Black History month is designed to raise awareness of the contributions that black people have made by highlighting the achievements of notable black people in various fields throughout history.
This year, the theme of Black History Month is ‘Time For Change: Action Not Words’. We are being encouraged to come together and take action, because by coming together, we can make a change for the better.
Black History Month is an opportunity to recognise the positive influence black people have in our communities, schools and workplaces, but also recognise the challenges that black people face every day. It is an opportunity to reflect on how far we still have to go when it comes to equity and diversity.
The construction sector underpins our economy and society. Few sectors have such an impact on communities and have the potential to provide large number of high skilled and well paid jobs. It touches all of our lives. According to the UK’s Governments data 14% of the working-age population comes from BAME background but only 6% are employed in the construction sector. The stats show the industry is unrepresentative of the UK population and is missing out on many talented people and we’ve been researching how workplaces and organisations in the construction sector are turning words into action to develop a diverse workforce.
J.Murphy & Sons know that the key to success is making Murphy a fulfilling and diverse place to be, so their people strategy focuses on creating a great place to work where everyone, regardless of background, feels secure and comfortable to be themselves.
Embodying this year’s Black History Month theme of ‘Time for Change: Action not Words’, Dawn Moore, Group People and Communications Director at Murphy, was involved in the development and implementation of the Inclusive Employers Toolkit back in 2020, speaking at the launch event with Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London.
Dawn says, “We developed the Inclusive Employers Toolkit to help companies increase the recruitment, retention and progression of young black people within their workforces by equipping employers with practical tools and examples of good practice.
“Since its launch, Murphy has used the toolkit ourselves to support the recruitment of a range of other under-represented groups and are delighted to say that Murphy now has 25% of our employees from groups that are traditionally under-represented in the construction sector.”
Examples of where the toolkit has been used include in Murphy’s apprenticeship recruitment, which in 2022 saw the business recruit its largest intake ever of over 70 apprentices across the group. The business was also the first construction company to take an active role in the UK government’s Kickstart Scheme to create jobs for 16-24-year olds – with over 50 opportunities made available via the Kickstart scheme.
Dawn says, “We recognised that the construction sector was an area that may previously have seemed off limits to some under-represented groups so have worked hard to ensure that as few barriers as possible exist to people joining us.”.
“A big part of this support is the development and roll out of our unique One Murphy BIG Inclusion programme. This is not training, but a bespoke programme being rolled out to all our employees which involves them proactively by asking them for their input and aligning with our goals to turn our strategic commitment to inclusion into real and lasting change. We began this programme nearly 18 months ago and it continues to go from strength to strength, with cohort number 12 having recently started the programme.”
J Murphy and Sons is a positive example of a company putting words into actions and developing initiatives that create a lasting impact and a better future for the black community by supporting diversity, equity and inclusion.
Starting at the grass roots, The Construction Youth Trust in 2021 launched an initiative to kick start the careers of young Black men aged between 16 and 25. Through construction focused employability interventions, the Construction Youth Trust aims to expose young people to the incredible breadth of careers available across construction and the built environment, and support them to make a successful transition into it. Participants take part in employer-led talks and events, work experience, and focus groups. Focus groups are held to explore the experiences of the young people on the programme. The programme has been centered on meaningful and relevant employer engagement to maximise the outcomes of the those involved.
It’s encouraging to see companies and organisations moving their support of black communities from words to actions and developing initiatives that go beyond simply supporting Black History Month but create a lasting impact. We are most empowered when we empower each other and those seeking to create a better future for the black community by supporting diversity, equity and inclusion is uplifting to see. Many of us already know that diverse voices, diverse viewpoints and diverse experiences are good for business, therefore by truly establishing a diverse workforce at all levels makes sense and more companies and organisations need to focus on actions and not words and commit and invest in meaningful change.
Here a three simple way in which you can do something positive and make a positive inclusive workplace.
- Seek positive and meaningful change and not one-off quick fixes by putting in long term plans.
- Engage with groups like The Construction Youth Trust to help grow your business in an inclusive way and learn from companies in the sector like J Murphy and Sons.
- Inclusivity doesn’t just come from hiring more BAME people: ask BAME people already within your organisation what you could be doing better
Department for Work & Pensions – Local Enterprise Partnerships and BME workers: A practical guide to addressing skills challenges
J Murphy and Sons believes in equal opportunity and the value of being inclusive. For more information visit: Equality, diversity & inclusion – Murphy Group
BPIC Network is a built environment inclusion business working with industry organisations to improve ethnic minority representation as well as retention. The Business Case | BPIC Network