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Comment | Taking equality seriously

Adrian Coy

Diversity is an essential part of the civil engineering workforce.

NCE’s survey of attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender engineers working in construction is a cause for concern, as is the content of some of the letters published in recent weeks.

The ICE’s Professional Code of Conduct requires that members must never behave in a way that discriminates against persons because of their race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion, or country of origin. We will investigate any report of discrimination by an ICE member or behaviour that damages the reputation of the Institution. Breach of the Code of Conduct is a disciplinary matter.

We must all recognise that any organisation will be stronger if it can draw from a wealth of different backgrounds and experiences, and will better serve its clients and society if it reflects the diversity of our communities.

The ICE embraces diversity as it pursues four strategic strands to advance the profession so that it is better able to meet global challenges:

  • If we are to inspire and recruit the next generation of civil engineers we must present ourselves as inclusive and diverse
  • If we are to be the foremost qualifying body for professionals in the built environment we must be fair and unbiased in our qualifying processes
  • If we are to demonstrate professionalism and advance knowledge, we should respect, encourage and engage with a broader community
  • And if we are to inform opinion and influence policy we cannot afford to be perceived to be discriminatory or biased in any way.

The Institution is in the process of rolling out a programme of unconscious bias training to challenge and change attitudes on a range of diversity issues. As signatories to the Royal Academy of Engineering

Diversity Concordat we proactively and collaboratively work with kindred institutions to improve the diversity of the engineering profession, and I am delighted that an increasing number of engineering employers are supporting the goals of the Diversity Concordat.

The ICE is also engaged with the CITB’s Fairness, Inclusion and Respect Strategy, working to improve the image of construction.

The attitudes uncovered by NCE’s survey may not be common to all organisations, but the findings of this survey - based on responses from 1,000 people - must be taken seriously by employers and the profession, otherwise we will alienate sections of society that have much to offer civil engineering.

The Institution will tackle any discrimination of which it is aware and will continue to promote diversity as essential to the future strength of our profession.

  • Adrian Coy, is ICE vice president, membership and diversity

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