We must work harder to recruit the top talent in construction, which means having a better variety in terms of age, ethnicity, background and sexuality


Einstein told us that insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Put this into the context of the construction industry and our people; are we expecting better performance and innovation using a narrow-minded approach? If we keep doing things the way we’ve always done, are our creative prospects limited?

With the current demographic in our industry showing that although the total UK labour force is about 48% female, latest figures have shown that only 9% of these women work in the construction industry (with the majority of these women in office based roles, only 2% actually work on site in manual roles). This is without reflecting on other minority groups.

If we embrace diversity with passion, it will enable better chances of generating ideas for improvement

Consider also the success of Silicon Valley, which has arguably some of the best engineering minds in the world: It has been suggested that one of the major reason for its achievements is the cultural mix and the resulting diversity of ethnic traditions, viewpoints, and value systems (both, personal and professional) enriching their environment.

A recent report commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (“Equality and diversity: good practice for the construction sector”) posited that efficiency savings in improved staff retention and enhanced on-site working relationships (based on respect for everyone’s differences) are also benefits of good equality and diversity practice.

If we embrace diversity with passion, it will enable better chances of generating ideas for improvement. Our ability to engage with people at different levels will be enhanced; as is the potential to explore options. The visions and opportunities are multiplied as well as the capacity to adapt.

Our CEO has already recognised that diversity is a catalyst to sustain the pace of change to drive performance in business. We must work harder as an industry to capture top talent. If business principles are set by people and for people in our industries, then to achieve success and adaptability, we need variation in age, gender, ethnicity, background, sexuality and experience.

Chris Millard is business efficiency director at Balfour Beatty