Construction talks diversity and celebrates inclusion at Inspire Summit and Awards

Inspire Summit 2019 (Demo)

THERE were prizes in the evening, and plenty of lively discussion during the day, as the Inspire Summit and Awards encouraged the construction industry to discuss diversity and inclusion.

Over 200 construction professionals gathered at the Hilton, Deansgate, Manchester, for the Inspire Summit, organised by UK Business Events (UKBE).

Inspire Summit 2019
Marverine Cole.

The event, which was followed in the evening by the Inspire Awards celebrating diversity and inclusion, has quickly established itself as a crucial platform for the construction and built environment sector to debate the issues.

The event, now in its third year, was hosted by journalist and broadcaster Marverine Cole, and was attended by men and women working in construction, as well as students hoping to join the industry.

Creating cultures where everyone can succeed was a focus for this year’s conference, which was split into three sections: personal development, recruitment and retention.

Rebecca Thompson, founder and director of Thompson Heritage Consultancy and fellow and past president of the Chartered Institute of Building opened the conference.

She talked about her experiences starting out in the sector and explained the importance of high ethical standards from professional bodies.

Experts and industry leaders debated a wide range of topics from tackling unconscious bias and implementing inclusive recruitment strategies, to attracting a more diverse workforce for the future and building the business case for diversity.

Fiona Triller, programme director of Creating Inclusive Industries talked about how individuals form social stereotypes about certain groups of people outside of their conscious awareness. “Every single one of us has a bias based on our life experiences,” she said.

Resilience and talent coach, Anthony Taylor asked the audience to think about their personal brand and what it says about them. “We are constantly comparing ourselves to others which can hold us back,” he said.

Mark McBride-Wright, founder of EqualEngineers, talked about positive action and how a more inclusive conversation around diversity can be curated. He also shared some findings from EqualEngineers’ masculinity in Engineering Survey.

There was much discussion among panellists over opening up the industry, breaking down barriers, creating inclusive workplaces and retention of staff.

Inspire Summit 2019
Left to right: Diane Lightfoot, chief executive, Business Disability Forum; Raj Patel, chief executive, Housing Diversity Network; Anil Iyer, director, Kranial Solutions and Katie Kelleher, crawler crane operator discuss creating an inclusive culture at the Inspire Summit .

As with previous events, there was also a focus on the next generation of construction workers with free places at the summit for students.

Several students took part in a panel session led by Julian Buttery, senior employer engagement manager at the Careers & Enterprise Company, where they talked about their experiences in the sector.

“Lots of teachers don’t know a lot about the construction sector and the available roles,” said University of Salford student Racheal Umunna.

A crucial aspect of discussion was around attracting more young people into the industry, as well as how to educate teachers, careers advisers and parents about the breadth of career opportunities available in construction.

“In Europe engineers are classed with doctors and surgeons and given a higher social profile than they are in this country,” panellist Neil Conlon, business development manager at Conlon Construction told delegates.

The conference was rounded off with a session led by Joscelyne Shaw, director of strategy at Mates in Mind, a charity which was set up to raise awareness, address the stigma of poor mental health and promote positive mental wellbeing in construction and related industries across the UK.

Outlining Mates in Minds’ achievements and the work that it has done since it was set up two years ago, she focused on promoting cultures of positive wellbeing throughout the industry.

She told delegates that three out of five employees experience mental health issues because of work and talked about changing behaviours.

The Inspire Summit was supported by the British Board of Agrément, CABE, the CIOB, easy-trim, Housing Diversity Network, the National Association of Women in Construction, Procure Plus, Redrow Homes and RICS.

As well as attending the conference, delegates had the chance to talk to a diverse selection of companies, which were showcasing their work in the exhibition space.

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Inspiring award wins

THE Summit was followed by the Inspire Awards, celebrating diversity and inclusion in UK construction, engineering & housing.

Hosted by Mike Shaft, the event honoured companies and individuals at the forefront of driving change to build a strong and diverse workforce for the future.

Claire Lomas
Claire Lomas at the Inspire Awards 2019.

Guest speaker Claire Lomas, who became paralysed from the chest down in a horse-riding accident in 2007, took to the stage to share her inspiring story.

In 2012 she hit the headlines when she walked the London Marathon in a pioneering robotic suit, taking 17 days and raising £210,000 for Spinal Research.  She was then invited to light the Paralympic cauldron in Trafalgar Square.

The following year, Claire completed her next challenge handcycling 400 miles around parts of England and visiting many schools along the way giving inspirational talks, raising a further £85,000.

She has continued to fundraise, completing the Great North Run and Great South Run courses, and has so far raised over £600,000 for charity.

Hundreds of nominations were received for the awards, which comprised 16 categories, and the independent panel of judges, made up of construction professionals, had their work cut out for them choosing the winners:

The winners of the Inspire Awards 2019
The winners of the Inspire Awards 2019.

Most Inspiring Awareness Campaign

Highly commended – N&C Phlexicare

Winner – Steve Biko Housing Association


Most Inspiring Employment Initiative

Winner – Barratt Developments


Most Inspiring Apprenticeship Programme

Winner – Bolton at Home


Most Inspiring Training Programme

Highly commended – Barratt Developments

Winner – Positive Footprints


Most Inspiring Building Project

Winner – Ty Carreg – The IAD Company


Most Inspiring Community Project

Highly commended – Multiplex Construction Europe

Winner – Arhag Housing Association


Most Inspiring Mental Wellbeing Initiative

Winner – Seddon


Most Inspiring Supplier

Winner – Sovini Trade Supplies


Most Inspiring Consultancy

Winner – Curtins


Most Inspiring Contractor

Winner – Balfour Beatty


Most Inspiring Housing Provider

Winner – Pine Court Housing Association


Most Inspiring Employer

Winner – City Building


Most Inspiring Rising Star

Winner – Irosha Gunatunga – BAM Nuttall


Most Inspiring Role Model

Highly commended – Shuchi Jain – Poise

Winner – Anjali Pindoria, Avi Contracts


Most Inspiring Mentor

Winner – Anjana Raj – Sir Robert McAlpine


Most Inspiring Diversity Champion 2019

Winner – Anjali Pindoria, Avi Contracts


Over £1,200 was raised for the Construction Youth Trust during the course of the evening. The Inspire Awards were sponsored by British Board of Agrément, easy-trim, Procure Plus and Redrow.



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