Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Tools to support constructors with ethics

Video introducing how ethics is portrayed in the media for construction, and the areas within construction compliance.
Of course attracting the next generation into the built environment means modernising the industry’s image and not just by improving diversity and technology but by implementing best practice and addressing work ethics. Today we ask what does ethics mean in the construction industry? The collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013 killed more than 1000 workers. A further 2500 were injured. It focussed the world’s attention on the malpractices in the clothing supply chain. British high street stores were using cheap labour amid appalling conditions. More recently BHS has hit the headlines A questionable takeover, followed by liquidation and revelations that its pension fund was £600m in the red. The Chartered Institute of Building says it all comes down to ethics.
“I like to believe that most people don’t turn up to work to do a bad job but in a lot of cases they’re faced with situations which they’re not equipped to deal with. So one of the key areas of focus for the CIOB is to raise awareness of the legal and moral obligations that we have as professionals and then to provide people with the tools to deal with those situations.” Among those tools is a new CIOB Academy training the industry to raise its standards. Holly Walton is leading the charge.
“I know how important ethics is to delivering a great job and I think to have personal standards and values and to stick to them can be quite challenging at times particularly where money is coming into things or you’ve got pressures from clients and so on. CIOB as a whole are about membership and the difference between being a constructor and being a professional comes down to ethics and our own personal values. That is in fact the keystone of CIOB membership.” Maria Coulter agrees having been in the construction industry since the age of 16. She recently launched her own company focus on coaching and training. She’s helped develop the Academy’s new ethics course. “It’s a brilliant industry.
We create fantastic buildings like this one. You get some amazing characters in there but we don’t always know how to communicate with each other in the right way. There’s a lot of mistrust as well and there’s a lot of preconceptions about various roles and how you’re meant to act. What I want to do with this particular course is to really get the message home that ethics is about who you are everyday. It’s not just about whether or not you accept the bottle of whisky at Christmas, or ‘I’ve just read an article about modern slavery,’ or ‘that’s happening somewhere it’s not happening on my site.’ But it’s actually happening everyday in the environment you work in.”
Much like workplace health and safety, industry leaders believe that ethical policy should not be a bolt-on. It should be embedded in all departments and at all tiers of the industry. From the CEO to the site labourer. “Ultimately it is about individual responsibility but our research has shown that good practice starts at board level.” so it’s about setting the right culture for an organisation “It’s also about the social norms in the environment that you work. So that if you go into a workplace and you see banter where do you draw the line between banter and bullying and it’s that everyday behaviour that I want people to think about.” And there’s a financial incentive too.
Rigorous ethical standards are now seen as crucial to long term success. If your company is driven by values and good ethics and people are all in a line and moving in the right direction it will absolutely increase productivity and increase profits. But with so many training providers in the industry why the need for a CIOB Academy?
“When I went out and spoke to industry, what they were saying to me is, ‘what we don’t have is someone that we can go to that’s a one stop shop for everything that we need and someone that we can trust, where we know we’re going to get the right quality and we’re going to get it delivered by people who really understand what it takes to do the job.’ And I think that’s a really big significant difference at CIOB.

CIOB has been developing tools for industry in order to raise awareness of ethical issues, and help industry manage risks. In business, ethical issues falls into two categories: personal and professional ethics. Most of the theories focus on the ethics of an individual, yet in business there is a collective responsibility with the company being the ‘individual’. Increasingly, businesses are expected to behave in a responsible manner beyond just their regulatory and commercial requirements.

It is only is the past three decades that business and ethics have been associated together, underlining the importance of business to society as well as to the client, the project team and the environment. Professional ethics can be led by the business, and in construction are also led by professional membership bodies who hold their members to account through a code of ethics.

Tool kits on ethics are often based on five mechanisms:

  1. What leaders pay attention to, measure, and control on a regular basis.
  2. How leaders react to critical incidents and organisational crises.
  3. How leaders allocate resources, rewards and status.
  4. Deliberate role modelling, teaching and coaching.
  5. How leaders recruit, select, promote and communicate.
This article is from the free online

Construction Ethics and Compliance

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now