Major gaps remain despite small steps on diversity and inclusion in the built environment workforce, according to the results of a new employee survey.
The survey from the Sustainability Tool and the Supply Chain Sustainability School’s Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Programme covered 339,912 employees working in 270 companies in the construction and utilities sectors. Two-thirds of respondents worked for tier one contractors such as Morgan Sindall and VolkerWessels.
Inclusion of ethnic minorities rose slightly from 13.3 per cent in 2021 to 13.7 per cent the following year. However, ethnic minorities account for 18.5 per cent of the UK population, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The survey also showed that 39.9 per cent of job applicants are from ethnic minority backgrounds, equating to 50 applicants per hire. This compares with 16 per hire for white applicants.
Amos Simbo, founder and CEO of the Black Professionals in Construction Network, told Construction News that “the talent is there” to benefit the construction industry, but no single factor can explain the comparatively low level of participation from ethnic minority communities. He added: “We experience these sort of trends daily in our working with clients and it falls down to a number of reasons why there is a sharp drop in uptake [of applicants].”
The FIR Programme survey has assessed diversity and inclusion in the construction and utilities sectors every year since 2016, but 2022 was the first time that companies reported pay gap data.
Results showed a 20.7 per cent difference between male and female workers, and an 8.3 per cent ethnicity pay gap.
But the true picture may be even worse, as fewer companies than in 2021 (65.2 per cent compared with 77.2 per cent) reported that they have policies and processes in place to monitor pay imbalances.
Results showed an unchanged gender imbalance in the 2022 survey for construction and utilities companies, compared with 2021, with just 23 per cent female representation, despite women comprising half of the UK population.
However, the survey figure was better the ONS figure, which shows that women account for just 14 per cent of the UK construction-specific workforce.
The FIR Programme will start collecting data for the 2023 survey in the coming weeks.