Is diversity the answer to our problems?
How can an LGBT+ and Allies network improve the construction industry?The benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace have been widely studied and reported on in recent years, and the resulting statistics more than speak for themselves with studies showing that a diverse business can outperform its competitors by a staggering 35 per cent. But this debate is about more than just numbers, and perhaps more importantly, it has also been proven that those who work in inclusive environments display greater commitment, loyalty and satisfaction and have improved working relationships. All of which impacts productivity and the bottom line, so in short it makes good business sense.
One of the key questions to ask in this debate is what exactly we mean by the term ‘diverse and inclusive’. Our response to that would be that it’s not just about gender or ethnicity, or any other particular characteristics, it’s about the different ways in which we view the world, and the different experiences and values that we bring to the table. In short, people can perform better when they can be themselves.
Mace’s vision is to be the industry leader in shaping cities and building sustainable communities but the most sustainable communities are inclusive and thrive on diversity. We need to reflect that to provide a better perspective to our clients and fully understand the needs of the communities where we work.
So that’s the theory of why we should be more diverse, but theory aside, we want to know how this translates more specifically to the construction industry, and the answer doesn’t make great reading. Research shows that only 7% of LGBT+ construction employees would recommend our industry to their peers. This is an alarmingly low number, making it clear that there is a lot of work to be done, and not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because we have much-documented skills shortage and productivity problem right now.
The problem is clear but it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to solving it, or if it can be solved at all. At Mace our first response was to demonstrate our commitment to changing behaviours, but we knew that just putting the policies in place was only half the story, and that if we didn’t start trying to create the right culture to underpin them then it was not going to work. So the natural next step was to set up our Pride at Mace network which gives everyone an open, safe and inclusive opportunity to begin the conversation and get involved with the LGBT+ agenda.
This network has proved so successful that we have started to ask ourselves the question of how an LGBT+ and Allies network can actually improve the construction industry, and this was the exact question we addressed at our recent panel event. So if all this has got you thinking about what exactly the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace are and how it could work for you, then look no further, listen to our podcast to find out.