Leading contractors such as Balfour Beatty, BAM Construct UK and Graham Construction are among some of the first to sign up to the Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) programme as the industry attempts to modernise its image and enhance perception.
The programme is being delivered by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and the Supply Chain Sustainability School with funding and support from the CITB.
FIR seeks to help address the skills shortage in the sector and the risk this presents to major construction, infrastructure and housebuilding projects.
Now, with the launch of the FIR Commitment: Better for Everyone, contractors and clients are calling on construction to take a stand and commit to change.
CECA chief executive, Alasdair Reisner, said: “With an unprecedented amount of work in the pipeline, it is essential that the industry joins together to ensure that a career in construction is considered an attractive option for the next generation and that we retain and develop those already working in the sector.
“In signing up to the campaign, companies large and small are declaring their commitment to making their workplaces fairer, more inclusive and respectful. I’m delighted to see so many leading the way and committing to drive change within their businesses to make our industry ‘Better for Everyone’.”
A total of 34 organisations have already signed up to the FIR programme, including Network Rail, Balfour Beatty and Graham Construction and Highways England, as well as key supply-chain players such as Hercules Site Services.
The FIR Commitment: Better for Everyone represents a vital step forward in accelerating transformation of the industry. The sector has a long way to go, however, as illustrated by figures from the annual survey of Supply Chain Sustainability School FIR programme participants.
The findings for 2017 reveal that whilst early-adopters are updating key HR and supply-chain processes, almost 90% have still to fully embed these changes, with as many as one in three yet to even start:
- Only 21% of organisations are monitoring diversity attraction and retention rates;
- Only 11% are changing procurement processes to drive a culture of FIR into supply chains;
- Only 11% have fully embedded FIR into recruitment practices; plus
- Only 10% have fully embedded FIR into people-management processes.
Positive impacts from the programme are beginning to be seen, however, as a result of organisations of all sizes undergoing FIR training. Beneficial outcomes range from better understanding of issues on the part of senior leadership teams and managers, to improvement in articulation and behaviours.
Drilling down into the detail, the direct benefits achieved by working on FIR through the Supply Chain Sustainability School have also been identified and calculated by Graham construction.
Specific rewards include: £300m in new work won; 15% increase in staff management skills, 13% rise in employee engagement and 5% jump in diversity of recruits; plus 3% drop in staff turnover.
Alan Bill, managing director at Graham Construction, said: “At Graham Construction, our ambition is to be recognised as an industry leader for FIR, which offers us an opportunity as a business to think beyond our own boundaries and be part of creating an attractive industry that treats its people with the respect they deserve.
“We support the FIR Commitment as a form of collaboration to address challenges that affect all companies. It is a key part of a strategy to modernise the image and perception of construction and address a sector-wide skills shortage, so that we can build a talent pipeline for the future.”
Group HR director at Balfour Beatty, Paul Raby, said: “A diverse and inclusive workforce is central to bridging the skills gap and ensuring the successful delivery of the pipeline of infrastructure projects over the next decade and beyond.
“The FIR Commitment is integral to this. We must have a workforce that is truly representative of the diverse world in which we live.”