UK professional bodies join forces on diversity in construction

Six main professional institutes in the UK construction industry covering construction managers, architects, civil engineers, planners, surveyors and landscape designers – together representing some 350,000 professionals – have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive sector.

Signatories are the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Landscape Institute (LI), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

According to the CIOB’s 2021 Special Report on Diversity and Inclusion, women make up around 12% of the country’s built environment workforce, with only 1 – 2% of the site-based workforce being female.

Only 5-7% of people in UK construction are Black, Asian or from other underrepresented groups, dropping to 1% or fewer among senior industry roles. Less than 3% are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

The institutes agreed to collect data under a standard model to allow comparison across memberships to get an accurate picture of the state of inclusion in the sector; examine the transition from education into employment to understand why students who start institute-accredited courses don’t make it into the workforce; and develop competencies in equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for the sector.

An action plan will be published later this year.

Caroline Gumble, CIOB chief executive, said: “Today’s announcement that we are uniting with our sister professional bodies to support initiatives which break down barriers and reduce the impact of bias is a powerful reminder that, in collaborating and working together, we have the potential to drive positive culture change for our sector, for our communities and society.”

“I am really pleased that we are committing to working collaboratively with colleagues across the sector to ensure we deliver on our EDI commitments,” said RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance. “By combining our efforts to address the systemic barriers that perpetuate discrimination and underrepresentation, we can drive forward change at a faster and more effective rate.”

Victoria Hills, chief executive of the RTPI, said institutes could effect change only by working together. “That’s why it is not only a great pleasure to sign this ground-breaking MoU with our friends, but an honour.”

The MOU can be downloaded here.

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  1. This is absolutely fantastic news and a long time coming. As a diverse Project Construction Director utilising institutes such as CIOB and RIBA is welcoming and sets a future for the built environment more collaboratively. This would have been useful in my past career being both a Chartered designer and construction manager. This now paves the way for all to work more closely together.

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