An inspiring group of 61 role models from across construction industry professions and trades helped set the tone for the first day of UK Construction Week (UKCW) in London yesterday, with an impassioned call for culture change in the industry, including increased inclusivity and the end of construction’s gender pay gap which is among the worst of any sector in the UK.
Speaking at the reception to celebrate the shortlist of UKCW’s Role Models for 2022, Christina Riley, senior planner at Quinn London and last year’s winner of the Role Model of the Year award, said:
“Things are changing, but we still need much more visibility around women in construction, LGBTQ+ people, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities. I want to see more industry collaboration around inclusivity – bigger campaigns, bringing together the excellent work of UK Construction Week with initiatives from the CLC, CIOB, RICS and others.”
Michaela Wain, director of Design and Build UK and finalist in BBC The Apprentice in 2017, said:
“When it comes to culture change in construction, I don’t want colleagues to ‘understand me’. Just pay me the same, treat me the same, and crack on. Stop all the pleasantries and platitudes. Get rid of the gender pay gap and show women that they can earn good money in this industry.”
UKCW’s Role Models campaign seeks to recognise the unsung heroes and talented professionals in the construction industry and showcase the many varied career opportunities within it, attracting others into similar roles by sharing inspiring stories and career journeys.
The shortlist for this year includes individuals from all sectors of the industry, from architecture, engineering and construction technology to project management and property development. All will go forward to the final of the awards scheme at UKCW’s Birmingham show (4-6 October 2022) at the NEC.
Among the nominees are Russell Durnford, a project director at Tilbury Douglas; Charlotte Edwards, a property developer and director at Dennis Edwards Homes; Ayesha Kaur, architect at Intervention Architecture; Teik Tan, supply chain lead at Balfour Beaty; Jenny Rohde, innovation specialist at Innovate UK EDGE; Marzia Bolpagni, head of BIM International and associate director at Mace, and Rebecca Rickwood, chief executive of Gement.
The UKCW Role Models campaign provides both personal and wider community benefit, offering opportunities to visit schools and colleges, a public platform and blog to talk about their careers, what it entails, their journey so far, and most importantly, why they love what they do.
There was a similar straight-talking style on the UKCW Main Stage on day one of the show, which saw a packed crowd for the keynote session with Lord Greenhalgh, the Minister of State for Building Safety and Fire, Dame Judith Hackitt and Amanda Long, who leads the industry’s Building a Safer Future (BSF) Charter. All three reminded delegates about the new accountability that will come from the new Building Safety Act which passed into law last week, and they too called for faster progress on industry culture change.
Dame Judith Hackitt told the audience:
“Almost five years ago, with the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the construction industry lost a huge amount of public trust and confidence. Rebuilding that is down to you. The Building Safety Act is now law, but no legislation can do this for you. We need you to step up. We need new talent, new thinking, a preparedness to challenge, new frameworks and new ways of working. And we need schemes like BSF to recognise and reward those who are doing the right thing.”
Other highlights from the day included dozens of presentations and CPD sessions covering Net Zero and carbon reduction, retrofit, digitalisation, public procurement, social value, recruitment and retention, stamping out modern slavery, and improving diversity, health and wellbeing. More than 300 exhibitors launched new products or set out special offers, prize draws and promotions for trade buyers.
UK Construction Week continues until Thursday 5 May at ExCeL, London, creating the construction industry’s biggest marketplace under one roof and a major opportunity for networking and new business.
It’s not too late to register to attend. For a free ticket, which also includes entry to Grand Designs Live, Green Living Live, the Offsite Show and other co-located events, go to: https://ukcw-london-2022.reg.buzz/pr.
Download a copy of the show preview guide at: https://bit.ly/UKCWLDN22previewbrochure
To help boost the networking opportunities, also download the free UKCW app from both iOS and Android app stores to book one-to-one meetings with delegates and exhibitors.