After attending this year’s London Build, the UK’s leading construction and design show, Marcus Hill, Head of Facilities Management at Retearn shares his key conference takeaways on how the construction industry has moved from a focus on “bricks and mortar” to a greater focus on diversity, sustainable procurement, well-being and the role procurement has in championing these issues.
1: Inclusion starts with an I
The panel discussion on Diversity was by far the best attended session with standing room only!
Chaired by Christina Riley, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Kier Group she was joined by other panellists from Mace, The London Borough of Lambeth, VolkerWessels UK, A Traffic Signal Engineer who managed to overcome her disability (having had her leg amputated when she was a child) to become a Highways Engineer with Amey .
Covering all aspects of diversity it was clear that this is a key issue that modern day organisations need to address better with open dialogue and good communication central to deal with the range of prejudices and unconscious biases that exist when it comes to racism, homophobia and wider LGBT+ matters in the workplace.
2: Don’t buy cheap, unless you want to buy twice
No surprise, but a relentless focus on quality in construction is paramount – this was a theme championed in a session presented by Gary Edwards – Head of Engineering from the Royal Household. Gary has had a fascinating career working on many flagship UK projects and is currently working at Buckingham Palace. Gary passionately talked about how lifecycle costing is key and there should be a relentless focus on attention to detail and not selection based on the lowest initial price. A need for accuracy and not engineering down to a price should still be the guiding principle, as procurement professionals in Retearn, we are acutely aware of this.
3: Don’t let the small things build and build and impact on mental health
Or as Chrissi McCarthy managing director of Construction Equality Ltd who led this session shared – it can be the “last camel that breaks the camel’s back”
Chrissi’s passion for the social and economic impact of the construction industry led her to create Construction Equality Ltd, a consultancy with the aim of advancing diversity in the construction industry. She shared how she is developing new approaches to overcoming inappropriate behaviour in the workplace through the Duck project. Its key focus is on how emotionally draining exclusion and prejudice, be it direct or indirect effects individuals in the workplace along with strategies companies can adopt to overcomes this.
4: Procurement must play a key role in eliminating modern day slavery
The facts shared by the panellists (which included Helen Carter, Lead Consultant for Sustainable procurement, modern slavery and human rights, a Legal Counsel for a large infrastructure project in London and a Project Manager from “Buy with Confidence” – part of Trading Standards.) were
sobering to say the least.
The official estimate is that over 13,000 people in the UK are victims of modern slavery but the actual figures are hard to define as modern slavery still sits under the radar and could be as high as 100,000 and globally is estimated to affect over 40 million people. When the Modern Slavery Act first came in to being, it was based on the theory that it is largely an overseas problem and if tackled from the top down it will be reduced or eliminated.
The reality however is very differentas recent shocking events demonstrate. It is a global and not a UK issue as witnessed recently with the death of over 39 Vietnamese civilians found in a lorry in Essex. Modern Slavery exists from the bottom up with small business ranging from cleaners, kitchen porters as well as the more publicised professions such as nail bars and car washes impacted.
To tackle Modern Slavery, procurement functions and leaders must:
• play a key and active role in tackling and supporting its elimination through robust policies, processes and planning
• assess their whole supply chain and not just the companies they contract with
• ensure they have open dialogue and clear communication channels
• learn to spot the signs and confront it, using the myriad of resources that are available for example the Modern Slavery Helpline, Website and App.
Marcus Hill is Head of Facilities Management Consulting at Retearn. He is a seasoned Insourcing and Outsourcing Facilities Management expert and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building and a member of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (formally known as BIFM).
We have experience and expertise to help clients with insourcing facilities management be it a full insource or a partial insource to reflect your business needs. To find out more about facilities management click here, or contact Marcus on the number below or via LinkedIn.