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Conference to tackle homophobia in construction

A conference to raise awareness of homophobia and transphobia in construction has been organised following research which found that many gay men and women in the sector experienced workplace homophobia.

The conference has been organised by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights charity Stonewall and is the first ever that specifically looks at the wider construction and property sector.

It follows an investigation into the experiences of LGBT employees in construction earlier this year, led by New Civil Engineer, Architects’ Journal and Construction News. The investigation found that more than 80% of gay men and women in some parts of the industry encountered homophobic comments in the prior year. Onsite, only 14% of gay employees felt comfortable being open about their sexual orientation and only 10% would recommend the industry to gay men and women.

Stonewall’s representative for the built environment sector and organiser of the conference Matteo Lissana said: “The report highlighted the difficulties gay and transgender employees face in the industry. Construction lags behind many other industries in terms of LGBT rights, and it’s time to bring these problems into the open.”

He added: “Many organisations within the industry are working hard to push LGBT equality. However, homophobia is still a big problem, especially on construction sites, while the lack of trust and openness in some workplaces will undoubtedly have an effect on job satisfaction levels and productivity.”

Speakers will include Christina Riley, a senior planner at Balfour Beatty and a transgender employee who transitioned while working at the construction firm, and Martin Coyd, regional head of environment, health and safety at Lend Lease, who has been active in promoting diversity at the infrastructure firm – including getting more than 1,000 site workers to wear rainbow-coloured laces to support Stonewall’s ‘Rainbow Laces’ campaign in sport.

The conference Building an Inclusive Environment will take place on Monday 30 November. The free event will be held at Lend Lease in Triton Street, London.

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