Construction industry supports Student Pride
Photo : Construction workers support Stonewall’s #RainbowLaces campaign
In 2015 the Architects’ Journal survey showed that on average 63% of workers in the construction industry heard homophobic language in the workplace, with a sharp rise to 85% for those who work as contractors. Over half have heard the word ‘gay’ used as an insult.
As the sector grapples with these high levels of homophobia described as “rife” by respondents of the survey, the industry has decided to reach out to LGBT graduates in an attempt to change the image of the trade.
National Student Pride have announced that six of the biggest construction firms in the UK will be attending its careers fair, the biggest of its kind in the UK, at its annual event held during LGBT History Month, 5th-7th February.
The fair, which will be held at the University of Westminster’s Marylebone campus on February 6th between 12-5pm, will see Arcadis, Arup, Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke, Lendlease and Skanska in attendance.
Christina Riley, a trans Senior Planner at Balfour Beatty CSUK and Co Chair of their LGBT Network said : “Having 6 of the biggest firms attending the National Student Pride Careers Fair says a lot about the positive change in the industry. There is a significant skills gap growing across the industry in all vocations and the industry is waking up to the fact that we are missing out on a whole pool of talent in the lgbt community as well as from other minority groups.”
The founder of National Student Pride Tom Guy who recently started his own business Guy Piper Architects spoke of his delight at the news, agreeing with Christina that this was a big step for what has long been a difficult industry to be out in.
Tom was ‘out’ in his previous jobs to his colleagues but didn’t have the confidence to come out on site with contractors adding “I am hopeful that situation will change in the near future as attitudes begin to alter.”
“As the sector grapples with these high levels of homophobia described as “rife” by respondents of the survey, the industry has decided to reach out to LGBT graduates in an attempt to change the image of the trade.”
Hatti Smart, Student Co-Chair of National Student Pride said : “It was incredible gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk that encouraged people to come-out, because every time you realise you know someone who is LGBT, a little bit of prejudice wears away” adding “Having the construction firms at Student Pride, may only be a small step, but it’s a vote of confidence in LGBT graduates in the industry and of change.”
Of course the move to increase the number of LGBT graduates in the construction industry will not be enough alone to change attitudes. However it’s part of a wider move across other parts of the industry. With the new year brought in the mandatory RIBA guidelines for all chartered practices to have a diversity policy from 2016 onwards.
This announcement comes on a big day for LGBT employment news, as Stonewall announces its top 100 LGBT-friendly employers in the UK. National Student Pride is happy to see partners EY and IBM credited as ‘Star Performers’, with their work helping Stonewall create the index on which they score other companies. Other National Student Pride partners included on the list include Clifford Chance (9th) and Aviva (46th).
The construction companies will be joining the likes of EY who have been platinum sponsors of the event since 2011, Clifford Chance, IBM, Aviva, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Google – just to name a few (of 50+ at the careers fair). The careers fair is free to attend and is open to everyone – not just students.