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Diversity Means Business

Posted: 10th September 2015

Bridget Bartlett

CIOB Deputy Chief Executive

CIC Diversity Panel Chair

Talk to any successful construction business and you will find a company that is not only technically competent but one that is adaptable. Construction is inherently a business based on solving unique problems. Those who can implement the best ideas tend to be the businesses who are most successful.

On the flip side if your business is narrow in its thinking, so set in its ways that it’s inflexible then you limit your capability for innovation and for attracting the next wave of talent.

There are still far too many narrow minded construction companies out there, and that has to change because the whole industry suffers. It’s not good for our public profile and it’s not good for productivity. Good ideas don’t just come from one type of person they come from people with different perspectives and backgrounds, collaborating and learning new things from each other. That exchange, openness and sharing of knowledge is something the social-media-heavy next generation expect.

Construction needs to create the right inclusive environment to attract and retain the breadth of talented individuals that will ultimately solve some of the biggest urban challenges we face in our future.

Inherently we all know diversity is a good thing. But there is also much evidence about what it means to a business’s bottom line too. In research conducted earlier this by global management consultant McKinsey & Company they found that companies in the top quarter for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry average. For those in the top quarter for gender diversity they are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their industry average. In other words diversity means business.

So the message has to be if you want to run a prosperous construction firm well beyond the short term then don’t look at diversity as a nice-to-have. That mind-set has to change, it has to be more than just a strategic objective and more about a corporate mentality. After all clients of construction are just as diverse as the rest of society.

McKinsey & Company research, 'Why Diversity Matters':

DWP See Potential Campaign:

Contributor: Bridget joined the CIOB as Chief Operating Officer in November 2008 and is responsible for the Institute’s Operations team, a portfolio which includes, education, examinations, membership services, international development and IT. Bridget is also Chair of the Construction Industry Council's Diversity Panel