The report, commissioned by the Construction Industry Training Board and based on research by London’s Royal Holloway University, paints a shocking picture of racism on site. There is also evidence of racism in offices.
The report canvassed opinion throughout Britain, speaking to 625 black and Asian workers, and 225 organisations, 54 of which were construction companies.
Royal Holloway project manager June Jackson said construction appears to have the lowest level of ethnic minorities of any sector and that this is cause for concern.
Many black people felt it would be difficult to get a job in what they consider to be a white-dominated industry, she said. There was also a fear of racism among black workers, which was backed up by stories they heard from others in construction, she claimed.
“It is important to look beyond the construction industry. The study must be looked at it in a wider context. There is an issue of wider institutionalised racism,” she said.
For example, she said, a black person may be unsuccessful in getting a bank loan to expand their business, proving that it is not just the construction industry that is prejudiced.
Black managers felt they had to do most of their selling work on the telephone or by post … before customers saw the colour of their skin
Examples of racism reported include the culture of banter on site that often extends to racist jokes.
In addition, many of those surveyed felt that black workers were given the worst jobs on site and had to work harder than a white workers to prove themselves.
Black managers in construction also felt that they had to do the best part of their selling work on the telephone or by post, to establish a relationship before customers saw the colour of their skin.
The report calls for the establishment of an industry equal opportunities taskforce. The CITB is discussing potential arrangements with the Construction Confederation and other bodies.
The report cited problems with ethnic minorities getting access to information about work in a predominantly white workforce, where jobs are often gained through word of mouth.