Changing the image of construction

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

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. Because of this, it means that we’re susceptible to criticism, most of which I don’t think is always fair.

We’ve struggled with the tarnished image of the industry for some time now. There are many preconceptions by the general public and a lot of it comes from a poor example of how a few firms conduct themselves, but it’s not a true representation of the industry as a whole. Because of this, those companies that conduct proper, conscientious work are the ones working so hard to change perceptions and present an accurate reflection of the industry.

Over 20 years ago, the Considerate Constructors Scheme was launched as an initiative by the industry, for the industry. It was originally started to improve the image of construction and the scheme now shows the very best of the construction – those who are considerate towards customers, their workforce and the environment. The Scheme works through registration of construction sites, companies, suppliers and professional service organisations. They agree to abide by the Code of Considerate Practice and are monitored by industry professionals on their performance. Every year, the Scheme registers around 8,000 sites and makes over 18,000 visits to sites and suppliers.

A great way to create a positive brand image is to simply show that you care. As an industry we’re more aware of the effect we’re having on the environment and we are changing the way we plan and carry out projects. 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. Construction companies need to show that they are considering the environment when planning and carrying out projects. It also pays to get involved in community projects and show your dedication to corporate social responsibility.

The Code of Considerate Practice commits those sites, companies and suppliers registered with the Scheme to care about appearance, respect the community, protect the environment, secure everyone’s safety and value their workforce. These not only benefit the workforce, but also the local community and the environments in which they operate. It also proves to the public that you take Corporate Social Responsibility seriously, strengthening the value of your brand and your organisation’s standing – and it helps with the image and reputation of the industry which is what we’ve been trying to do all along.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact Chief Executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.