Labour Research September 2009

Equality news

Construction fails on ethnic minority staff

An inquiry set up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found that a negative image of the industry and poor recruitment practices are factors that lead to a low number of ethnic minority workers entering the construction industry.

The Race discrimination in the construction industry report noted that ethnic minorities make up 3.3% of the construction industry workforce, compared to 7.9% of the British workforce as a whole.

The report found that word-of-mouth recruitment, a lack of career progression and problems making the transition from training to work, prevent ethnic minorities from getting jobs.

Despite evidence from interviewees that overt racism had declined in recent years, the report said there is evidence that some forms of racist “banter” are still tolerated in pockets of the industry.

EHRC commissioner Kay Allen said: “It should be recognised that the industry is taking steps to increase diversity. There are many positive initiatives and examples of good practice designed to increase representation. However, clearly there is more that needs to be done.”

The report’s 31 recommendations call for a wide range of measures to tackle the problem in terms of training and education, contracting, recruitment and retention.

The commission will report on this next phase of work by January 2010 setting out activities to tackle the continued under-representation of ethnic minorities in the industry.

The report is available at