The LGBT+ Construction Working Group, known as #BuildingEquality, was the idea of HR professional Gary Coetzee who saw the need for the industry to come together to tackle homophobia and encourage more LBGT+ people to consider working in the industry. Established in 2015 #BuildingEquality has increased its reach, with 14 more companies joining original founders Arup, Balfour Beatty and Lendlease. The group recently participated in National Student Pride, the largest LGBT+ careers fair in the UK, to encourage students to consider opportunities in the sector.
An industry survey has revealed that half of all LGBT+ construction employees have heard homophobic or transphobic insults in the workplace in the last 12 months. For LGBT engineers this figure increased to 60 per cent.*
Gary Coetzee, Chair of #BuildingEquality: “Our industry has made progress, but still too many people feel unable to be themselves in the workplace. We need leaders to accept that homophobia remains a problem for employees and to speak out against it. Being here at Pride in London gives us an important opportunity to talk about what we have achieved but, most importantly, what is still needed.”
Zach Wilcox, Arup Connect Out Chair: “A diverse and inclusive workforce in the construction and engineering industry is important to create buildings and plan places for people from all walks of life who use them. #BuildingEquality is working to make sure that LGBT+ people can share their unique perspectives at work as well, so we are designing buildings and creating cities that reflect our diversity.”
Jo Hennessey, WSP VIBE (LGBT+ employee network) committee member said: “It’s important that we tackle head on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia at every stage of a construction project. LGBT+ inclusion is not just about making workplaces more inclusive, it’s about transforming the industry as a whole to enable more diverse perspectives, more creativity and ultimately better performance. This is one of Building Equality’s next initiatives and we look forward to working together with the other member companies and our supply chain to embed LGBT+ inclusion from design to delivery.”
Notes to editors
* Research conducted by NCE and sister publications in 2015 see article for details.
About Building Equality
Building Equality is a group of companies championing LGBT-inclusion within the UK construction industry. We are construction companies, consultants, contractors, designers, engineers, and property developers. We’re committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all LGBT+ people working within, or looking to join, the industry.
Our members are AECOM, AmecFoster Wheeler, Arcadis, Arup, Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Betchel, BuroHappold Engineering, Carillion, Gleeds, Interserve, Kier, Laing O'Rourke, Lendlease, Mott Macdonald, Skanska, WSP.
WSP is one of the world's leading engineering professional services consulting firms. We are dedicated to our local communities and propelled by international brainpower. We are technical experts and strategic advisors including engineers, technicians, scientists, architects, planners, surveyors and environmental specialists, as well as other design, program and construction management professionals. We design lasting solutions in the Property & Buildings, Transportation & Infrastructure, Environment, Industry, Resources (including Mining and Oil & Gas) and Power & Energy sectors as well as project delivery and strategic consulting services.
With 7,800 talented people in the UK and more than 42,000 globally, we engineer projects that will help societies grow for lifetimes to come. WSP has been involved in many high profile UK projects including the Shard, Crossrail, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Manchester Metrolink, M1 Smart Motorway, the re-development of London Bridge Station, and the London Olympic & Paralympic Route Network. www.wsp.com/uk