There’s no escaping the issue that’s dominating headlines around the world – and rightly so – the Black Lives Matter movement. We, as an organisation, are not given to overtly political positioning but it’s right to talk about Black Lives Matter and what the CIOB should and could do and say in support of this movement.
The CIOB has, over the years, looked at some bigger issues – bigger than the construction industry – and examined what impact those issues have and how to improve things and move forward. For some, we have been controversial when tackling difficult things like corruption, modern slavery, mental health and social mobility.
We now need to be explicit on where we stand with addressing racism and opposing discrimination. The CIOB is a global community, with members around the world. We want to be clear that we support the Black Lives Matter movement and stand with the black community. But we cannot condone illegal acts and the destruction of property that have been occurring during some demonstrations.
We are an inclusive organisation, always, for every community. We want to see our organisation, our industry and wider society supporting this movement and all ethnic minorities.
We know that our industry and our membership is largely white and male dominated. We also know that there is change emerging, as the younger and newer entrants to our industry are more diverse.
But that’s not enough. From my role as President, I have long argued that we need to show leadership in this area - and others - and now is the time to step up. We need to find ways that we can be a part of making positive change now and in the future.
This means the first piece of work to do is acknowledge where we are as an organisation and make sure we are in the right place to effect any meaningful change we can in-house, and then potentially step into more work externally, hopefully collaboratively, to support the movement in more visible ways.
The CIOB’s CEO, Caroline Gumble, is firmly of the belief that inclusivity and diversity are not optional – she and I have spoken about the need for this to be weaved into everything, that it should be intrinsic, not an added extra. We’ve spoken many times about how feeling excluded and being denied opportunity impacts on mental and physical health, educational opportunities, employment prospects. A lack of diversity can even impact negatively on quality in construction.
We are open to learning, changing and growing. Our Corporate Plan makes a commitment to support a “Talented Community”, including improving the diversity of our membership.
In addition to prioritising that work, we will actively look for opportunities to use our platforms to share and amplify voices of people of colour. We will examine how we can meaningfully and usefully understand more about discrimination and the impact that it has.
We know there’s more we can do and we are not interested in paying lip service to this – we will take the time to work with colleagues and with our community to make and support the changes that are needed.