CIC Blog: Diversity

| Filed in Blog, Diversity
Diversity Means Business

Bridget Bartlett

CIOB Deputy Chief Executive

CIC Diversity Panel Chair 

Talk to any successful construction business and you will find a company that is not only technically competent but one that is adaptable. Construction is inherently a business based on solving unique problems. Those who can implement the best ideas tend to be the businesses who are most successful.

On the flip side if your business is narrow in its thinking, so set in its ways that it’s inflexible then you limit your capability for innovation and for attracting the next wave of talent.

There are still far too many narrow minded construction companies out there, and that has to change because the whole industry suffers. It’s not good for our public profile and it’s not good for productivity. Good ideas don’t just come from one type of person they come from people with different perspectives and backgrounds, collaborating and learning new things from each other. That exchange, openness and sharing of knowledge is something the social-media-heavy next generation expect. 

Construction needs to create the right inclusive environment to attract and retain the breadth of talented individuals that will ultimately solve some of the biggest urban challenges we face in our future.   

Inherently we all know diversity is a good thing. But there is also much evidence about what it means to a business’s bottom line too. In research conducted earlier this by global management consultant McKinsey & Company they found that companies in the top quarter for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry average. For those in the top quarter for gender diversity they are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their industry average.  In other words diversity means business.

So the message has to be if you want to run a prosperous construction firm well beyond the short term then don’t look at diversity as a nice-to-have. That mind-set has to change, it has to be more than just a strategic objective and more about a corporate mentality.  After all clients of construction are just as diverse as the rest of society.


McKinsey & Company research, 'Why Diversity Matters':

DWP See Potential Campaign:


Contributor: Bridget joined the CIOB as Chief Operating Officer in November 2008 and is responsible for the Institute’s Operations team, a portfolio which includes, education, examinations, membership services, international development and IT. Bridget is also Chair of the Construction Industry Council's Diversity Panel


| Filed in Blog, Diversity
Government consultation on closing gender pay gap: ‘Construction let’s have our say!’

Dr Dorte Rich Jørgensen D.Phil. (Oxon.), B.Sc. (Hons.), CEng, MCIBSE Principle sustainability engineer, Atkins

Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor in innovation at Heriot-Watt University                

CIC Diversity Panel Member representing CIBSE


As part of their election manifesto, the Conservative Party stated that they require companies with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap - the difference between average pay for male and female employees (BBC, 2015). Nicky Morgan, the Equalities Minster states: “We are committing to eliminating the gender pay gap in a generation. This is not just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense: supporting women to fulfil their potential could increase the size of our economy by 35%” (Guardian). Following the Equalities Act 2010, five companies Tesco, Friends Life, PwC, AstraZeneca and Genesis voluntarily published this. To identify how other companies can approach this policy, a Government consultation was launched on 15July, with responses submitted by 6 September.

What are we doing already?

Salaries are recorded in various publications linked to job description and status within the various regions. Evidence with regards to the pay gap is generally limited. However, the ICE’s survey on salaries in 2013 showed that the pay gap for their younger members (up to age 29) is nearly non-existent, but for those aged 45-49, men earn 38% more than women. Overall, the survey concluded that women earn 40% less than men, in line with the difference registered in 2010. The survey showed that the gap has only closed by 2% in three years.

Risk or opportunity for construction?

The construction industry may ask: ‘Where is the money going to come from to close a possible pay gap in a low margin industry?’ and ‘How will publishing my company’s pay gap results impact our industry perception?’ As we know, there is a skills gap to fill in our industry. CITB’s recent Construction Skills Network forecast suggested an extra 200,000 new jobs will be created in construction over the next five years as the industry expands. At the moment, the drop out of women in Science Engineering Technology (SET) are leakier than other professions and the gender pay gap is wider than in other industries (Smith Institute). Hence, whilst improvements have been made, there is still more work to be done and recruiting and retaining women is a priority for construction companies who need to fish from a wider pool.

Research has shown that businesses with more senior women out-perform their rivals, with 42% higher return on sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity (Bottomline: Catalyst, 2007). So what some perceive as a challenge could actually make good business sense.  

What is a planned approach to closing the pay gap?

Key findings from research commissioned by the Government Equalities Office showed that whilst the majority of employers considered that ensuring there was no gender pay gap was a priority for their organisation, only a small proportion (13%) had a planned approach for reducing the pay gap. This is likely to be true for many in construction too and across the industry we do not engage much specialist support and resources for this agenda. For example in 2008, a city firm of 6,000 people had six full time diversity and inclusion managers help embed equality and diversity within their organisation.

However, there are some strategies already being applied within our industry that we could use as part of a planned approach:  

  1. Women’s development programme: These programmes raise awareness with women on companies’ approach to negotiating pay.  For example, with upcoming pay reviews, feedback states that men are much more likely to have engaged with their superiors with regards to their pay expectations than women.
  2. Line management excellence programmes: conversations around money are tricky. Training needs to be in place to address this skilfully and with awareness.

In addition we need to embed the right behaviours and investments to make this happen:

  1. Informal, honest and open collegiate support: This makes all the difference!
  2. A clear message of sponsorships and advocacy from the top down through the organisation is essential.
  3. More specialist support, resources and funding for equality and diversity is needed.

These things combined will help nurture a culture that will help companies to close the pay gap in a supportive and planned way.

The Government consultation is available here:

Resources for collaboration and engagement:


Contributor: Dr Dorte Rich Jørgensen is a leading sustainability engineering consultant in Britain with 25 years of experience. She was the sustainability manager for Atkins on the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Park. She provides leadership within the UK’s design and construction industry, and has successfully embedded sustainability on a range of cutting edge and award winning project. As a thought leader, she has provided evidence to inform energy efficiency policy in Britain, and she is a sought after speaker who has also appeared in the press. Dorte’s doctorate studies at Oxford were related to improving energy efficiency and whilst a student she founded the graduate common room at Balliol College, Oxford. Dorte was born and grew up in Denmark, is CIBSE representative on the CIC diversity panel, and co-founded the CIBSE diversity panel.  


Tags: gender pay gap, Equalities Act 2010
| Filed in Blog, Diversity
Inspiring women driving change at MIPIM 2015

Helen Pineo

Associate Director – Cities at the Building Research Establishment (BRE).

CIC Diversity Panel Member

Sipping Champagne on the top deck of Arup’s yacht in the Old Port of Cannes, I was struck by the juxtaposition of the influential women attending our Future City roundtable and the general representation of women at MIPIM, the property sector’s annual business development event. Of the 21,400 people who attended MIPIM, I couldn’t tell you what proportion were women. But I can say that the women I met in Cannes were experienced influential thought-leaders who provide positive role models for women in the property industry.

In the UK, women represent 15% of the property and construction industry workforce. Given this underrepresentation, it is always a pleasure to meet women who have excelled in the industry and can inspire younger generations to stay in this career path and carve out their own way to achieving positive impact. What I found particularly inspiring at MIPIM were the women pulling through values of social inclusion and environmental sustainability fully aligned with a strong focus on economic growth. This blog post introduces a few of these women as inspirational examples in the wider development industry – their stories and perspectives are relevant for anybody in the sector.

I met Natalie Voland at the Future Cities roundtable, organised by World Cities Network and supported by BRE.  She shared her experiences working in Montreal as a property developer with a portfolio of approx. 1.5 million sq. ft and over 500 small and medium businesses. Natalie has a background in social work and this shapes her approach to real estate. She seeks to use her developments to bring about economic growth and urban regeneration, working with communities and small businesses to build property that is sustainable from the triple bottom line perspective.

Taking over her father’s property development business 18 years ago, Natalie had to fight through stereotypes to win respect from her workforce. She did this by working for three months in each of the departments of the company, including pounding nails on construction sites. To prove her commitment to excellence, Natalie told her new employees (some of whom had taken to calling her ‘Barbie’) that if she could do their job better at the end of three months, they would have to find a new job. This approach removed any doubt that Natalie was up for the job, but it’s not her only management style. Her company’s website says ‘whenever possible, we promote and support our employees' families.’ This is followed by a series of the company’s commitments to its employees emphasising strong family values, employee development and diversity within the company.

I saw Martha Schwartz speak at a session run by RIBA on designing Healthy Cities. She was talking about the role of public spaces and emphasised “that nothing can sustain itself over time if people are not invested in it either emotionally or physically”. Martha is clearly invested in the opportunity for urban landscapes to be huge assets for cities but describes a situation where they are currently economically and politically stressed. She was practical about the economic realities of maintaining high quality urban spaces, but adamant that there are huge costs to cities and society of not investing in public places. Her views in this session were a refreshing change from the other presentations which were more prosaic than thought-provoking material. Martha is a tenured Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and she runs her own landscape architecture practice in London with international clients. 

                      Caption: Martha Schwartz speaking at MIPIM, 12 March 2015

Photograph: Martha Schwartz speaking at MIPIM, 12 March 2015.

Rosemary Feenan, International Director at Jones Lang LaSalle, also attended our Future Cities roundtable. She is currently running the firm’s Global Research Programmes on World Winning Cities, Global Real Estate Transparency and Sustainability in Global Real Estate Market. I was impressed by Rosemary’s contribution to the discussion as she sought to point out where good practice in investment analysis in the property industry is beginning to address wider urban challenges. Rosemary has a background in urban planning and over three decades of experience in property market analysis.

Walking along the front of the Palais des Festivals you see the thousands of suits and ties moving between yachts and cafes to carry out the business of international real estate investment deals. It was refreshing and inspiring to meet a few women who have made real impact in this industry, albeit in different professions, with passion and expertise.  Outside of their impact on property, I think the women I’ve highlighted in this post will also be influential to young professionals who are looking for role models and the diverse range of career paths available in the development industry.

                               Future Cities roundtable, Natalie Voland (Left) and Rosemary Feenan (Right) at MIPIM, 12 March 2015, organised by World Cities Network.

Photograph: Future Cities roundtable, Natalie Voland (Left) and Rosemary Feenan (Right) at MIPIM, 12 March 2015, organised by World Cities Network.

For more information about the CIC Diversity Panel click here

Contributor: Helen Pineo is Associate Director – Cities at the Building Research Establishment (BRE). She has seven years of experience in urban planning with a focus on sustainability. In 2013 she led the creation of a BRE Women’s Network that holds cross-industry events to inspire young professionals.


| Filed in Blog, Diversity, Tony Burton
Diversity Matters

Tony Burton

Diversity Champion for Construction Leadership Council

Chairman Construction Industry Council


When I agreed to take the role of Diversity Champion for the Construction Leadership Council in November last year I did not think that my first publication under that heading would be in response to an attention grabbing headline in Construction News:

“Half of top contractors say diversity at their firms is ‘sufficient’ – CN Barometer, (7 January 2015.)

Beneath the headlines this means employing ‘sufficient’ women, graduates, apprentices and ethnic minorities, whilst simultaneously complaining about lack of skills and insufficient staff.  Mike Putnam, Chief Executive of Skanska responded, quite rightly in my view, by saying that this was ‘rubbish’.

With just 12% women in the construction workforce and just over 7000 apprenticeships completed last year this cannot in any way be sufficient.

The one common theme causing most senior management to lose sleep at the moment is lack of skills and shortage of good skilled staff.  Our industry lost over 400,000 jobs in the recession and a further 400,000 people will retire in the next decade.  With 10 % of our workforce between the ages of 19 and 24, 12% women and about 5% from a non-white background, construction cannot possibly fill the requirement for skill and jobs by looking to a pale male graduate supply.

Diversity matters because diversity means business.  Without diversity our businesses and our industry cannot thrive.  It is not only the right thing but it is now a compelling commercial imperative.

So what is the Construction Leadership Council doing about this?

It is no accident that the Industrial Strategy “Construction 2025” produced by government and industry in partnership, put PEOPLE first on its agenda.

The Construction Industry Council and its Delivery Group are working on a number of initiatives to address some key challenges. 

In spite of many excellent efforts we still have an urgent need to improve the perception of our industry amongst young people at school, their parents and their teachers.  We need to get across a compelling story that our industry is an excellent place to build a long and rewarding career with a real diversity of jobs available to all who want to join us.

CLC Delivery Group is working on proposals for a common gateway for information and advice, with clear entry routes into the industry.  An effective common industry framework for engaging young people with a gateway website.  A ‘shop window’ for our industry with a clear message that whatever your background or academic ability, construction can offer you opportunities and a rewarding career.

Whilst inspiring young people is the immediate focus of CLC and its Delivery Group to improving the image and attractiveness of the industry it is only the start.

The young people who are attracted to join us will in turn attract those that follow them.  But to create a diverse workforce we must retain a diverse work force.  

Many people have said, and particularly women already involved with construction, that we are not a welcoming industry.

Persuading women, and indeed men, to make a career in construction will remain a problem until this is addressed, and cultural change is at the heart of this.  Modernising employment procedures, embracing technology that allows flexible and remote working, creating the training opportunities which allow women and men with young children, those who care for relatives and those with disability to participate in our industry and grow to management roles are key to attracting and retaining diverse workforce.

Our industry is a vital economic sector.  If we are to remain so and our business to continue to thrive, then we need to recognise that we must attract and retain people from the whole of the talent pool. 

Diversity matters to business because diversity is business.

| Filed in Blog, Diversity
A review of the CIC2050 Group Construction Industry Survey 2014

Ruth Hynes

CIC 2050 Group Member 

The recent release of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) 2050 Group national survey results and analysis addresses the future of the industry across four key themes: Attitudes to the Industry; Progress on Sustainability; Social Media; Innovation.

With over 700 people responding, it represents a cross-section of the professions, including those in facilities management, academia and sales and marketing; and experience levels from recent graduates to those with over 20 years industry experience. 


What inspires you to work in the construction industry? What does the future of construction look like to you? What are the challenges and opportunities facing the future of our industry? 


The survey and results provide a valuable data source for the future development of the industry, highlighting areas that continue to challenge our industry. The survey illustrates there is an overall positive attitude to the industry,  with 83% saying they are proud to work in the industry and 55% believe theirs is an inspiring job.

Many of those who responded listed the collaborative nature of the industry, opportunities for working with a wide range of people and across a variety of projects, shaping a more sustainable built environment and being able to see designs built and realised as reasons for working in the sector.

However, despite the general positive outlook of the industry diversity remains a major issue, with only 33% of respondents inspired by the achievements of their organisation on diversity. The survey analysis shows that women are much more likely than men to leave within 10 years, implying ongoing issues in ensuring gender diversity and challenges in retaining women in construction professions.

Over half of the respondents indicated that social media is underutilised and could help to tackle some of the image challenges facing construction, including: communicate ‘making the difference’ to the world; showcase an industry with a wide range of entry points and roles; create a more ‘human face’ of construction; and demonstrate the impact you can have with the sector. 

Progress in sustainability and innovation were raised as ongoing issues which will continue to affect the construction industry and its impact on society, in particular developments and innovation in materials, ICT and prefabrication. BIM is seen as an important tool for further innovation in many areas.

There is also concern that there is insufficient effort across the industry on sustainability, in particular in water and biodiversity, as 72% feel that not enough is being done. Reuse and refit of existing buildings will continue to be of growing importance to tackle the demands on current housing and buildings stock.

On publication Louise Clarke, Chair of the CIC2050 Group, had this to say: “"The CIC 2050 Group survey sought to understand what inspires people currently working in the Industry, to help encourage future recruits into the industry. We were overwhelmed by the response we received and pleased that there was such a positive reaction from people about being proud to work in the industry.  The results have provided us with a detailed data source in which some key themes have emerged. The CIC 2050 Group intend to shape its future work around these responses in order to continue to be a voice for people at the early stages of their career." 

The survey highlights both the inspirational and challenging aspects of a complex and varied industry, and offers insight into opinions across the industry. 

Contributor: Ruth sits on the CIC 2050 group and has a degree in Architecture from Dublin Institute of Technology. Ruth is  the Network Manager at CIRIA  and oversees CIRIA’s knowledge transfer network. You can find Ruth on LinkedIn or at

To read the full findings, the CIC2050 Group Construction Industry Survey 2014 report is available here.

Tags: Sustainability, Social Media, Innovation, diversity
| Filed in Blog, Diversity
Working towards a fairer industry for all

Chrissi McCarthy
Managing Director of Constructing Equality Ltd

Working in the built environment sector can be a fascinating experience with the chance to: - test your skills on a large scale; work with a constantly changing array of new people; and leave a mark on the world.

Unfortunately though, as the economic climate continues to look bleak, the experience of working in the industry has become an increasingly stressful one with long working hours, salary freezes and dubious payment practices for sub-contractors - both consultants and trades.

Companies trying to address some of these concerns have found that they can be at odds with the requirements of PQQ and tender lists  and therefore find themselves having to put the short-term goals of the company (winning work and delivering) ahead of its long-term needs (creating a happy qualified workforce). An example of this being where project clauses ask sub-contractors to take on x number of apprentices for a specific project with the focus on getting local people into jobs; it’s not uncommon for the same company to work on another job 30 miles down the road to the same requirement leaving the company with the choice of: -not fulfilling the requirement (hopefully with a sympathetic client); having too many apprentices to adequately train; or, the more common scenario of letting the first group go less than a year into their contract.

These are challenges that affect the sector as a whole and as the industry struggles to attract the numbers of bright ambitious people that it needs, let alone provide them with the opportunities they need to develop early on in their careers, it’s only a challenge that will increase.

I strongly believe that in order for industry to overcome these challenges we have to find a way to work together to overcome these issues - by standing together as a sector and producing a solution to these challenges we should be able to help our clients to create a legacy that lasts longer than the duration of the project under construction and helps strengthen our industry at the same time. 

This is where the CITB Be Fair Framework (Built Environment Fairness Inclusion and Respect Framework) comes in. Designed in consultation with the sector, by people who have worked within in it,  the framework makes a number of major assumptions about the sector - of course these might not be true for everyone, but research shows us that they do reflect the majority of the industry: - 


  • Client procurement has a massive impact on fairness, inclusion and respect within the sector.
  • There is a lack of understanding from both clients and the industry around fairness, inclusion and respect and how to overcome the complex challenges it presents.
  • The challenges around people in the sector are incredibly complex due to factors like project-based and global working, nepotistic culture and stereotypical roles.
  • Overall as a sector we fail to attract and retain key talent in the numbers required.
  • The needs of a small consultant differ vastly from those of a large main contractor.
  • To become a diverse and equal workforce we need to create and maintain a fair working environment for those currently working in the sector.


“Felt the framework had real structure and focus. It felt very practical where other frameworks have felt more like a tick box – this didn’t” Vinci plc. 

(Gemma Concannon)

By understanding these and other challenges the framework design can create a tool that can start to bring change to the sector in a way that is affordable, sustainable, long-term and in line with public sector procurement.  Breaking the industry down into 18 different strands such as Consultant (large, medium and micro), Client (public and private sector), Main Contractor (large, medium, small and micro) and Sub-contractor (medium, small and micro) enables the framework to be written as  action plans including support documents for each organisation in a language that can be understood and with tools that are familiar.

Split over four levels the framework is a learning tool that pushes you towards excellence. At the first level (Bronze) you are not asked what you are doing, instead you are directed towards what you should be doing and given the tools to do it. At the second level (silver), you are still directed and given the tools, but this time you are encouraged to do more. At the third level (gold), you should have a good idea about what fairness, inclusion and respect entails and you are now expected to be able to apply these principles to your business, showing us the best way forward.  The fourth and final level (platinum) is your chance to show how your company is leading the field.

Already the framework has attracted attention from over 148 companies in the sector with over 110 now signed up on the on the pilot, feedback has been encouraging.

Because CITB and Constructing Equality have invested in the framework as a “greater good” product, it has meant that we are able to offer the industry options that other sectors don’t have; which if successful should mean our industry beginning to lead on this agenda.

In the CITB Be Fair Framework we have an opportunity to show how as an industry we can both deal with the challenges we face and also lead in this area, ensuring that we show our clients and stakeholders what is right for the talent we already have as well as how we can attract and nurture the professionals of tomorrow.


Contributor: Before starting Constructing Equality Ltd., Chrissi McCarthy spent more than 10 years at the forefront of the construction industry, first as a Setting Out Engineer and then a Site Manager. A Construction Management graduate and member of the Chartered Institute of Building, she played an integral role in the delivery of numerous projects, including Peckham Library, Manchester Interchange, a range of BSF Schemes, and a school in Uganda for charity. Today, Chrissi is part of the Fairness Inclusion and Respect Strategic Group that leads the industry on diversity. She holds lectures on diversity and equality at Universities and conferences, writes for leading construction publications, contributes to Government papers, influences key industry figures, and has even spoken at the House of Lords. Importantly, while her achievements are diverse, they share a common thread – to improve the reality of working within construction and its reputation among the public.

You can find out more about her via  on Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest

Tags: CITB Be Fair Framework, equality