Objectification and revealing clothing have been banned at a construction trade show following social media backlash.
New diversity rules will be introduced at this years’ UK Construction Week exhibition, which includes the Civils Expo, where stall holders have been told that clothing “must be deemed appropriate for a business event”.
Exhibitors have also been warned that behaviour that could be deemed to objectify promotional staff “as men or women” is “strictly forbidden”.
As well as rules surrounding clothing, businesses have been asked to consider the gender, age and ethnicity represented on the stand, and whether that is reflective of the company’s diversity.
The new rules follow criticism of a Las Vegas themed stall and scantily-clad promotional staff at last year’s event and adds to a wider national conversation about sexual harassment and representation at work.
construction week uk
The guidelines warn that “the consequences of getting it wrong with the proliferation of social media means that a situation can escalate very quickly”.
UK Construction Week UK director Nathan Garnett said: “We want the show to be lively, fun and engaging, and these measures should not be interpreted as restrictions upon that. Promoting a more diverse and inclusive image of construction is a joyful thing.
“But the fear of getting it wrong is holding the construction industry back from a frank conversation about diversity, equality and inclusion.
“We got it wrong last year and faced criticism on social media. So we’re still learning too.”
He added: “No-one can deny that the construction sector has more work to do in this area than most. The business case is clear, the moral case undeniable, so now is the time.”
The rules were created with a steering committee, including Balfour Beatty’s senior planner and LGBT Network co-chair, the Group HR and diversity manager at Willmott Dixon, and diversity and inclusion director at RICS.
Balfour Beatty head of sustainable procurement Aaron Reid said: “It is essential that the industry joins together to ensure that a career in construction is considered an attractive option, and that we grow to become representative of the communities in which we operate.”