Welcoming a change in attitude towards LGBT colleagues

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The Scheme is supporting calls for the industry to undergo a cultural shift after a recent survey revealed that many construction workers would be uncomfortable working alongside lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) colleagues.

Research carried out for industry magazines Construction News, Architects Journal and New Civil Engineer (NCE) also found that just 7% of LGBT employees would recommend the construction industry as a ‘great place to work’.

Homophobia common in workplace

More than half of LGBT staff surveyed said that homophobia is common in the workplace, with almost two-thirds of staff hearing offensive or homophobic comments in the last 12 months.

The survey, outlined here, raises a number of questions about the attitudes towards LGBT issues within the construction industry, which is falling behind other sectors, according to LGBT campaigning charity Stonewall.

The Scheme’s ‘Spotlight on…language’ feature addresses how the issue of offensive and abusive language in the workplace can be tackled.

‘Spotlight on…’ also covers the topic of mental health which may be useful for LGBT workers who may feel marginalised or misunderstood in the workplace.

Diversity champions

Stonewall has praised construction companies such as Balfour Beatty which launched its LGBT Employee Network to drive forward best practice on sexual orientation and gender identity across the business.

Co-chaired by Balfour Beatty’s Senior Planner Christina Riley and Document Controller Rose Donaghey, the LGBT Employee Network now has over 80 members and many supportive allies across the UK and now in the USA.

Christina Riley said:

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The group exists to support staff who identify as LGBT, on a confidential basis, but it also engages with straight allies, as well as those who may have family members who identify with LGBT.

Through meetings, identifying LGBT role models within the business and mentoring, the group aims to ensure positive attitudes towards the LGBT community.

Here at Balfour Beatty, we aim to be inclusive to all diverse groups, and to be the preferred company of choice when LGBT graduates are looking to progress their careers.

Balfour Beatty also joined Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme – being one of the first construction companies to do so – actively becoming a beacon for equality and diversity for the rest of the industry. The programme helps employers to ensure that workplaces are inclusive for gay, lesbian, bi and trans staff.

Education, education, education

As well as providing useful posters, literature and information for Toolbox talks, Stonewall representatives can visit the site to provide wider workforce information and education.Sites can gain useful information by visiting the Stonewall charity for education in positive recruitment, engagement and retention of LGBT workers within the industry.

Additional information for sites can be found through the Scheme’s Best Practice Hub, including articles on Stonewall, the Gender Trust and CITB’s Be Fair Framework.

Star performers

Both Balfour Beatty and Lend Lease Construction Holdings Ltd have demonstrated their commitment to supporting LGBT staff by being two of the first construction industry companies to sign up to Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

Also praised as being LGBT-supportive organisations are Gentoo, which has been singled out by Stonewall as one of its top eight Star Performers, thanks to its ambitious programme to tackle same-sex domestic abuse in the community.

Other high performing organisations include Scheme Client Partner the Environment Agency as well as housing association Circle Housing Group.

To visit Stonewall’s website, click here

Top photo: At Gay Pride 2015 (from left to right) Balfour Beatty’s Rose Donaghey, Claire Garrett and Christine Riley
Following photo: At Gay Pride 2015 (from left to right) – Rose Donaghey, Wayne Dhesi of Stonewall and Christine Riley