat

A number of Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) and other stakeholders have joined forces to promote diversity among their members and registrants. They signed a Diversity in Engineering concordat at the Royal Academy of Engineering on 7 May to confirm their aims.

The one-page document includes three objectives - all institutions signing will have an action plan in place to:

  • Communicate commitment to equality and inclusion principles.
  • Increase diversity amongst those in professional membership and registration.
  • Monitor and measure progress.

A resource guide has also been developed to support PEIs working towards the concordat and other organisations who wish to increase diversity.

To find out more about the concordat and resource guide, click.

* RESOURCES - FLUID Mentoring Programme

FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme

The FLUID, Diversity Mentoring Programme is an innovative scheme developed by RIBA’s Architects for Change (AfC) forum, and the Construction Industry Council (CIC) to address the retention and development of talented practitioners from diverse backgrounds for management and leadership roles in the built environment.

The project has been developed in response to evidence gathered on diversity by CIC, AfC, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), the Government’s Fair Access to the Professions Report, the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Race Discrimination in the Construction Industry Inquiry Report in addition to other reports.

The programme will recruit from a pan-professional group of participants who, via their applications, demonstrate the drive, ambition and enthusiasm to take part in the scheme.

The Programme

The programme has been developed to address the under representation within management and leadership structures in the built environment sector with particular, but not exclusive, focus on:

  • Women
  • Black and ethnic minorities
  • People with disabilities
  • Those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds

To participate in the programme as a mentor or mentee, or for further information on the various sponsorship packages your organisation can get involved with, please contact Danna Walker (Project Coordinator for Lifelong Learning and Skills) or visit the FLUID website for more information. 

- Women’s Equality Network Wales annual conference

The IET Women’s Network is pleased to announce the start of monthly peer-group sessions, facilitated by Greet Brosens of Sagent Recruitment.  The coaching sessions will run once per month, for six evening sessions, with the first in the series on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013, at the IET in London. All of the sessions are free of charge, and will be held on the first Tuesday of each month.

About the Sessions

The IET would like to invite 12 female IET members to a series of facilitated peer coaching sessions. Each session will be 2 hours, with time for informal networking before and after.


  • Are you struggling to get noticed for your accomplishments?
  • Would you like to raise your profile in your organisation?
  • Do you need to refine your negotiating skills before asking for a promotion, or a new project?
  • Are you unsure how to navigate the politics and power structure of your organisation?
  • Would you benefit from clarifying your career objectives if you are facing major work-life changes?

Through peer coaching, female engineers working in different organisations can share ideas, learn from each other and build a network of peers. In a supportive, inclusive coaching environment, participants learn to ask incisive questions of each other and reflect on their behaviours and challenges in the work place.

Timings and Location

The coaching sessions will run once per month, for six sessions:

When: Tuesday, May 7th 2013 from 18:00 – 21:00, then the first Tuesday of each month

Where: The IET, 2 Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL

Click the following link for more information on this conference. 

- Managing and Supporting Employees Experiencing Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse not only impacts on the well-being of women, but it affects the financial strength and success of the companies for which they work. 

Seventy-five per cent of those experiencing domestic abuse are targeted at work and it is often possible for perpetrators to use workplace resources such as phones, email and other means to threaten, harass or abuse their current or former partner.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is pleased to support the guidance for employers on how to respond if an employee is affected by domestic abuse. The guidance is designed to enable employers to develop a domestic abuse  workplace policy and to provide tips for managers on how to manage and support an employee suffering from domestic abuse.

The guidance makes clear that there are simple steps employers can take to respond to this sensitive issue. To a large degree this is about basic good people management involving managers listening, empathising and showing concern for employees. However, it is important that managers are aware of the warning signs that might suggest a member of staff may be suffering from abuse, as well as the sources of support available to victims.

To read the report in full please visit the Equality Human Rights Commission website

- Stopcocks Women Plumbers

Stopcocks Women Plumbers is a national organisation of highly skilled female plumbers dedicated to excellence; offering quality results, outstanding customer relationships and a trustworthy service since 1990. They are committed to supporting the creation of the next generation of women plumbers.

People who think that women aren't strong enough to be plumbers should think again. "Anyone who can give birth is stronger than they look," says Hattie Hasan, founder and owner of Stopcocks.

Since she became a plumber 20 years ago, Hasan says she has encountered discrimination so ridiculous that it's not even funny: "Someone asked me how I managed to lift a heavy boiler on to a wall six feet up. I replied, 'with my brain'..."

Now she's aiming to change the industry with a new scheme to help women plumbers. West Yorkshire-based Hasan established the delightfully named Stopcocks Women Plumbers in 1990 after finding that full-time employment in such a male-dominated field was surprisingly tricky.

"In those days women in the manual trades were a rare sight," she says. "Women plumbers were even rarer." As the only woman in her own college, it was a milestone for Hasan and the college to have a woman qualify as a plumber with distinctions.

For more information on Stopcocks please visit their website

* Women’s Equality in the UK: A health check

Women’s Equality in the UK: A health check

The recent cuts in public sector funding are cited as a particular concern in a recent report. With some councils in England and Wales making 100% of their staffing cuts from their female workforce, and, across the board, 73% of those jobs that face a pay freeze also being held by women. With so many experienced and capable employees being made available by large construction industry customers, now would be the perfect time to take advantage and get the inside scoop on their internal practices.

The CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) working group published thisreport at the end of May. It was put together by a coalition of 42 women’s and human rights organisations, in preparation for the UN CEDAW committee in July this year.

The overall findings were that in the UK there are key areas where women’s rights were either at a standstill, or were actually in decline. One highlighted as a concern is employment (article 11).

To read the report in full please click the following link

- Fundamental rights for LGBT workers

According to a study compiled by the FRA, UK employers are heading in the right direction in relation to LGBT workers, when compared to much of the EU. The participants were asked a long list of questions relating to all aspects of their lives, and the results were analysed by nation as well as across the continent.  

The section of questions related to employment showed the UK, as a whole, to be better than average. However, there is still a long way to go to be in the top 3 nations. 46% of UK LGBT workers have been on the receiving end of negative comments or conduct in the workplace, 24% report unequal treatment with respect to employment conditions (leave, pensions etc.) as a result of having a same-sex partner, and 13% have been actively discriminated against when looking for work. 

Click to see the LGBT worker's report or the data presented as an interactive map here 

Credit to the Equality and Diversity Forum for highlighting this research to us.

- Uncovering sexuality and gender: an intersectional examination of women’s experience in UK construction

UK employers have been broadening their equality and diversity activities to include the issue of sexual orientation; however, the construction industry has been slow to follow. Equally there is a lack of research on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers in construction.

While women’s sexuality soon becomes a focus of interest when they enter male-dominated work, little research has discussed how sexual minorities—and in particular lesbians—fare in such environments.

This article examines how both gender and sexuality interact to shape women’s working lives within the UK construction sector - drawing on 22 interviews and a focus group with heterosexual women and lesbians in male-dominated occupations in construction.

While women share common experiences of heightened interest and questioning, open lesbians can sometimes minimise the sexualised content of workplace interactions. However the potential for exclusion on the basis of minority sexuality also exists.

Sexual harassment appears less prevalent for women in professional occupations than in the past, while women in the manual trades reported that the problem persists. Lesbians can experience different forms of harassment, however, from heterosexual women, while employers are less developed in their response to homophobic harassment.

For more details and information on how to get hold of a copy of the article please contact Tessa Wright from the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity at Queen Mary, University of London.

- What does the Census tell us about religion in 2011?

Changes in the religious belief demographic of England and Wales could be incredibly useful to companies. While 59% of the population are Christian, 25% were found to have no religious belief and 5% were found to be Muslim.

This leaves nearly a third able to cover shifts when a company would traditionally expect to be closed (Christmas, Easter, Sundays etc.). This flexability will prove to be highly advantageous when deadlines are tight.

Read the full report here.

Below is a short video from the ONS looking at detailed characteristics of religion in England and Wales using data from the 2011 Census. 

* GOOD PRACTICE - New Qualification from Forrest

Greater Manchester Shoots Ahead With New Qualification From Forrest

Social housing regeneration specialist Forrest is stepping up its support for Greater Manchester builders by bringing a new apprenticeship qualification in environmental retrofit works to Salford City College.

The apprenticeship in Insulation and Building Treatments has been introduced to satisfy Forrest’s growing need for a skilled, locally-based supply chain, following increased workload in specialist retrofit on key agreements with City West Housing Trust and Salix Homes High Rise Schemes - both in Salford.

Forrest partnered with the consortia of social housing providers, Procure Plus, to recruit five apprentices in the Salford area. This number includes two ex-offenders employed via the probation service. Both secured their places after successfully completing a pre-employment course.

Salford City College is one of only three providers in the UK to offer the apprenticeship, with Forrest trainees accounting for 70 per cent of those enrolled on the course.

A leading service provider to the social housing sector in the North West, Forrest was recently announced as the regional winner of Large Employer of the Year at the National Training Awards in 2012.

Lee McCarren, Chief Executive at Forrest, said: “Greater Manchester is a key strategic area for our retrofit business. Founding the new qualification with Salford College allows us to boost the skill-set of the local workforce, create significant learning opportunities and ensure that Manchester is at the forefront of advances in the construction industry.”

Read the rest of this article from Forrest's website here

- Thomas Vale assists CITB in raising awareness of industry career opportunities

Over 20 young people from Thomas Vale Construction, part of the Bouygues, Construction Group, have attended CITB Ambassadors training to provide them with skills to deliver careers talks and industry presentations in schools and colleges across the Midlands.

Construction Ambassadors are people with a passion for construction, and who enjoy sharing their enthusiasm with students in schools and colleges.

The workshop covers subjects such as safeguarding issues that come with being a Construction Ambassador, the range of careers in the Construction Industry, verbal communication skills, non-verbal communication skills, how to use visual aids, and structuring and preparing presentations.

Tony Hyde, Thomas Vale’s Managing Director, said: ”It is important that as a large regional contractor we invest time in our young people in order to secure a future for the construction industry across the Midlands and wider regions.”

“Our employees now have the skills to promote our industry. Many young people perceive construction as a predominantly ‘muddy boot’ business, however, it is so much more and offers many exciting career opportunities.  Through the delivery of careers talks we hope to raise the awareness of the many other roles within a construction business”

To find out more about Thomas Vale and their work please visit their website.

* EVENTS - Open Doors Weekend

Open Doors Weekend to be repeated

The construction industry will once again throw open the gates of some of its biggest sites to the curious public in a second Open Doors Weekend.

After last year’s event was deemed a public relations success for the industry, the initiative is being repeated on 27-28 September 2013. (Friday: 9am - 4pm, Saturday: 9am - 1pm).

The UK Contractors Group and the Scottish Contractors Group, in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Building, the Construction Industry Training Board and the Considerate Constructors Scheme, are once again encouraging members to open up their sites. The prime motive is to offer young people an opportunity to look behind the scenes at major construction projects across the country, and perhaps be inspired to a career in the industry.

“The weekend is a fantastic opportunity to not only get a taste of what a career in construction can offer, but the chance to satisfy your curiosity about what goes on behind those hoardings,” said UKCG director Stephen Ratcliffe.

For more details please visit the Open Doors website or email Rachel Done at UKCG.

* WEN Conference.

Women’s Equality Network Wales annual conference

The Women’s Equality Network (WEN) Wales annual conference is on 21 June 2013 in Cardiff.

There is a lack of awareness in the UK of how CEDAW, CSW, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the UN all fit together and how and why it is relevant to Wales and the rest of the UK.

This conference will explore all levels of access for women and suggest a way forward in the UK to make real differences in their communities and in their lives.

There is an evening event with Germaine Greer as guest speaker.

Additional information, and how to book for the event can be found on the WEN Wales website here.

This article comes from the Equality and Diversity Forum and can be found here.

MISC – Article 25 auctions

Art of building auction

Last year the Chartered Institute of Building asked entrants to its Art of Building digital photography competition if they would support Article 25’s work to build two hurricane and earthquake resilient schools in Haiti.

The answer was a resounding yes and thousands of global entries agreed to have their photograph auctioned in a bid to raise money for this important international development project.

The auction, taking place on 12 June at the House of Commons in London, is aimed at those who share our ambition and want to show their support by bidding on these unique pieces of creativity. Photography is about capturing a moment in the past, but with the support of guests we hope to use this imagery to build something for the future. If you would like to join us please register your interest.

You can find out more about the project in Haiti at Alternatively visit the Art of Building website direct.

- Diversity Equals Quiz: This month's winner and questions

For your chance to win a £20 high street gift voucher, go to our easy to use quiz competition page right now to enter.

1. The recent cuts in public sector funding are cited as a particular concern in a recent report. With some councils in England and Wales making 100% of their staffing cuts from their female workforce. Across the board, what percentage of those jobs that face a pay freeze are also being held by women?

  • 78%
  • 73%
  • 75%

2. On 9 April 2013, the Ministry of Justice launched a consultation called ‘Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a more credible and efficient system’.

The consultation includes a proposal to reduce all Very High Cost Cases (VHCC) rates by what percentage?

  • 30%
  • 25%
  • 35%

3. Changes in the religious belief demographic of England and Wales could be incredibly useful to companies. While 59% of the population are Christian, 25% were found to have no religious belief and 5% were found to be Muslim.

In 2001, what percentage of the population in England and Wales were found to have no religious beliefs? 

  • 15%
  • 18%
  • 21%

Thanks to everyone who entered last month; the winner was Sean Herbert, Senior Project Manager at LeadBitter Group.