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Leading organisations across construction industry launch coalition to tackle lack of diversity in sector

Construction Inclusion Coalition (Logo)
  • Eleven major organisations across the construction sector have established the Construction Inclusion Coalition (CIC) to improve equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the sector
  • New polling shows nearly half of Brits (46%) say they’d be more likely to actively seek out employment opportunities in the construction industry if it demonstrated a stronger commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Toolstation Managing Director and Coalition Chair Angela Rushforth believes the industry can address recruitment challenges by attracting a more diverse pool of talent
  • New coalition will initially focus on increasing collaboration, networking and knowledge sharing across the sector


London, 21 September 2023 – Eleven leading organisations in the construction industry, representing over two hundred and fifty thousand workers, have united to launch a new coalition that aims to tackle a lack of diversity across the industry.

The Construction Inclusion Coalition (CIC) has been established by CEOs at leading organisations including Aliaxis, Baxi, Bradfords, Highbourne Group, Ibstock PLC, Knauf, Travis Perkins PLC, Wavin, Wolseley, the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) and the National Merchant Buying Society (NMBS), to raise sector standards on equity, diversity and inclusion, with an immediate focus on gender representation in its first year.

The Coalition is being launched alongside new polling which shows that only one third (36%) of British people would feel confident that their female family or friends would be safe and respected if they joined the construction industry. The research of over 2,000 adults also outlines the opportunity for the sector, with nearly half of people (46%) saying they’d be more likely to actively seek out employment opportunities in the construction industry if it demonstrated a stronger commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Construction Inclusion Coalition Chairperson and Toolstation Managing Director, Angela Rushforth says: “There is no doubt that the future of our industry is at risk if we don’t create an environment where all our colleagues feel safe, empowered and confident. I want all young women to see the construction sector as I do – full of opportunity.”

“We aren’t attracting and retaining from a diverse pool of talent, because many think the construction sector is not for them. These are industry-wide challenges that require industry-wide solutions, which is why the Construction Inclusion Coalition has been set up to improve equity, diversity and inclusion. We are calling on businesses across the sector – no matter how big or small – to join our Coalition and commit to taking action in their organisations”.

The construction sector has one of the most rapidly ageing workforces in the UK, with research showing that close to a million construction workers – around a third of the UK’s total workforce – are set to retire in the next ten years.[1] Despite this, the industry is currently only made up of 15% women and 6% from ethnic minority backgrounds[2], and faces challenges attracting and recruiting from a diverse pool of talent.

The organisations involved are urging businesses across the industry to join the initiative and take the Built on Better Pledge. The pledge covers seven areas members commit to working on.

Organisations will work together to enhance the impact of their individual equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, by fostering collaboration and establishing a network to share knowledge and resources across the industry, and co-creating solutions that will make a difference. Progress will be tracked annually and shared in a public report.

The Coalition has been endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council, the leading body which draws together business leaders from across the construction sector and links them with the UK government.

Construction Leadership Council Co-Chair and CEO of Mace, Mark Reynolds says:
“The Construction Leadership Council has long been advocating for businesses and organisations in our sector to collaborate to make our industry more welcoming and inclusive. It is clear that ensuring a consistent approach to equity, diversity and inclusion will be vital for the future of construction, which is why we’re pleased to support the Construction Inclusion Coalition. There is much work to be done, however I am confident that sharing knowledge and raising standards, we can make a meaningful impact across the sector.”

Manufacturing Management Trainee at Ibstock, Isabella Walsh says:

 “I totally understand other women’s concerns about working in construction – I had them myself before I joined as a Trainee Manufacturing Manager. But my colleagues have been so welcoming, many are now good friends. Although things have changed for the better in the last few years, we need businesses in construction to come together to accelerate this change, which is why I think the Construction Inclusion Coalition is so important.”

The Coalition is being launched in front of hundreds of businesses across the construction sector at the Builders Merchant’s Federation annual conference at the Birmingham NEC on 21 September.



About the Construction Inclusion Coalition

The Construction Inclusion Coalition is an industry wide effort with a singular objective to improve equity, diversity and inclusion across the construction industry, to ultimately retain and attract talent, and ensure the longevity of the industry. It has been formed by 11 founding members including: Aliaxis, Baxi, Bradfords, Builders Merchants Federation, Highbourne Group, Ibstock PLC, Knauf, the National Merchant Buying Society, Travis Perkins PLC, Wavin, and The Wolseley Group. The Coalition is endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council, the leading body which draws together business leaders from across the construction sector and links them with the UK government.

Supporting quotes from Construction Inclusion Coalition senior leaders

Baxi Heating UK and Ireland Managing Director, Karen Boswell OBE: “Our sector is a critical part of the construction supply chain, and like construction, we are committed to attracting and retaining leaders from a diverse pool of talent. That means being clear on how we’re offering a desirable career path, where everyone feels respected and valued equally, giving all employees the opportunity for long-lasting and rewarding careers.”

Bradfords Group Chief Executive Officer, David Young: “Doing the right thing has always been at the heart of Bradfords values and we recognise the huge value that having a more diverse and inclusive team can bring to our business.  At Bradfords, we love collaboration, and we’re always learning, so it was a logical step to become a founder member of the CIC at the start of this crucial initiative to ensure that we make construction more attractive to a wider demographic.”

Builders Merchants Federation Chief Executive Officer, John Newcomb: “This is a vitally important initiative for the building materials sector and others that make up the construction industry, which the BMF is proud to support. In common with other traditional industries, we are faced with an ageing workforce, and one that remains predominantly male and pale. As an industry we must act together to create an environment where opportunities are clearly available to a far wider demographic, to attract and recruit from the diverse pool of talent we have in this country.”

Ibstock PLC Chief Executive Officer, Joe Hudson: “When I started my role as CEO for the Ibstock Group nearly six years ago, I set out an ambition to become a reference business for people in the construction industry. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in evolving our culture here at Ibstock – particularly the focus we have placed on diversity and inclusion. However, we recognise that there is so much more to do, and we must continually improve our approach. The Construction Inclusion Coalition stands as a great enabler to collaborate with industry peers as we share, learn and lead together in partnership. As the CIC clearly sets out, an industry-wide challenge requires an industry-wide solution and here at Ibstock we are fully committed to the Built on Better Pledge to help shape our industry for the future.”

Knauf Managing Director, Ian Stokes: “I’m proud that Knauf UK & Ireland have committed to being a strategic partner of the Construction Inclusion Coalition. The future of the industry must include the development of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion agenda – attracting a diverse workforce reflective of the communities we build for is essential for the continued growth of our sector. As part of the coalition we will be establishing a network for sharing challenges, best practices and resources, promoting meaningful change across the industry. By working together, we can build not only houses, hospitals and schools, but also an industry where diversity is celebrated and all feel they belong”.

National Merchant’s Buying Society Chief Executive Officer, Chris Hayward: NMBS is pleased to support the launch of the Construction Inclusion Coalition, and is already taking positive steps to foster an environment that encourages more of those under-represented groups to consider a worthwhile career in construction. Our primary focus is to ensure we have a workforce that reflects a wider gender base, whilst at the same time embracing those from ethnic minority backgrounds. In particular, we genuinely believe that we can offer a real purpose to young people who aspire towards making a difference and what better way of creating an enduring legacy, than a career in the built environment”.

Wavin Head of People, Jocelyn Walker: “Wavin are delighted to be a founding member of the CIC. We look forward to connecting with other like-minded businesses, sharing best practice and making huge strides in the area of DE&I.”

Wolseley Chief Executive Officer, Sam Oakland: “Being a founding member of the Construction Inclusion Coalition is just one aspect of Wolseley’s commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Attracting a more diverse range of people to the construction sector is fundamental to the future of our industry. We will only achieve our shared goals around inclusion by working with our customers and partners across the wider construction sector.”

Further information about polling

Portland Communications conducted an online survey with 2,009 members of the UK public aged 18+, between 24th and 27th July 2023.

All data were weighted to be representative of the UK population on age, gender, region, social grade and ethnicity.

Portland Communications is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Be part of the solution
To join the Coalition, or find out more, please get in touch.

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