By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East
Despite being an industry worth more than £120bn annually, construction companies just aren’t household names. We really struggle with brand identity, which may be part of the problem with industry perception. If nobody knows who you are or what you do, how are they meant to hear what you have to offer.
Construction is one of the biggest industries in the world, and because of what we do, we have a real potential to make a difference. More than any other industry, our decisions, innovation, ideas and products have a direct impact on the environment, the local community and area.
A great way to create a positive brand image is to simply show that you care. People are becoming more aware of the effect we are having on our environment and the industry plays a big part in that. Construction companies need to show that they are taking the environment into consideration when planning and carrying out their latest projects. It also pays to get involved in community projects and show your dedication to corporate social responsibility.
Ever since the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, the procurement landscape has been changing with public sector bodies now requiring contractors to deliver ‘added value’ as part of contracts. The industry provides huge social value opportunities for local communities, the local economy and the environment. Opportunities could be anything from; using local suppliers or recycled materials to engaging with local schools or community groups or providing training or work experience opportunities for unemployed people and employing apprentices.
Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck recently worked with Sunderland City Council to identify and tackle societal needs, bringing apprentices to full-time employment and providing a benchmark for community engagement under the council’s future procurement. The Northern Spire Bridge project was ranked as exceptional and scored nine out of ten in each of the five areas; care about appearance, respect the community, protect the environment and secure everyone’s safety. It’s great to see projects so close to home getting the praise and recognition they deserve.
Putting people at the heart of projects is happening all across the industry, it’s just not shouted about enough. The industry is fairly private and relatively media shy, which doesn’t help the misconception. If the public knew half of what I do about how important society and the environment is to these projects, I’m sure the perception would soon change.
It’s rare to hear praise from the public about the way construction firms go about their business but that needs to change. It goes both ways; companies should be shouting about the positive work they’re doing, and they should be receiving praise for it, after all the praise would be very well deserved.
For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org