Construction company Lendlease is tackling head-on homophobic bullying in the workplace
We believe in bringing people together to foster an environment where everyone is included and treated with respect. We want to change attitudes and make business understand the benefits of an inclusive workforce. Nobody should have to hide who they are.
Having LGBT-supportive workplace policies clearly benefits LGBT employees directly. It reduces stress and anxiety for LGBT employees who don’t feel they have to hide their identities. This means that a LGBT-friendly workplace leads to improved health, increased job satisfaction and better relationships with colleagues. And, more importantly, it is the right thing to do.
Polling by YouGov shows that in the last five years 2.4 million people of working age have witnessed verbal homophobic bullying at work – and more than a quarter of lesbian, gay and bisexual people do not feel able to be open to colleagues about their sexual orientation. And let’s be frank, the construction industry has lot of catching up to do in this area; a survey carried out last year showed that 85 per cent of LGBT workers had faced offensive remarks.
We’ve taken direct steps to address this problem head-on and to encourage an inclusive workforce.
Lendlease has an ongoing relationship with Stonewall, we run a Lendlease Allies Programme, which gives non-LGBT individuals the opportunity to explore what it means to be a role model and the space to identify how they are going to create an inclusive environment for everyone.
Last year we issued 3,000 multi-coloured laces to our building sites across the UK to encourage workers to lace their boots with rainbow colours. This is part of a wider Stonewall campaign which encourages everyone to stand in solidarity and support for inclusion.
In Stonewall’s top 100 list of gay-friendly workplaces, the Workplace Equality Index, the construction and property industry are as yet unrepresented. Lendlease wants to change that, and we’re aiming to be the first in the sector to enter the top 100 in Britain. In Australia, where our global HQ is located, Lendlease is ranked ninth in the Australian Workplace Equality Index, and is the only construction company in the index.
This year’s National Student Pride focused on mental health, which remains a disproportionally prevalent issue for both LGBT people and the construction sector. With this in mind, we recently became the first company in the construction industry to publicly commit to tackling mental health by signing the Time to Change pledge, England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. To date, we have trained over 200 Mental Health First Aiders in the UK, all new starters will receive Mental Health First Aid Lite training as part of Lendlease’s induction process.
We would urge the rest of the property and construction industries to take steps to create a working environment where everyone is free to be themselves, where everyone is included and where everyone is treated with the respect they deserve.
Lendlease is currently working with Southwark Council to deliver a £2 billion regeneration project, on 28 acres of land, across three sites in the centre of Elephant & Castle. Between now and 2025, it will also deliver shops, restaurants, community facilities and a brand new park that will help restore nature in the heart of the city.
Go to: Lendlease.com/uk