The Construction Leadership Forum (CLF) has launched a National Equity and Inclusion Plan (NEIP) for the construction industry in Scotland to encourage the development of a more diverse and all-encompassing workforce.

Funded by Scottish Government, this latest initiative is part of a wider transformation plan for the industry giving the sector access to a wider talent pool to support growth and help to address labour shortages.

In the construction industry in Scotland 15.4% are women, and there is a gender pay gap of 23%. Some 1.6% of workers in the sector are from a minority ethnic background compared with 4.3% of minority ethnic workers in Scotland as a whole. Figures show 10.5% of the workforce are disabled, 33% of construction workforce are aged 50+ with only 2.7% of starts in Modern Apprentices female. (Figures from Annual Population Survey 2020).

The NEIP seeks to address these imbalances by mainstreaming equity and inclusion.  The Plan sets out “Six by 2026” strategic aims which the CLF commits to work with industry to achieve.  These aims include the sharing of best practices across industry, using data and industry feedback to benchmark progress, signposting to a range of resources for companies to access and development of industry-wide E&I accreditation.

The Plan was developed following an in-depth study by GenAnalytics which looked at the challenges and current state of play and what current best practice there is from inside and outside the sector. It was informed by a wide stakeholder group including E&I experts, industry and government and found that construction falls way short of equity and inclusion standards compared to other sectors and identified a number of sector-specific issues to be addressed by the Plan.

FIS CEO Iain McIlwee said:

With profound shortages in people and cultural challenges that we need to address as a sector, initiatives like this take on new meaning.  A focus on inclusivity isn’t something we should do, it is something we have to.  It starts with individual behaviour, but requires a collective effort to truly deliver change.

Business Minister and Construction Leadership Forum chair Ivan McKee said:

“I recognise that we face new economic and social challenges of an unprecedented scale. This plan aims to support wider efforts to address inequality and promote greater diversity within the Scottish construction sector to encourage inclusive growth and help address labour shortages.

Companies with better records of fair work, equity and inclusion do better, have a healthier and more engaged workforce and demonstrate greater diversity of thought. Fairness and inclusiveness encourages better relations with partners, shareholders, customers and employees.

It will help support the increased resilience of construction and reinforce wider efforts to create a more sustainable economy, in line with the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation.”

Lesley Quinn, Divisional Director, Corporate Affairs at City Building, City Building, one of the case studies featured in the report and three-time Queen’s Award winner for commitment to E&I, said:

“We have worked hard to develop E&I across our business from our 200 apprentices to our leadership team, and the results have been outstanding. There is a growing depth of best practice in and outside of the sector, so it is encouraging to see that sharing this is part of the NEIP.”

Lynsey Brydson, NEIP project lead at Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST) said:

“The NEIP sets out a clear path for the sector to follow and importantly this will be benchmarked to monitor the progress that has to be made. Quick progress can be made through signposting to initiatives like the DIveIN programme run by Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST) that gives free E&I training and support to construction companies.”

Emma Dickson, Technical Director at Arcadis and industry co-chair of CLF’s Skills and Workforce subgroup, says:

“It is critical that the industry takes action to be more diverse and inclusive. The plan sets out key areas that we should focus on to make that happen. Larger construction companies are making improvements, but many SMEs need tangible support to make the changes needed. The next steps will be critical to make sure this happens.”

The Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) programme is an industry-wide initiative that aims to make workplaces better for everyone. This National Inclusion Week, the Supply Chain Sustainability School has highlighted findings from its Annual Culture Report and free training and resources available to support the industry in attracting and retaining people from the full pool of talent.