No whistling while you work

A new poll by Direct Line for Business (May 2012) has found that three quarters of tradesmen, including roofers, plasterers and construction workers, no longer believe in wolf whistling passers-by.

The research, involving construction workers within many different professions, was carried out to reveal the changing attitudes towards the opposite sex within the industry.

Over the last 15 years, the Considerate Constructors Scheme has been working with construction companies to instil a change of culture in this respect and make those working in the industry aware that this behaviour can cause offence. The results of this poll demonstrate a change in attitude and it is rewarding to see the successful results of our efforts. Though some people may find this action a light-hearted and innocent practice, there are many who feel threatened and distressed by such conduct.

One of the Scheme’s core objectives since its inception was to encourage the industry to be more considerate to the public, which included making people aware of behaviour which can be deemed inappropriate and offensive, such as the construction workers’ stereotypical wolf whistle. This type of behaviour would not be expected in other places of work, such as in retail shops or bank branches, so there is no reason for it to occur on construction sites.

Thousands of construction sites and hundreds of construction companies have been registering with the Scheme for years, showing their support towards working for a more considerate industry where this type of behaviour is no longer expected. The results of the poll prove that the reputation of construction is changing with the help of the Scheme, and the image of the industry is indeed improving.

As a result of this poll being published, Scheme Monitor Trevor Fish was asked to give a radio interview for BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, on behalf of the Scheme, to discuss the new findings. The BBC radio presenter asked Trevor whether stopping this behaviour is necessary or whether it is only seen as a bit of harmless fun. Trevor responded, saying that wolf whistling is certainly not the biggest concern of the Scheme in improving the image of the industry, and the reality is that very few complaints are received about operatives’ behaviour. However, it can cause distress for some people, and in turn if a complaint is made, it reflects badly on that construction company and on the industry as a whole.

Jazz Gakhal, head of Direct Line for Business, said:

The research reveals changing attitudes to acceptable behaviour in the workplace, with people labelling behaviour other generations might have tolerated as outdated and inappropriate.

It appears the days of women being wolf whistled at as they pass building or construction sites are dying out. Attitudes regarding acceptable behaviour towards members of the opposite sex continue to evolve and it appears for many the wolf whistle represents a time long past.

Edward Hardy, Chief Executive of the Considerate Constructors Scheme, added:

This poll confirms our beliefs in the improving image of the construction industry. For years, the Scheme has been working with its registered sites and companies to achieve a more considerate workforce where building sites promote an image of professionalism. It is excellent to see the Scheme’s, and the industry’s, efforts being recognised.