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A Picture of the Current Built Environment Sector

Within this article we evaluate how exclusion and discrimination can impact the workplace.
Current Built Environment, written on a white title card, in front of a teacher and her class.

Under-representation in Built Environment sector: what is the impact of exclusion and discrimination?

It’s hard to miss the subject of equality, diversity, and inclusion today, because of the access to social media in the palm of our hands. The Black Lives Matter movement has racked up a lot of attention since numerous tragedies have taken place in the USA. This has led to many areas of society to look deep into their inner selves, be they global leader, organizations, communities, and individuals.

Globally the sector is short on skilled people and needs to ramp up efforts to attract and retain talent if it wants to continue to maintain the activities of building our natural and living environments to the standards needed.

The demographic profile of the UK’s entire workforce involved in the construction lifecycle, mirrored in other countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, is predominantly white and male, and it is ageing. In the fourth quarter of 2019, just before the pandemic struck, women made up just 12.3% of the country’s construction workforce. Recent estimates of the proportion of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in it have varied from around 5% to 7%, dropping to 1% or fewer among senior industry roles.

Some More Key Statistics

The UK Construction Sector • Women make up 15% of the UK construction industry, with 2% working onsite • Black and Asian employees make up 6% of the workforce • Disabled employees also make up 6% of the workforce • Ageing workforce with 35% >50+ & only 10% between 19-24

Would you come back? If… • You were the only female on-site • PPE doesn’t fit • Tools are designed for men • No toilet facilities • Social expectations • Hostile ‘banter’

The people and skills shortage • 40% companies experience ‘some difficulty’ recruiting construction project managers • 16% encountering ‘severe difficulties’ • CITB reports an extra 217,000 construction workers are needed by 2025

What are the reasons for the poor progression to diverse workforces in the built environments, you may be asking. From our research we can point to several factors. Timewise, described that site-based construction work is particularly challenging to adapt to flexible working, because of the factors such as location-based work, inter-dependent team roles, and the long hours culture created by rigid timeframes and deadlines. This demanding work pattern has been a primary factor to diminishing mental health and overall wellbeing in employees in general.

Discussion Point

  • Please give your perspective on the current built environment demographic in your region or country.
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Diversity and Inclusion in the Built Environment

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