Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Construction Knowledge Circles For Women – What they are and why you should attend.

For the past four years we have been running management and leadership courses for women in construction and whilst our blog on why women need separate management and leadership training can tell you why the training is important this blog aims to look at why you should consider not only attending Construction Knowledge Circles but paying for them yourselves.
Whilst I have adored delivering training for women around management and leadership in construction the day long, employer led  nature of these workshops caused me concern for a number of reasons.
1.       The majority of the courses I ran for women around management and leadership were funded, this meant that only certain women could attend and once they had used their funding allocation they were no longer viable to attend further courses. Whilst something is  better than nothing and many women did benefit , we also felt that this excluded groups of  women and let down others who needed more support.
2.       The training usually depended upon how enlightened the employer was. It was usual to encounter individual women asking me to deliver this training in their organisations only to be told by the HR department that it was not relevant to their staff. This lead to some women feeling the right support was not being provided and their voices were not being heard. It’s important to say that some HR departments were the opposite encouraging women who were at first apprehensive about attending*
3.       The funding was dependent upon what the provider wanted and not always what the individual needed, there’s a lot of presumed barriers in the industry which sometimes lead to a lot of women feeling patronised and misunderstood – further isolating them from the support that should be helping them excel.
4.       When the funding stops –it all stops. I have seen many wonderful organisations set up to support women fold due to lack of funding. This not only leaves a hole where advice once was but can leave people feeling let down and unimportant.
5.       Most funding stipulates training must take place in the day – yet as women in construction we know how difficult it can be to get away from work especially if the training is seen as a fluffy women only event.
These reasons plus the many many emails and messages we have received over the years asking for more advice, support and guidance to achieving great careers in construction inspired us to set up Construction Knowledge Circles. Whilst we know that £20 can be a lot have a look at our reasons for charging you and not seeking funding.
1.       By paying as an individual it ensures no one else can pull the funding – as long as enough women are interested we can continue to provide the workshops.
2.       Because we are not at the mercy of a funding provider we can deliver the training you need. Whilst it’s not possible to please everybody all of the time we endeavour to consult and work with members to achieve what is best for them.
3.       By paying for the CPD this means we can ensure each workshop is of high quality and designed for your needs, we want to give you what you need, not what we can get on the cheap.
4.       Having worked in the sector for over ten years and spent a further four researching the management and leadership barriers that women face we really understand what might be holding you back and what you need to do to move forward.  We will not patronise you or demand you do everything we tell you, we will simply tell you what we know and help you make choices that suit you – we are well aware that every individual and workplace is different.
5.       With your buy in we can run courses regularly so you know when they are and can plan your lives around them.
6.       Last but not least. We think it’s important we are paid for our time and would be a little insulted if you didn’t think so too!
If your interested in finding out more please get in touch or go straight to our website and book yourself on to the next course!
Happy Building
Chrissi x

NB For those men who wish to attend, let me know I’m looking into the idea of holding mixed workshops alongside female only ones if the need is there.
*A strange occurrence, the apprehensive women usually left the best feedback after the sessions.

Monday, 4 April 2011

How will the new equality duties affect me as a construction firm? Five things construction firms should know about the new legislation.

From the 5th April the new equality duties come into force.  I know that for some of you the idea of additional legislation is not an attractive one, whilst for others diversity is something you have been looking to improve for some time.  Personally I hope that the legislation helps organisations to see the benefit of a well managed diverse workforce.
Given that your day jobs are mostly in construction not equality I am going to write this blog for the layman in an attempt to give you a running start.
So here are my five things construction firms should know about the new equality duties.
1.       Whilst all the equality legislation is under one banner now (Equality Act 2010) there are parts of the legislation that affect everyone (More familiar as the old Sex discrimination act, Race relations act etc) and parts that only affect the public sector and its subcontractors these are known as the equalities duties. When the equality duties came in (around 2007) they only affected Race, gender and disability. The main change to the duties that comes in on the 5th is the fact that the duties will now cover eight of the nine protected characteristics (things that by law we cannot legally discriminate against) these are Age, Disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation*.
2.       It is the duty of the public sector to tell you as a subcontractor that you are required to comply with the equality duties. If they don’t make this clear you do not have to comply and they can be held to account for that.
3.       The purpose of the equality duties is to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment, and to actively promote equality. The main point of the equality duties is that you should be being proactive and this is what the public sector will now be looking for in your tender documents under E&D. Where traditionally you will have seen questions asking what you have done the duties will push public sector to ask you what you will do.
4.       What should you do? No one is expecting you to have a diverse and equal workforce by the end of the week, the aim is more to get you moving by showing this is an area that you are taking seriously.  Of course some of you will have very little budget – again don’t worry a lot of the initial work can be done with relatively small resources.  The two most important things currently that tenders will be looking for (please note this is open to change dependent upon the client) is that you are following their recognised processes. This means that you monitor your workforce and that you implement Equality impact assessments on your policies and procedures. Information regarding both of these areas is available on the web; we have links under resources on our website and have previously written a blog regarding equality impact assessment within construction. If you need further help feel free to send us Blog Q.
5.       Get your staff up to date with the changes, after all this isn’t just about playing lip service well managed equality and diversity improves profit and productivity – this is the message that you should be sending out to your staff from the top down. Make sure you can provide training that understands the concerns of your staff and takes them seriously; this can be a scary area for some and if these initial reservations are not dealt with the message will not be embedded.
We have put together a small survey to find out what solutions you need to meet the duties, if you enjoyed this blog please take a few minutes to fill it in so we can continue to help you meet your objectives.


* Marriage and civil partnership is the only protected characteristic not covered by the equality duties.