Increasing diversity of construction has never been more critical

The Scottish Construction Leadership Forum (CLF) is celebrating International Women’s Day by highlighting its work on a National Equity and Inclusion Plan for the construction industry in Scotland which will drive increased inclusivity.

Funded by Scottish Government, this latest initiative is part of the wider plan for the industry to develop a more diverse and inclusive workforce, giving the sector access to a wider talent pool to support growth and help to address labour shortages.

In the construction industry in Scotland in 2020, 84.6% of workers were men and 15.4% were women. 1.6% of workers in the construction industry were from a minority ethnic background compared with 4.3% of minority ethnic workers in Scotland as a whole.

The National Construction Equity and Inclusion Plan seeks to address these imbalances by mainstreaming equity and inclusion within the industry as part of the CLF’s Construction Recovery Plan.

The goals of the plan are to assess the current situation, share information on impactful equity and inclusion initiatives and develop actions to drive the realisation of a workforce that is more representative of society.

The plan is being delivered in partnership with industry by Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) on behalf of the CLF and is funded by the Scottish Government. The project is being supported by a steering group of experts who represent multiple aspects of the industry and have championed the cause of equity and inclusion throughout their careers.

The strength of the steering group, combined with industry and government support, will help ensure that the recommendations of the plan are moved to active implementation once it has been published.

Emma Dickson, Technical Director at Arcadis and industry co-chair of CLF’s Skills and Workforce sub group issued a challenge to the sector to ‘Celebrate International Women’s Day by taking a meaningful step towards improving gender diversity in your workplace. What will you do?’

She says: “The new Plan will focus on meaningful action, drawing from best practice and experience. It will be critical for industry to embrace and action the recommendations; our strong industry networks and leadership groups must take the lead. Skills shortages alongside the need for new green/digital skills in the industry mean that improving the diversity of our industry has never been so critical.”

Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise and CLF chair Ivan McKee says: “It is really encouraging to see much needed progress towards creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive construction industry that is representative of the world we live in. I am delighted to see this work being promoted on International Women’s Day, when we can celebrate raising awareness against bias and taking action to advance equality.”

Lynsey Brydson, Head of Digital Programmes, CSIC says: “The collective objective we are aiming for is building a stronger, fairer and greener economic future for the construction industry and this investment is an important move in that direction. It is anticipated that the plan will be delivered in May”.

Peter Reekie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Futures Trust and Chair of the Executive Group of the CLF, says: “The CLF is embarked on a radical overhaul of the industry in Scotland and it is important to maintain momentum as the recovery gathers pace.

“The data shows that our track record on diversity is poor. The industry is missing out on the talents of too many people, and too many people who could have rewarding careers in the industry are not seeing it as a place for them. Leaders at all levels must do better and I am proud to support the group putting in place our first National Equity and Inclusion Plan, which will help them to do just that.”

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