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Women In Social Housing

Why would diversity and inclusion be of benefit to everyone?

Published on 20th April 2017 by Danna Walker, Architect and Director of Built By Us

We need to make a conscious effort to ensure that we are not missing out on the best talent and that we are giving everyone a chance to become their best selves and contribute fully, regardless of background. This will benefit everyone for the following reasons:

  • More choice – one of the ways in which work could become more inclusive is by encouraging flexible working. Flexible working enables employees to benefit from a range of working patterns such as compressed hours or job sharing.  This allows for a better work/life balance encouraging everyone from Millennials to Baby Boomers into the workplace.
  • More innovation – One of the downsides of working in a monoculture where senior staff recruit new staff who are similar to them is a phenomenon called “groupthink”  defined as:

“The practice of thinking or making decisions as a group, resulting typically in unchallenged, poor-quality decision-making.”

An exciting and challenging aspect of working in the construction sector is the need to work in teams and to problem solve, often under pressure. A lack of diversity, in terms of approach, skills and experience can inhibit a group’s ability to think creatively and reduce opportunities to innovate.

  • Better business – when you a have diverse employees you benefit from a broader array of skills. For example, having multilingual workforce can help businesses expand their customer base and ensure that they better understand the needs of a wider range of client.

D&I not only positively impacts clients as a core business strategy, it is key to attracting and retaining new talent in an increasingly competitive labour market.

For years, diversity and inclusion have often been seen as a “nice to have” rather than a necessity for remaining relevant in a competitive market.  But I believe that if done well, diversity and inclusion could be the “disruption” in people management that the industry has been waiting for.

Creating and reaping the benefits of an inclusive working environment needn’t be hard. While the construction sector as a whole still has some way to go in terms of the levels of diversity, I believe that inclusive strategies can be instigated right now to ensure the current and future workforce feels engaged and valued.

A change will be good for the construction sector, helping to improve its service, its image and ensuring that the industry reflects the society it serves and is fit for the future.

By Danna Walker, Director of Built By Us

DannaWalker image

About the author

Danna Walker, Architect and Director of Built By Us

Danna Walker is an architect and Director of Built By Us, a social enterprise which connects diverse talent to construction businesses. Her career spans over 25 years in the construction and built environment sector, and has encompassed a variety of roles from shop floor electrician, to Architect and strategic projects lead at the Construction Industry Council.

A passionate advocate for the industry, the common thread throughout her career has been a desire to improve the built environment directly as a practitioner, and the industry by making a tangible difference addressing the challenges of accessibility, skills development and improved diversity and inclusion.

As an architect, Danna specialised in regeneration, housing, educational projects and community engagement. She is a mentoring champion and founded the innovative Fluid Diversity Mentoring Programme, designed to provide support for practitioners seeking career progression.

She chaired the RIBA’s equality, diversity and inclusion advisory group Architects for Change (AfC) and is honoured to have been named a finalist in the Precious Awards 2015.

Danna currently serves as an elected board member of the Architects Registration Board (ARB), is a member of the Built Environment and Professional Education (BEPE) Board, and a Trustee of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

Contact details for Danna

Twitter @builtbyusUK (https://twitter.com/builtbyusUK)
Facebook @builtbyus (https://www.facebook.com/builtbyus/)

Website www.builtbyus.org.uk

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