Construction and LGBTQ+
The construction industry is committed to embracing diversity, equality and inclusion, and creating a working environment where the LGBTQ+ community can not only feel respected and safe but thrive and succeed. This is achieved through putting strategies into place, such as an industry-wide advice network, but also through celebrating events like Pride Month.
What is Pride Month?
Pride Month is a month when the LGBTQ+ community comes together and celebrates its diversity, equality, identity, its rights and, above all, its pride.
What month is Pride Month?
Pride Month is held in June every year. There are major Pride marches, festivals and celebrations in cities around the world, where people of all genders and orientations come together, enjoy themselves, celebrate their differences and raise awareness of issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community.
Inclusive workplaces: win-win
Research has shown that making the workplace more inclusive for LGBTQ+ employees brings many business benefits, including:
- Better job satisfaction and productivity among all staff
- Wider choice when recruiting staff
- Better staff retention
- Improved company reputation – heterosexual audiences also scrutinise businesses for their diversity record
A structured approach to develop fairness, inclusion and respect in construction companies has been provided by the CITB’s Be Fair Framework. It is aimed at creating workplaces where employees feel valued and supported. This is achieved through free resources that look at the Equality Act 2010 and how to implement this effectively in the workplace.
There is still more work to do, but employees from the LGBTQ+ community should no longer feel that they do not belong in construction.
No Bystander policy
Many employers adopt a “no bystander” policy to encourage people to challenge those who use offensive language – whether innocently or intentionally.
As they are within the community itself, LGBTQ+ staff are encouraged to be role models and to be given the time to inspire others, preventing feelings of isolation for employees.
The LGBT+ job site lists only jobs from companies with established policies of inclusiveness. It features jobs from multiple sectors including construction.
Surveys and influence
Staff are anonymously surveyed, with questions on sexual orientation and transgender identity, so they can share their thoughts on equality, diversity and inclusion. The feedback is used to help make company-wide policies and plans.
The industry wide advice network provides a supportive, safe and confidential space to meet, share and discuss views, experiences or concerns. It aims to raise the profile of LGBTQ+ construction professionals and act as an adviser on LGBTQ+ users of infrastructure.
Training to tackle unconscious bias
Unconscious bias training, coaching and workshops can also be offered. Unconscious bias is when we judge each other unfairly based on ignorance, making mental shortcuts, often resulting in bad, inaccurate or biased choices.
How can I create an inclusive workplace?
Being open about inclusion with new employees is the first step to building a workplace that is respectful, welcoming and diverse. There are some other strategies businesses can implement to make their working environment more inclusive.
- Make inclusion a key part of your induction programme
- Create a transition policy if one does not already exist
- Develop an ‘ally’ programme – where staff from outside the LGBTQ+ community support those within it
- Support your staff when they need time off work to observe religious or cultural celebrations
- Pronouns – give employees the option of using the pronoun they prefer – ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’ or something of their own choosing
- Be sensitive with your language around gender – you may not mean to, but generalised terms like ‘ladies’ or ‘gents’ can cause offence
One of the most important things employers can do is become more educated in the language of the LGBTQ+ community, and to understand the LGBTQ terms and terminology that are used to describe issues of gender and sexual identity. Here are a few that may help:
Core terms: LGBTQ+ glossary
An ally is a straight person who helps to support members of the LGBTQ+ community.
An asexual person is someone who does not feel sexual attraction but may experience romantic attraction.
A person who is sexually attracted to both men and women.
‘Cisgender’ or ‘Cis’ describes someone whose gender identity is the same as it was when they were born.
The long held but now outdated concept that there are only two defined and distinct genders, male or female.
The gender a person chooses to identify as based on societal norms and values, not necessarily aligning with the gender they were assigned at birth.
A person who has biological attributes of both sexes, or whose biological attributes do not conform to society’s concept of what constitutes masculine or feminine identity.
A woman who is solely sexually or romantically attracted to other females.
Someone who identifies and lives as a different gender to the one they were assigned at birth. Transgender men were born female, and transgender women born male; but they may also use terms like transsexual, gender-fluid or genderless to describe themselves.
A non-binary person is someone who does not identify as either male or female but may identify with aspects of both genders.
A pansexual person has feelings of sexual or romantic attraction to people irrespective of gender.
‘Queer’ was once seen as a slur by the LGBTQ+ community; however, it has been reclaimed and is now used as a way of rejecting specific labels of romantic or sexual orientation.
- Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) - packed with resources, employer best practice guides and a employer and community forum to share advice, expertise and experience.
- Stonewall - this organisation aims to help different industries and institutions to be fully accepting and welcoming to all.
- Constructing Equality - their vision is to create and sustain a fairer construction industry through the values of fairness, inclusion and respect.
- Diversity Jobs - this job site only includes postings from employers that are committed to employing a varied and diverse workforce.
- Building Equality - An alliance of construction firms collaborating to drive LGBT+ inclusion.
Coming out in construction
Find out what it’s like to transition in construction. Christina Riley, Senior Planner at Kier Group, gives insights into her personal journey. She found peace, campaigned for greater equality and inclusion, and achieved reconciliation.
Images courtesy of Christina Riley