As the largest construction event in the country, we at UK Construction Week (UKCW) pride ourselves on championing diversity in the industry, and since launching the event in 2015 have woven this into the pre-show promotion, at-event content and post-show reviews. One of our first steps when launching UK Construction Week was to establish a Diversity Advisory Group which engaged with some of the most inspiring leaders in this industry from the differing professions in the sector. This formed some of our policies on speaker mix, and which inspired many of the amazing debates and seminars we have had on the subject in our short 3 year history. These debates are beacons of positivity and help put diversity into the main stream media and spotlight. We are 100% committed to this and will be taking this further in 2018. It is why we sponsor the Women in Construction and Engineering Awards, why we were so incredibly proud to sponsor the category at the Construction Manager of the Year Award that brought forward the first female winner in its history.
At this year’s UKCW we were aware of the promotional drive from Easy-Trim put on in the context of their ‘why gamble’ promotional campaign as Vegas style stand with an Elvis impersonator, roulette wheel and giant slot machine and professional female performers in traditional Vegas show girl costume. For those offended by the use of promotional models at exhibitions we would like to stress that we at UKCW do not condone the practice. In this case it was all staged in the context of a Las Vegas theme. Whilst none of us want to return to the days where promotional models were used as marketing method to attract visitors to exhibition stands, the use in this instance was described to us as part of the overall theme along with Elvis and other themed dressed professionals such as Croupiers etc.
Easy Trim have told us that they too are committed to the cause of diversity in construction. They are deeply concerned over the social media reaction to the stand. Jamie Govier, Managing Director of Easy Trim has said:
“We pride ourselves on being a British manufacturer of quality roofing ventilation products. This forms the basis of our #whygamble? campaign, and our stand design and Vegas theme was created to get across the message of using trusted products that won’t let you down. We planned every detail meticulously including life size, fun black jack tables, enlarged real slot machines, neon lights, and professional Vegas show girls, stilt walkers and a very popular Elvis impersonator. Overall the results were fantastic with a high level of visitor engagement from both men and women. Every part of the stand and people on it should be considered together, rather than isolating one element. The professionals who played the role of Show Girls were a part of the Vegas theme, and just as important as the tables and lights and all other parts of the stand. This was our commitment to going the extra mile to deliver the Vegas theme, rather than to use models as some crass way of getting people onto our stand. The volume of people coming to the stand did not change when any of the themed professionals took breaks.
Easy trim have always been promoters and believers in diversity in the construction sector, and I refer you to our Marketing Director, Rachael Gibson’s recent statement on this and the show theme. I apologise sincerely if any element of the stand offended, it was certainly not our intention” .
UK Construction Week offers guidance to exhibitors on a number of industry topics at our exhibitor days, which are well attended. We also offer guidance on how to exhibit in our manuals, and have highlighted the need to consider diversity in the sector when deciding themes and booking staff for the event. It should be noted that from over 650 stands there were some brilliant examples of innovative stands with a diverse mix of professional staff on hand. Indeed it has been heavily noted this year that the effort companies made to deliver engaging, hands-on stands went up a notch, making construction fun, engaging and exciting to see. UK Construction Week has gained a reputation for being a hot bed of innovation and that is something we are proud of and want to grow.
We will put in place a rigorous monitoring system for stands in future years which will include the prohibition of inappropriately dressed staff on stands (male or female). We will strive to continue the work we have done in promoting diversity in the workplace and we apologise if anyone was offended by the content on this particular stand. We will be developing our Independent Diversity Advisory Panel to take a role in this aspect of the event.
We welcome the feedback given through social media channels on this topic and would ask people to contact us directly if they would like further involvement in this area (or any other) at UK Construction Week. Through collaboration and a unified voice, UK construction can make itself heard like never before, shout about its positive impact on our society, and educate the wider population on its importance. Forming part of a wider campaign that harnesses the power of social media and national press to champion our industry, the UK Construction Week blog – Construction Matters – aims to provide an invaluable platform for both industry stakeholders and innovative brands to address the key themes and topics facing UK construction today.
We remain committed to being a force of positivity in the sector, to raise publicity on important topics and inspire those to work in a sector loved by over 2 million professionals.
Below are some of the content UK Construction Week delivered for promoting diversity in construction.
- Increasing diversity in construction points to a better future at UK Construction Week - World Construction Today