Driving change for inclusivity in the industry

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

At the weekend thousands of people marched through Newcastle to celebrate inclusivity and diversity. Constructing Excellence in the North East joined the parade to demonstrate support for the construction industry’s LGBT+ workforce, under the banner of #BuildingEquality, the national LGBT+ Construction Working Group.

We extended the invite to anyone working in the industry, whether they identify as LGBT+ or as an ally, wanting to demonstrate support for LGBT colleagues. We were thrilled to have organisations such as FaulknerBrowns, Space Architecture, Mott MacDonald, Arup, Cundall, Atkins and Wood PLC marching alongside us.

This year’s Pride marks 50 years since the Stonewall uprising in New York, an event which led to some of the first pride marches. It also marks 30 years since Stonewall was founded by a group of people who wanted to break down barriers to equality.

Earlier this year, Stonewall released its report of the top 100 LGBT+ employers and in the seven years of the report no construction company has made the list although Housing Associations do. While that is disappointing, the industry has made huge progress in that time in terms of industry press, networks and companies raising the profile of LGBT+ issues and individuals in construction. The network Building Equality formed back in 2015 is an alliance of construction organisations and professionals working together to drive LGBT+ inclusion in the construction sector. Stereotypes and misconceptions are usually just a case of not being educated on the LGBT+ community. Building Equality increases the exposure of the community and spreads the right message in the right way. The network has grown substantially by expanding their reach from London into regional hubs in Leeds and Manchester, and fingers crossed, soon to be the North East. The network has grown to over 30 of the biggest companies in the industry and its only going to keep growing. It would be great to have them in the North East supporting the LGBT+ community and educating the industry.

We’ve come on leaps and bounds in terms of inclusivity in the industry but that’s not to say there isn’t more work to be done. There are so many people working in the industry, it’s understandably going to be difficult to change everyone’s outlook but the amount of people from the industry who supported us at Pride prove that things are beginning to.

Going forward we need to be encouraging the industry to be better represented within the Stonewall index. Change cannot be driven by one or a few companies, we need to do this together. We need to all improve our efforts to help the industry move in the right direction and next year, Northern Pride is hosting the national Pride parade, so we’re working towards a fantastic turnout under the Building Equality banner. Will you be joining us?

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.