Most top construction executives are unconcerned about the lack of women and people from ethnic minorities in the industry, according to a survey by accountant KPMG
Sixty-eight per cent of those surveyed said they were not worried by the under-representation of women, and 78% said they were not concerned by the under-representation of ethnic minorities. Despite this, more than 90% regarded skills shortages as a major problem.

The bosses' attitude drew criticism from the Commission for Racial Equality. Vas Patel, head of private sector policy, said: "The results are very disappointing. They suggest that those at the top are still refusing to take the under-representation of ethnic minorities in the construction industry seriously."

Patel added that there was a strong business case for increasing the racial diversity of the construction workforce. He said: "The building industry simply cannot afford to ignore this pool of talent any longer. Successive research projects have shown that despite the fact that the number of ethnic minority construction trainees far exceeds the national average, very few go on to forge careers in the industry."

The industry cannot afford to ignore this pool of talent any longer

Vas Patel, Commission for Racial Equality

Patel warned that contractors would have to change their attitudes to satisfy clients and powerful industry bodies. He said: "Given that clients and other agencies like the Construction Industry Training Board are demanding greater social responsibility from their contractors, we would have hoped that bosses would have wised up to the economic benefits by now."

Julie Mellor, chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, also emphasised the business case for a more diverse workforce. She said: "Those 32% of executives who are worried about the under-representation of women are ahead of the game. Their businesses will reap the benefits of that foresight."