CIC Blog: 2017

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Engaging Men for Gender Equality at Work

Michael Kimmel

Sociologist & Author

Here is what we know: we cannot fully empower women and girls without engaging boys and men.

This is not ideology; it's empirical.  Seriously.  Name one reform that women wanted that didn't require men's support.  The vote? Access to education?  Entry into the trades and professions? Driving a car?

It's true, women’s progress towards equality is incontestable.  It seems obvious that we are, today, more gender equal than we have ever been in our history (I hasten to point out that we are not “there” yet, that we have not fully achieved gender equality, just that we are closer than we have ever been.)   But progress towards greater equality has slowed: women have pushed the glass ceiling higher on the corporate ladder, but all that leaning in has not crashed through to the board room.   Girls and women compose half of all students in our law, medical and business schools, and have made enormous strides in STEM courses.  Working mothers are doing more housework and child care than they did 30 years ago.  Every day, we read stories of sexual assault – in our schools, homes, at parties, and in our military. 

How can we further the campaign for women’s equality?  How can we help women get there?

By engaging men.  Particularly, we need to help men decouple those aspects of masculinity that hold men – and women – back from living the lives they say they want.

This is crucial.  A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center found that women and men rated “being a good parent” (94% of women, 91% of men) and “having a successful marriage” (84% of women, 83% of men) equally highly – and nearly tice as important as “being successful in a high-paying career.”  (Interestingly, women rated career aspirations slightly higher than men did, 51% to 49%).

So women and men want the same thing: good careers, loving relationships and happy families.  Women are advised to lean in, or to opt out – as if they can do it alone.  But women can’t have the lives they want without some support from men.   Men need to listen up. 

Let me offer a few examples.  Take education.   Four decades after a concerted effort to remedy dramatic gender discrimination in education, we read today about a “boy crisis”  -- gender disparities in college attendance, a gender-grade gap with girls earning better grades and taking most academic honors, while boys populate the detention room, special education classes, and are diagnosed with ADHD far more often.  Remedies abound, from the sensible (greater attention to individual learning styles) to the illogical and possibly illegal (single-sex classes with thermostats set at different temperatures, gender specific classroom seating arrangements and course materials, all based on outdated stereotypes). 

In reality, much of the cause of the “boy crisis” in education lies with the definition of masculinity held by the boys themselves – the notion that academic disengagement is proof of masculinity.  Helping boys to engage academically requires that we recognize different learning styles along an array of measures – which in turn leads to recognizing diverse aptitudes and competencies, enabling everyone, girls and boys, to better achieve to their potential.

Or take balancing work and family.   We know that women will not be able to balance work and family until – well, until men do. 

Twenty years ago, I wrote an article in the Harvard Business review entitled “What Do Men Want?”  In it, I asked men who worked for companies that offered parental leave to men why they didn’t take it when they became fathers.  Each one told the same story: his colleagues wondered loudly if he was really committed to his job, his supervisor gave his permission with a promise that he’d be put on the “daddy track” a stalled track that did not end in partnership.  In each case, it was other men who had created a workplace climate that thwarted these fathers from taking the opportunity they wanted to take.

Despite this, in the past two decades men have stepped up on the home front.  Well, not exactly stepped up – more like stepped out.  Men are doing marginally more housework, but significantly more childcare than they did a generation ago.  This separation of housework and childcare has resulted in a new phenomenon: dad has become the fun parent.  Dad takes the kids to the park to pay soccer while mom cleans the breakfast dishes, makes the bed, does the laundry and prepares lunch.  The kids come home proclaiming what a great time they had and what a great parent dad is. 

If we want to help women, we need to help men find all those inner joys of housework that anti-feminists have been celebrating for decades – or at least to do their share. 

What about health?  Yes, we know that women outlive men by about 5 years, 81 for women and 76 for men.   Men are more likely to die of stress-related illness and miss work due to workplace accidents.  By defining masculinity as risk-taking stoicism, men are less likely to have routine screenings, less likely to comply with workplace safety in the name of proving masculinity.  Our notions of masculinity deprive our spouses and partners and families of our presence for those five years because of our adherence to these ideals of masculinity.

Finally, let’s get even more intimate.  Decades of research have shown that the more men subscribe to what we might call “traditional” notions of masculinity – that manhood is defined by strength, aggression, emotional toughness and sexual prowess – the more likely they are to believe that male-female relationships are adversarial, that control of women is central to manhood, and that violence is sometimes necessary to control a female partners – beliefs that translate into behaviors, like earlier first sex, higher rates of HIV and STDs, and domestic violence. 

Conforming to these traditional ideas of masculinity may be hazardous to our health – but it is also hazardous to the health of our wives, partners and children, 

What’s common among these is that men often feel they must prove their masculinity – and they must prove it to other men.  One wants to be a man’s man, a man among men.  (Who wants to be a ladies’ man – or, gasp, a “girly man”?) 

We need to help men reduce the power of that gender policing – the fear that otherm en will see us as less than manly if we listen to the voices in our own hearts about how we want to live our lives. 

If the past few decades have made anything clear it’s been that we are neither Martians nor Venusians.  And what’s good for Earthlings – male and female – is good for all of us.   If we want to help women achieve greater equality, we have to engage the men. 

Contributor: Michael Kimmel is a Sociologist and author of "Angry White Men", you can see Michael's Tedtalk on why 'Gender Euqlaity os good for everyone - Men included' here

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How to avoid adjudication

Niall Lawless 

Chartered Arbitrator and Engineer, Adjudicator, Mediator

This week the CIC today published a new ‘Users’ Guide to Adjudication, which replaces the Construction Umbrella Bodies Adjudication Task Group “Users’ Guide to Adjudication” produced in April 2003. 

When I am asked how to avoid adjudication, I reply that competent contractors avoid adjudication by using the Contract properly, they keep good records, and use a formal method for evaluating commercial risk. In this blog, I discuss the importance of good records.

Competent contractors have the right combination of experience, knowledge and skills required to carry out the work safely. What is right will depend on the complexity and scale of the project. Well-organised, complete and co-ordinated production information is a prerequisite for the proper management of construction. To effectively control and monitor a project, capable contractors maintain good, accurate and complete records. They have a change control system, and maintain a fit-for-purpose project documentation and record keeping system. Record-keeping will enable the contractor to comply with the contractual reporting obligations, as well as to establish and/or defend claims. 

Documentation can provide contemporaneous records of what actually happening on a project and the parties’ positions regarding past events. “A party to a dispute, particularly if there is “adjudication”, will learn three lessons (often too late): the importance of records, the importance of records and the importance of records”. It is for the Party making a claim to satisfy the adjudicator to the civil standard of proof, on the balance of probabilities, that it enjoys entitlement. The adjudicator will not know about the project, which must be reconstructed for him with all its complexities and nuances. If not backed by meticulously established records, lawyers are ingenious in finding grounds, often quite real, on which to cast doubt on evidence. (1)

In an adjudication, involving the design, procurement, supply, installation and commissioning of PV systems onto about 3,000 roofs there was a dispute about how many damaged tiles the contractor had to replace. The contractor’s works were accelerated; it employed additional resources and more sub-contractors. It extended weekday business hours and worked weekends. The contractor argued that neither it nor the employer could keep up with the administrative burden of authorising or recording tile replacements, and a requirement to follow strictly the contractual procedure would have rendered any programme impossible to maintain. 

The contractor paid not enough attention to record keeping, and it only had evidence to support claims on about half the properties. The contractor said that the records it had were indicative of the tile replacement work for other properties where it was without records, and that it was reasonable to use the records it had to establish the total quantity of tile replacement. 

It asked the adjudicator to calculate an average number of tiles/slates replaced per property based on the records it had, and then to pro-rata an average cost across the remaining properties to estimate its total entitlement. In the circumstances, without contemporary records I decided that this methodology was without merit, and the contractor’s claim in respect of replacing tiles was not successful. 

Contemporary records are “original or primary documents, or copies thereof, produced or prepared at or about the time giving rise to a claim, whether by or for the contractor or the employer.”  Witness statements can record the recollections of those who were involved with the works, but are not a substitute for contemporary records. (2)

Compensable delay and disruption can be the ‘Holy Grail’ in claims preparation, particularly in infrastructure projects, where the contractor will want to claim or recover for head office and site overheads. However, such claims can be complex to prove, and the degree of success of such claims is often related to the quality of records available.

The conundrum is this. With good record keeping there is less likely to be a dispute. With poor record keeping, there is more likely to be a dispute, and it is less likely that a claim for loss and expense for delay and disruption can be adequately substantiated. 

Information and the Zone of Ambiguity

One area I am intrigued with exploring and learning more about in the interconnection between BIM and disputes arising and being resolved.

Traditional CAD uses software tools to generate digital 2D and/or 3D drawings. BIM changes the way construction and engineering professionals work. Typically, the BIM process uses three-dimensional modelling software to increase the productivity of consultants and contractors during design and construction. BIM is the process of generating and managing building data during design, construction and during the building’s or asset’s life cycle, in a single source model. (3) BIM facilitates design and management using intelligent objects. The object represents a single entity and describes both the structure and behaviour of that construction or engineering component.   

One anecdote from my time working in Hong Kong is of a contractor taking 2D CAD drawings from consultants, and developing its own BIM model to identify clashes and the possibility for claims. What a creative use of evolving technology?

1. Engineering Law and the I.C.E. Contract Max Abrahamson Fourth Edition 1979 ISBN 0 419 16080 9 Routledge
2. Attorney General for the Falkland Islands v Gordon Forbes Construction (Falklands) Limited (2003) 6 BLR 280

3. CIC Building Information Modelling Standards Draft 6.2

Contributor: Niall is Chair of the CIC Adjudicator Nominating Body Management Board. He is a Chartered Arbitrator, Building Services Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Information Systems Engineer and Chartered Builder. He provides arbitration, adjudication and mediation services in commercial technology, engineering and construction disputes.

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New HSE Guidance on Risk Assessments

Billy O'Brien CIOSH

Health & Safety Professional and Director of Customer Success

Effective Software 

The HSE has issued a proposal to update the guidance on risk assessment (known as INDG 163) in order to place “more emphasis on controlling risk and less on written assessments.”

Nothing in health and safety legislation says “for every activity and piece of equipment you must draw up a table, list everything that can go wrong in the first column, come up with numbers for likelihood and severity of each hazard, multiply these together, and then add extra controls in the last column if any of the numbers are quite big.” The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations instead require you to “make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks” and to record “the significant findings of the assessment”.

The HSE have been concerned for some time that this simple, sensible requirement has become an industry in itself, with companies selling generic risk assessments which sit on shelves without making the workplace any safer. In the previous 2014 version of the guidance the HSE did emphasise that “a risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.”

The new HSE proposal goes further by asking employers to look at the types of documents they already have, and see how these are used to communicate health and safety controls. Disappointingly, there is no mention of any technological solutions to reducing the paperwork burden. The Effective Method Statement software module, for example, makes use of information in risks assessments, as well as other modules on PPE, equipment or people to efficiently create appropriate instruction sets.

The HSE suggest method statements as an example of an existing document which would provide a record of your “significant findings”, so let’s see how that would work. Where a method statement focuses only on the mechanics of the task, the technician is expected to read a separate risk assessment for the hazards and controls. However, if a method statement is well written, the person doing the job doesn’t need to refer back to a risk assessment. Consider a boiler repair where working on hot equipment could result in a burn. If step 1 is “check the boiler has cooled down” there is no need to refer to a separate risk assessment.

Whilst the technician might follow the method statement for a boiler repair, warehouse staff carrying out routine manual handling are unlikely to refer to a method statement. So look around, and see what else you “may already have” to communicate and manage risks in your business. What about signs and posters?

Take a typical manufacturing plant that needed to improve risk assessment practices – trolleys were sometimes overloaded, people didn’t always ask for help when they needed it, and a cluttered workspace resulted in awkward working positions. A risk assessment could have been issued to each member of staff asking them to sign a piece of paper to agree they had received it. A detailed method statements could have been created for each process. Compliant, yes, but unlikely the assessments or method statements would ever be referred to. Instead, colourful posters positioned at the appropriate places in the workspace – a picture of a correctly loaded trolley where the trolleys are loaded, a reminder of the impact on posture of an untidy working area by the shelves where the clutter problem occurred most often, and pictures reinforcing the idea that asking for help was the right thing to do rather than a sign of weakness.

Although too many signs and posters can be distracting, putting a reminder on a piece of equipment of the essential safety checks needed, or photographs of how furniture should be stacked will have more impact than the same information hidden in the last column of the risk assessment in the shiny folder on the shelf.

The evidence that appropriately positioned signs can change behaviour is so convincing that NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommend employers put signs by lifts and escalators to encourage staff to use the stairs, to promote physical activity in the workplace.

Contributor: Billy O'Brien is a Health & Safety Professional and Director of Customer Success at Effective Software. Effective Software can help you with the management of your organisations Risk Assessments and Method Statements please do get in touch for more information.

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CDM Differently*

Tony Putsman


Xenophon Project Services Limited/ Construction Team Technologies Ltd

CDM Differently* – Safety Culture Gap Management** A challenge for the Industry?

How has the UK Construction Sector responded to the more stringent requirements set out in the revised CDM Regulations which came into effect on 6th April 2015? After a pretty hectic first twelve months I get the sense that the Industry , in some respects, has lapsed back into its old ways.

I recently carried out some consultancy work for a large contractor, as part of their drive to understand the underlying and root causes of ‘near miss’ incidents which could have resulted in serious injury or potentially loss of life. This organisation has strong health and safety leadership and a positive culture that encourages everyone to influence how risks are managed on site. Although the incidents investigated were different in nature and potential outcome, my analysis suggested there was a common flaw in the way the project teams on the various sites addressed risk management. A lot of effort had gone into producing project documentation that covered generic risks, but the project teams had failed to recognise the particular combination of site factors and construction activities that represented ‘significant risk scenarios’. None of the incidents investigated had been adequately addressed in the pre-planning stage.

Rather than seeing this as a failure of individual teams or organisational weaknesses, I concluded that the approach to project risk management taken by this organisation was in accordance with the established, orthodox, document-led  philosophy adopted throughout the industry.

Amongst the documents provided for each investigation were:-

  • Company policies and procedures
  • Construction phase health and safety plans
  • Site induction presentations
  • Task based risk assessments and method statements

When investigating the causes of different incidents it became clear that in each case the specific risk profile of the activity being undertaken had not been thought through in any detail. There appeared to be a presumption that everyone was working in accordance with established (written) procedures but there was no evidence that compliance (or lack of it) was being monitored.

The provision of excessive, generic documentation has been addressed in the revised CDM 2015 regulations. Regulation 8 makes specific reference to the need for health and safety information to be ‘comprehensible’. The guidance relating to this particular regulation (which applies to all duty holders) states ‘Any information or instruction provided should be in simple, clear English….Only information that is necessary to help prevent harm should be provided - unnecessary information can prevent the clear communication of key messages.’

The HSE is fully aware of the over- reliance on standardised documentation used ‘to demonstrate compliance’ with the regulations. Back in 2005 it was the HSE who devised the slogan ‘Teamwork not Paperwork’ in the consultation phase for the development of the 2007 regulations.

The problem of excessive paperwork does not simply reside with Principal Contractors. The failure to identify ‘significant risks ‘ often starts at the concept stage of a project when clients and their lead designers should be identifying and evaluating the ‘difficult to manage ‘ aspects of the project so that the whole project  team can engage collaboratively in developing a risk reduction process that leads to safe construction.

If the Industry is to wean itself off excessive bureaucracy it will probably happen incrementally, project by project, as clients understand that they are accountable for the management arrangements put in place on their projects, ‘so that health, safety and welfare is secured.’

The role of the Principal Designer will be crucial in assisting clients to develop a strategic approach, at the outset, which addresses the need for practical, proportionate risk management, and a departure from the tick box mentality that has come to characterise health and safety in construction. Although the role of PD is new, the concept of developing a Project Strategy is not.

Sir Michael Latham’s report   – Constructing the Team- published in  July 1994, (around the time that the CDM Regulations were first coming  into force) , had been commissioned by the UK Government following a series of poorly performing high profile public sector projects. The main focus of the report was on how projects were procured and the contractual arrangements being employed at the time. The report described the construction sector of that period as “ineffective”, “adversarial”, “fragmented”, “incapable of delivering for its customers”, and “lacking respect for its employees”.

The report does not address the Health and Safety agenda specifically, although it does outline the proposed CDM 1994 regulations (which eventually came into force in March 1995).Whilst some of the  main recommendations around contractual arrangements have been adopted by clients , others have been largely ignored. Building the project team around a clearly defined strategy is a theme  identified in both ‘Constructing the Team’ and CDM 2015, although different language is used.

‘ Formulation of a project strategy by the client is  the first building block to a successful and cost effective scheme. Some believe that this project strategy stage should involve likely participants in the project itself, and in particular the leader of the consultant team.’                                                                                                                                  (Latham).

‘The client has a major influence over the way the project is procured and managed. CDM 2015 makes the client responsible for the impact their decisions and approach have on health, safety and welfare on the project. Clients could prepare a clear ‘clients brief’ as a way of setting out the arrangements.’                                                                                                                                                                                               (CDM 2015)

Clients generally look to their  professional advisers to guide them through the construction process. The creation of the Principal Designer role presents architects and engineers with an opportunity to facilitate  the  creation of well-directed, collaborative and  motivated teams led by informed clients. The benefits to the project delivery will extend further than improving the health and safety aspects and clients need to understand this.

* CDM Differently – a CIC- led initiative that promotes a team based approach to risk management

** Safety Culture Gap Management – an ICE –led approach to understanding the root causes of failure in organisational  health and safety performance.

Contributor: Tony Putsman a Director for Xenophon Project Services Limited/ Construction Team Technologies Ltd. and the Vice Chair of the Construction Industry Council's Health & Safety Panel