Claudio Veritiero, chief operating officer at Kier, explains how our Diversity Report is looking to bring diversity to the forefront of the agenda and drive change to ensure that we attract and retain people from under-represented groups and they thrive at organisations like our own.
“It is well-documented that the built environment has an image problem, it is perceived as ‘muddy’, ‘manual’ and ‘male dominated’. As an industry we are striving for change, but we are not there yet, and the time to act is now.
47% of the UK workforce is female and yet the Office for National Statistics reported last year that within the construction industry, that drops to just 12% of the workforce. Put simply, this statistic is just not good enough.
As executive sponsor and chair of the gender strategy group at Kier, I am passionate about driving the diversity agenda here– and also beyond. As an industry, we must step up and work together to bring about change and better reflect modern society. A balanced business has far-reaching benefits, as shown in research by North Carolina State University, which found companies that embrace diversity are more successful when it comes to innovation as diversity allows for a wide range of ideas and experiences to be applied.
At Kier, we strive to create an environment that breeds innovation, allowing us to create solutions for our clients and colleagues and so we absolutely understand the need to attract and retain a diverse talent pool.
Our diversity research report ‘Attracting, retaining and developing a diverse workforce’, which we have launched today, is based on over 1,000 responses from a range of industries and backgrounds and provides three key insights;
- Firstly, we must make people stop and consider the built environment as an interesting and rewarding sector to work in. This is not just about the work that we do but the way in which we do it, with 50% of those surveyed stating flexibility and agile working as critical, something we have very much taken on board at Kier and adopted across many areas of the business.
- Our report also found that when trying to retain talent, there are no shortcuts. Colleagues need and deserve effective and supportive managers, with strong policies in place and a positive culture. Launched in 2016, our Balanced Business Network (BBN) promotes a culture of inclusion by connecting colleagues from across the business. The BBN was initially aimed at women within Kier but it has since widened its reach and resulted in the launch of our LGBT+ and Allies group. I’m proud to be a member of the BBN which meets regularly to discuss equality for all.
- Finally, the research reinforced the need for full transparency of opportunities and progression. This was especially important to BAME women, who value personal development highly. We understand that every single person within our business has their own ambitions and it’s up to us to help with that. Our partnership with WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) has actively brokered new opportunities for many, and 170 women will have completed a development programme designed to equip them to accelerate their careers and realise their potential.
We cannot and must not stop with people who are eligible to work now. We also have to look to the future, the next generation of talent, and promote this message to young people considering what career could be for them.
In 2017, we launched our industry-wide Shaping Your World™ campaign to address public perception of the industry and attract new talent by engaging with pupils, teachers, careers advisors and parents. We pledged 1% of our workforce to engage with schoolchildren across the country and to date we have met with over 22,000 pupils, telling them about the range of roles available in the built environment and the different routes of entry. In 2018, we opened this campaign up to partner organisations, including, Virgin Media, Energy & Utility Skills and Scape Group all working with us to attract a diverse talent pool in to the industry.
It is my hope that launching this report can spark real change and ensure our industry is accessible to everyone. We work in a fascinating, rewarding and innovative sector, where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Now the built environment must take a collaborative approach to deliver and widen the diversity pool”.