This year's Pride month will be marked in a distinctly different way to previous years. With Covid-19 continuing to force everyone to approach life differently, Amnesty International, UK Black Pride, Stonewall and ParaPride have joined forces to bring celebrations online, through the 'Pride Inside' festival. Yet, whilst the celebrations may have taken a different turn, the sentiments behind Pride are more important than ever.
Pride has meaning for people in many personal and unique ways. For some, it’s a time of celebration and an opportunity to show support to our LGBTQ+ community. It’s a chance to take stock of how much progress has been made with same sex marriage, extension of adoption rights and the government setting new plans and standards. For others, it’s a period to consider how much more there is to do to break down still existing marginalisation, bias and ensure that people can comfortably and confidently be their full selves. It’s a call to action.
Whilst positive progress has been made to address the importance of representing our LGBTQ+ community socially, there is still some way to go in the workplace. Research has shown that, increasing workplace visibility, openly being supportive and being demonstrably inclusive towards our LGBTQ+ colleagues is needed. Indeed, it has a fundamental impact on how we grow as businesses, attract and develop our best talent and collectively reach our potential. Yet, almost one in five LGBT staff have reported being the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues (LGBT in Britain Work Report 2018).
The step change is needed even more so in the construction industry. In January 2018, the pan-industry annual LGBT+ survey launched by Architects’ Journal, New Civil Engineer and Construction News found that just 2.5% of people answering the survey identified as LGBT+. 59 % of all respondents had heard sexuality being used as an insult in the workplace and around the same number didn’t feel comfortable on site. 60% believed their sexuality and/or gender identity created career progression barriers and 31% felt that working in the construction industry had a negative impact on their mental health. Many employees are therefore feeling as though they cannot openly be themselves, YouGov research in 2018 showed this to be more than a third of LGBT staff in all workplaces. No doubt the figure is higher in the construction industry.
As the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development states, “regardless of our identity or background, we all deserve the opportunity to develop our skills and talents to our full potential, work in a safe, supportive and inclusive environment…and have a meaningful voice on matters that affect us.”
No longer is it enough for businesses just to say they’re a diverse and inclusive workplace. Being welcoming, friendly and having a clear open-door policy are practices that absolutely create a positive environment to work within. Having the basics in place such as a sound equality, diversity & inclusion policies are, of course, essential. Notwithstanding that, focus must now be shifted for many businesses in the industry to make a step change and to take proactive promotion of a company-wide culture of acceptance. Employees need to clearly experience an environment where everyone genuinely feels valued, supported and able to be them (full) selves without fear.
As we prepare to launch a new diversity & inclusion strategy, we’ve been asking ourselves some challenging and critical questions at Pick Everard:
- Is our workforce representative of our communities and clients?
- Is our recruitment strategy reaching a diverse enough audience?
- Do our policies, communications and practices consistently reflect our positive attitude towards equal treatment and inclusion?
- Do our actions and day to day workplace experiences mirror our commitments?
- How visible is this to our people?
We’re identifying ways in which we can work together differently, to positively impact on the working lives of our staff, to welcome new ideas and perspectives on how we can perform better and to establish a stronger sense of belonging. Here’s some of the things we’re doing for Pride Month:
- We’ll be communicating our new Core Values and the results of our new Practice-wide Core Values Survey. The survey reflects how people feel about Pick Everard’s culture and what behaviours people would like to see more of. Most of these behaviours align with our desire to be more inclusive - such as ‘Being Compassionate’ – and we’ve included a range of indicators, shaped by the feedback of our staff.
- We’re launching a new online diversity forum within our Practice so that people can tell us more about what they would like to see, across all diverse groups. It will be open to everyone at Pick Everard, nationwide.
- We’ll be progressing our work on our new long-term Diversity & Inclusion strategy and communicating to our staff how this is beginning to shape up. We’ve set a range of new KPIs and series of initiatives across priority areas and we’ll develop this further with the ideas from our new online diversity forum.
- We’re writing a range of blogs for Pride, which will be shared on social media and our internal People Hub platform, and we’ll be encouraging our people to get involved.
- We’ve pledged to deliver Building Equality’s LGBT+ Training Toolbox talk this month. We’ll be delivering this in two sessions for our people and recording it for people to access at any time.
- We’re running Practice-wide a ‘lunch & learn’ on Inclusivity and Dignity at Work.
- We’ll collectively be undertaking a cycling and baking challenge to bring a sense of togetherness in the spirit of Pride, whilst we all remain remote.
It would be fantastic to see other businesses in the industry doing the same or more so that we can collectively drive important change in this area. However you’re marking Pride this month, I hope you feel the sense of community and togetherness you have in previous years and above all, stay safe.
Steps forward have been made, particularly by larger construction firms. Over the past 12 months, more contractors have set up their own LGBT+ networks within their business and there were more construction workers than ever before marching for equality at the LGBT+ Pride march in London last July.