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Lunch club offends industry leaders with 'sexist' jokes

News :

A LUNCH held by a property and building industry club to discuss the future of construction professions this week came under fire from senior industry figures over the tone of jokes told by an after dinner speaker.

Complaints have stemmed from the Placemakers Club after dinner question time during which guests were regaled with jokes about women and 'dumb blondes' which several guests found offensive and sexist.

Leading consultants, contractors and property firms are members of Placemakers, including Ove Arup, WSP, Bovis Lend Lease, Amec, Costain and Skanska.

CIC chief executive Graham Watts, who attended the controversial lunch on 22 November, said: 'I wouldn't want the CIC to be associated with this kind of event in future.

'I was very surprised and quite shocked to be at a lunch with people laughing away at 'dumb blonde' jokes. I didn't think this was the industry I was working for, ' he added.

CITB public relations manager Peter Griffiths described the tone of the jokes as 'lurid and tasteless'.

He added: 'I was very disappointed that such stories can be told in this day and age at such a function. It flies against all the work we do to promote a positive image of construction.'

Consultant Marike Koppenol, who developed the new government-backed CITB pan-industry 'designajob' website to encourage new recruits to the industry, complained directly after the lunch to Placemakers chairman and founder Alan Bailey.

'I was appalled that an industry which thinks it is suffering from a lack of graduates, women and ethnic minorities, would have such jokes at a dinner.'

'It confirmed what people outside think about the industry.

It was belittling to women and showed no respect in what was like a behind-closed doors boys' club.'

However, Bailey told NCE he intended to continue to tell such jokes in future, despite having received a complaint 'from a blonde lady' after the lunch.

'It is a tradition at Placemakers lunches that we tell jokes.

Some are a bit naughty, but most of the people at the dinner enjoyed it, ' he said.

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