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Diversity and inclusion is a business imperative

It was a great honour to win both the Judges’ Supreme Award and the inaugural Diversity Champion Award at the Construction News Awards recently. Everybody at Skanska is very proud of this achievement.

As an industry we have a huge challenge ahead to deliver major projects in a sector where skills are short.

“We want to attract people from different backgrounds, who share our values and have an open and collaborative approach”

To address this, we are thinking differently

As well as people with traditional skills, we also want to attract people from different backgrounds, who share our values and have an open and collaborative approach.

Over the past few years, we have been undergoing quite a transformation, establishing diversity and inclusion as a fundamental part of our DNA – in the same way as health and safety.

You’ll soon be able to go to any one of our projects and see a diversity and inclusion plan. This will show how we’re engaging our people, recruiting in a way that embraces differences, and how we’re working with local communities.

Plans of action

Our approach to diversity and inclusion is core to our people strategy and brought to life by an action group championed by one of our managing directors.

We’ve put in place programmes to create opportunities to recruit people from diverse backgrounds, combined with support to help them thrive when they join.

We are working hard to create environments where people feel valued and are able to contribute fully and reach their potential.

By nurturing a more inclusive culture it is enabling us to fully embrace diversity – we see this as putting the ‘I’ before the ‘d’.

This has included putting mentoring schemes in place, providing flexible working environments, setting up network groups and pre-employment training.

“Extending our diversity and inclusion efforts means we can create an open and welcoming environment, allowing us to work together much more collaboratively”

This is helping us to become better placed to address the needs of our customers, our people, and the communities in which we work.

We are also committed to improving diversity and inclusion across our industry.

Through the Supply Chain Sustainability School, which we co-founded, we provide our supply chain with access to modules on ethical business, including workshops on fairness, inclusion and respect.

Extending our diversity and inclusion efforts means we can create an open and welcoming environment, allowing us to work together much more collaboratively.

Changing perceptions

In Nov 2015, Construction News, in association with Skanska, serialised a skills supplement, covering diversity in the workforce, Skanska’s own inclusion culture, as welll as a number of features, video interviews and analysis.

Find a full round-up of what we covered, and some of the feedback we received from an industry passionate about improving diversity.

For Skanska, diversity and inclusion is not an initiative, it has been ‘hard-coded’ into our business plan with everyone having a role to play in pushing forward the cultural change.

This is not only helping to make Skanska a great place to work, it is enabling us to deliver our purpose – to build for a better society.

Harvey Francis is executive vice-president of Skanska UK

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