Code of Conduct launched to promote gender equality & diversity in the construction industry

Code of Conduct launched to promote gender equality & diversity in the construction industry

03 March 2020

Silverstone Park developer MEPC has welcomed a code of conduct launched today by Barnwood Construction which aims to eradicate ‘bawdy behaviour’ on its construction sites and, in turn, attract and retain more young people – particularly women – into the industry.

The Barnwood Construction Code of Conduct has been developed as a response to MEPC Ltd’s own new Women into Construction initiative.

This encourages MEPC’s main contractors and professional teams to work together in order to increase the number of women entering the construction industry. Within the UK at the moment only 1% of the manual workforce in construction is represented by women – one of the worst in Europe.

Women Into Construction and Glanville – both established names in the construction industry – have voiced their support for the new Barnwood policy.

MEPC’s Roz Bird, Commercial Director at Silverstone Park, commented: “Senior people in construction have admitted to me just how much their industry suffers from an out-of-date ‘bar room culture’ on sites.

“This is not the sort of environment that will breed respect for others and must be a key reason why women do not want to join the industry, and why there is such a high suicide rate in general within construction.

“Every place of work needs to be ‘fit for purpose’ for the 21st century – reflecting all the best values in society where, for example, young, motivated people can flourish and feel welcome and respected.

“A policy of promoting gender equality and diversity in the workplace – and with it a sense of respect and wellbeing – is something that really matters to MEPC. It is why we set up our own Women into Construction group and have included Glanville, Ridge & Partners, Forkers Ltd, Barnwood and Wates in the discussions.

“We are therefore delighted to launch this Code of Conduct with Barnwood but are mindful that it takes more than just words – it needs contractors and sub-contractors on site to act on them.

“Barnwood has committed to an implementation plan that includes ‘toolbox’ talks, asking questions like: ‘Why would you behave differently on a construction site compared with how you behave in a queue at the supermarket?’ This type of session can better inform employees of what is expected of them and helps people develop the confidence to call out inappropriate behaviour.”

Barnwood handles construction projects for clients in the UK including commercial, industrial and distribution, leisure and hotels, office facilities, healthcare and education properties.

Its MD Ben Ramsay said: “Fewer than 15% of roles in construction are filled by women and the majority of those are in consultancy or offices, away from the ‘front line’.

“This is something we really want to change, by doing away with the industry’s ‘wolf whistling builder’ image and instead raising the profile of construction sites as being exciting, welcoming and inclusive places to work.

“We want to attract women into all roles, particularly in that front line, and see people flourish.

“I genuinely believe our Code of Conduct, with MEPC’s support, leads the way in being specific to site activities and more inclusive in who it extends to. We will be making it applicable to all Barnwood employees.”

Barnwood’s Code of Conduct is being launched as part of Silverstone Park’s week of activities leading up to International Women’s Day (Sun 8 March) focusing on issues #DataGap issues as highlighted in Caroline Criado Perez’s award-winning book Invisible Women.