Hays UK jobs and employment blog


Is diversity in construction still a priority?

By Gaelle Blake, Director, Hays Permanent Appointments, UK and Ireland

Construction and property was impacted hard by Covid-19. Employers who were able to do so switched to working remotely practically overnight. Priorities shifted, and employers could be forgiven for putting previously major areas of focus, like equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I), on the back burner.

Months on from our first lockdown, we have started to gauge the impact of the crisis on things like ED&I – which we have explored in our new Hays Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 2020 report.

So, is ED&I still a priority?

We found that almost two thirds (63%) of construction and property workers said that when looking for a new role, an organisation’s diversity and inclusion policies are important to them. Furthermore, 59% said they would only apply to an organisation which has a public commitment to ED&I. To professionals, the importance of ensuring diversity in the workplace was never lost, and while employers immediate focus may be shifting, they can’t lose sight of the importance of ED&I to talent attraction.

A further 63% of professionals also said their company should have a position on topical D&I issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement, proving that even or maybe especially now, it is expected for employers to have a clear stance on key issues which speaks to their company values. To fail to do so risks alienating key talent at a challenging time.

The impacts working flexibly

Our Hays Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 2020 report also explores flexible working and how it relates to ED&I, as this has taken on a whole new meaning in today’s climate. The rapid uptake of flexible and remote working practices has had an impact and now nearly half (48%) of those working in construction and property are working flexibly in some way. Encouragingly, the majority (81%) of professionals agreed that access to flexible working practices can help their organisation gain access to a more diverse talent pool.

What employers need to do

In order to not let ED&I take a back seat to today’s other challenges, here are three key recommendations for employers:

  • Make a commitment to ED&I: A diverse and inclusive workforce is no longer a unique selling point to prospective employees. Employers wanting to attract and retain the best individuals need to make comprehensive ED&I policies a core part of their talent acquisition and retention strategy.
  • Promote ED&I initiatives to jobseekers: ED&I policies including flexible working options need to be promoted at key points in the jobseeker journey, such as in job ads and on your organisation’s website, to avoid lowering your engagement with top talent.
  • Tailor your flexible working options: Flexible working isn’t one-size-fits-all. Employers need to realise that it offers huge advantages for some, but drawbacks for others depending on their role, working style and personal circumstances. Try to be mindful of and accommodating to this by remaining open to flexible working for all employees, not just those who are parents or carers.

How employees can take responsibility

Responsibility doesn’t stop with employers, however. All professionals need to play their part in creating a more equal and inclusive workplace. Here are our recommendations for how employees can help keep their organisation’s ED&I agendas on track.

  • Look for an employer’s commitment to ED&I: If you are job searching, make looking for ED&I policies a priority. Organisations who are committed to ED&I are invariably more enjoyable to work for and are more likely to thrive in our rapidly evolving world of work.
  • Think about your working preferences: What do you need to work at your best? Consider what your ideal working arrangement would be and discuss this with your employer. An organisation that truly fosters a diverse and inclusive environment will work with you to figure out a flexible working arrangement which best suits you.
  • Stay adaptable and practical: Try to remain adaptable and practical in light of your employer’s situation and the current circumstances. When discussing ED&I initiatives or flexible working, approach the conversation constructively and focus on how both you and your organisation will benefit.

Only by working as a whole and keeping ED&I commitments front of mind will employers and employees create a working culture that welcomes and celebrates diversity, opening the door to many highly skilled construction and property professionals who can help get your organisation through this significant period of change.

Find out more about flexible working and how it can impact diversity and inclusion in your organisation, request your copy of the Hays Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 2020 report.

About this author

Gaelle joined Hays in 1999, and in her time with the business, she has led dedicated teams providing expert recruitment services for a wide range of sectors and professions. In 2018, Gaelle started her current role as UK&I Director of Hays Permanent Appointments, where she works with 800 Permanent Appointments consultants across the UK and Ireland. She helps organisations to find the talent they need to achieve their goals, and help customers to find the roles they need to move their careers forwards. In July 2020, Gaelle was also appointed as UKI Director of Hays Construction & Property, leading the 300+ recruitment consultants in the largest specialist Construction & Property recruiter in the UK.


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Hays Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020

In our latest Equality, Inclusion and Diversity Report, we explore whether flexible working can help create more diverse workforces and more inclusive workplaces.


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