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Largest UK Employee Diversity Survey Outcomes Revealed

Largest UK Employee Diversity Survey Outcomes Revealed
17 January 2024

A survey of over 526,000 people working in the built environment has revealed ongoing challenges in the sector’s progress in making an inclusive environment that is representative of the UK population.

The survey has tracked data on protected characteristics in the built environment space since 2016. The 2023 results show an increase in participation, with a 55 per cent surge in employees covered and a 99 per cent rise in participating companies compared to the previous year.

Let’s take a look at what 2023’s data indicates:


Persistent Data Gaps Around Disability


The survey appears to indicate a persistent data gap around disability compared to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures. 2.8 per cent of employees declared that they had a disability in 2023, an increase from 2.4 per cent in 2022 and 2.2 per cent in 2021, but still far behind the ONS’ value of 17.8 per cent. 

The “prefer not to say” option increased from 3.2 per cent in 2022 to 6.5 per cent in 2023, perhaps indicating that people feel uncomfortable disclosing their disability or not knowing that they have a disability at all. 

Commonly, people with dyslexia, ADHD and autism go undiagnosed or do not consider this as a disability. A LinkedIn poll conducted by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) on how comfortable neurodivergent people are at disclosing their condition at work showed that 70 per cent of respondents hadn’t told their employer and 72 per cent would not declare it on a job application.


Representation of Ethnic Minority Groups in the Workforce Decreased


Despite constituting 52.5 per cent of industry applicants, the representation of ethnic minority groups in the workforce decreased year-on-year slightly to 13.6 per cent, trailing 5 per cent below the ONS UK population average.

2023’s ethnicity pay gap data is limited as only 15 organisations reported it. 442 organisations stated that they do not have the data and have no intention of collecting it and 92 organisations said they intend to collect this in the future. 


More Women are Working in the Built Environment 


The percentage of women working in the built environment has sat around the 23-24 per cent mark since 2016, but 2023 figures show a significant rise to 29.1 per cent. This is the survey's most significant rise in seven years, however this is still much lower than the ONS’ value of 50 per cent.

When looking at the percentage of women in SME sectors, facilities management (43.8 per cent), central government (29.6 per cent), and rail (34 per cent) are leading the way with percentages above the 2023 industry benchmark.

The representation of non-binary/ gender non-conforming people was 0.024 per cent in 2023, and it appears to be the first year that this option was available as an answer. Previous year’s have recorded options from: men, women, unknown and "prefer not to say". Comparisons to ONS data are difficult because the first census which asked people about their gender identity was not until 2021. What we do know is that 45.7 million people (94 per cent of the population aged 16 years and over) were asked about their gender identity in 2021, 0.06 per cent identified as non-binary and 0.04 per cent wrote in a different gender identity.

Cathryn Greville, Head of Fairness, Inclusion and Respect at Supply Chain Sustainability School, said: “The survey demonstrates the critical importance of quality data in addressing equity, diversity and inclusion issues across the built environment sector. Without relevant data, organisations simply cannot identify, understand and address the real issues they face in their businesses and supply chains, and they cannot track the success of any initiatives put in place to make the workplace more inclusive and successful.”

The Diversity Survey is a project by the Sustainability Tool, in collaboration with the Supply Chain Sustainability School’s Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Programme. It is set to reopen in March 2024, and anyone in the built environment can participate anonymously for free.

Picture: a photograph of three people in hi-vis jackets and protective hard hats. They are on a building site and one of the people is holding a laptop. Image Credit: Gorodenkoff via Shutterstock

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 17 January 2024


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