This weekend over 260 people from 23 construction firms will represent #BuildingEquality at Pride in London, under the theme of ‘Pride Matters’. We will come together to march along with a rainbow JCB provided by Flannery Plant to help increase awareness of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) employees in the construction industry.
Many members have launched LGBT+ networks to foster inclusion in their own companies and over the next 12 months #BuildingEquality will focus on continuing to drive change not just through main contractors but also through the supply chain. This aims to encourage an inclusive environment, proven to reduce stress and anxiety amongst the LGBT+ community, allowing people’s talents to flourish.
Construction News recently conducted a survey of 1,045 people in the construction industry and found that over half (56%) of LGBT+ respondents aren’t comfortable being open about their sexuality or gender, and a third (28%) have had an offensive or inappropriate comment made about their gender or sexuality in the workplace over the past year. These results show that there is much work to be done to ensure the construction industry is a truly diverse and inclusive workplace for its LGBT+ employees and that is why the work of #BuildingEquality and its members is so vitally important.
Jo Hennessey, Chair of #BuildingEquality and WSP network committee member, commented: “It’s fantastic that this year we have more senior leaders than ever before taking part in the parade, showing that it’s no longer down to employee networks alone. We’re beginning to see LGBT+ inclusion not only supported but in some cases driven from the top.”
Steven Woodward, chair of the Kier LGBT+ and Allies community, said: “Pride means a great deal to our Kier LGBT+ community and we are immensely proud to be supporting them at London Pride. Pride matters because it gives the industry the opportunity to drive diversity and inclusion alongside our construction partners at #BuildingEquality. Only when we come together as an industry can we promote true change and improve the working lives of all our employees, LGBT+ and non LGBT+ alike.”
Georgina Scott, #BuildingEquality committee member and Lendlease LGBT+ Network Chair, said: “This is the fourth year Lendlease has marched at Pride as part of #BuildingEquality which has grown to more than twenty member companies, up from only four in 2015. To create the best places, we need a culture and an environment that embraces difference, where we can benefit from the diverse thinking, experiences and backgrounds of all our people. We are committed to growing and sustaining a diverse and inclusive culture; where people can bring their ‘whole self’ to work and feel safe, empowered and motivated to be the best that they can be.”
2018 marks a symbolic year for the LGBT+ community, it has been 30 years since Section 28 was introduced, banning local authorities from promoting homosexuality and 15 years since it was repealed across the UK.
Since the millennium we have seen a more positive outlook on legal rights for employees who recognise themselves as part of the LGBT+ community. In 2010 the Equality Act became law in the UK, making it illegal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the workplace.