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Diversity Champion of the Year finalist: Ardmore

Ardmore is one of the UK’s largest family-owned construction companies but is still punching above its weight in terms of diversity.

The company has carefully considered diversity in recent years and realised that it had to embrace a diverse workforce to survive in a competitive marketplace.

Led by employment and skills manager Eillish Kwai, who is also a board member of the Women into Construction (WIC) scheme, and supported by development director Chris Langdon, the contractor has set goals to shift to a more gender-balanced workforce both on site and in the office.

It is already seeing success against this target, taking on 25 full-time employees from the WIC scheme. In addition, 31 per cent of its 2015 new employee intake was female, with 38 per cent of its PAYE employees being women.

It also has three female board members, more than many larger contractors.

Each of its sites has an employment and skills plan to outline the targets and initiatives to be carried out over the life of the project, with these adjusted depending on the needs of that particular site and area.

For example, a large-scale regeneration scheme at Heathside & Lethbridge saw the company target 50 per cent local labour, while the Stratford Halo project saw Ardmore take on 40 apprentices. This allows the team to establish links with a broad cross-section of the community, including people of many different backgrounds.

Ardmore also has a pre-apprenticeship programme with local schools and colleges that enables it to engage with a broader cross-section of the community.

“While gender balance has been a focus, Ardmore is also committed to providing opportunities to LGBT employees, as well as those with disabilities”

One shining example is Shaquan Carmichael, an apprentice from Hackney who joined the company in 2013 after attending an open day at the Pembury Circus project.

He had been out of employment, education or training for more than four years, but was placed into Ardmore’s pre-apprenticeship programme at Hackney College and completed two weeks of work experience at Pembury Circus under the guidance of a mentor.

Now, Shaquan regularly trains other new members of staff on site and in 2014 volunteered as a mentor to students with behavioural difficulties to encourage them to consider apprentices.

It’s also worth noting that Ardmore puts all of its apprentices on PAYE to make them feel like they belong.

While gender balance has been a focus, Ardmore is also committed to providing opportunities to LGBT employees, as well as those with disabilities.

This company has excelled at encouraging women into construction, as well as in other areas of diversity, and continues to excel.

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