BMF Members’ Conference: Launch of the ‘Construction Inclusion Coalition’

BMF Members’ Conference: Launch of the ‘Construction Inclusion Coalition’

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has partnered with 10 other major organisations across the construction sector to establish the Construction Inclusion Coalition (CIC), with the initiative aiming to improve equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the sector.

Established by CEOs at leading organisations including Aliaxis, Baxi, Bradfords, Highbourne Group, Ibstock PLC, Knauf, Travis Perkins PLC, Wavin, Wolseley Group, BMF and the National Merchant Buying Society (NMBS), the new Construction Inclusion Coalition has been created to raise sector standards on equity, diversity and inclusion, focusing on increasing collaboration, networking and knowledge sharing across the sector.

With an immediate focus on gender representation in its first year, the Coalition was launched at the recent BMF Annual Members’ Conference in a session addressed by CIC Chairperson and Toolstation Managing Director, Angela Rushforth, and representatives of two CIC founder members, Sam Grierson, Customer Proposition Director & EDI Chair for Wolseley Group, and James Saunders , Chief People Officer of City Plumbing part of the Highbourne Group.

The Coalition is being launched alongside new polling which shows that only one third (36%) of British people would feel confident that their female family or friends would be safe and respected if they joined the construction industry. The research of over 2,000 adults also outlines the opportunity for the sector, with nearly half of people (46%) saying they’d be more likely to actively seek out employment opportunities in the construction industry if it demonstrated a stronger commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Angela Rushforth, Toolstation MD and Construction Inclusion Coalition Chairperson, said: “There is no doubt that the future of our industry is at risk if we don’t create an environment where all our colleagues feel safe, empowered and confident. I want all young women to see the construction sector as I do – full of opportunity.

“We aren’t attracting and retaining from a diverse pool of talent, because many think the construction sector is not for them. These are industry-wide challenges that require industry-wide solutions, which is why the Construction Inclusion Coalition has been set up to improve equity, diversity and inclusion.

Angela continued: “We are calling on businesses across the sector – no matter how big or small – to join our Coalition and commit to taking action in their organisations.”

BMF CEO John Newcomb added: “This is a vitally important initiative for the building materials sector and others that make up the construction industry, which the BMF is proud to support. In common with other traditional industries, we are faced with an ageing workforce, and one that remains predominantly male and pale.

“As an industry we must act together to create an environment where opportunities are clearly available to a far wider demographic, to attract and recruit from the diverse pool of talent we have in this country.”

Indeed, the construction sector has one of the most rapidly ageing workforces in the UK, with research showing that close to a million construction workers – around a third of the UK’s total workforce – are set to retire in the next ten years (source: Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) Construction Skills Network, 2022). Despite this, ONS statistics from this year show the industry is currently only made up of 15% women and 6% from ethnic minority backgrounds, and faces challenges attracting and recruiting from a diverse pool of talent.

Alongside Coalition Partners, the BMF is urging businesses across the industry to join the initiative and take the Built on Better Pledge (see panel below). The pledge covers seven areas members commit to working on.

The initiative has already gained the support of Bosch, Gerberit and Independent Builders Merchant Group (IBMG) who have joined as Coalition Members, as well as the Construction Products Association (CPA), Energy & Utilities Alliance (EUA), Federation of Master Builders (FMB), National Buying Group (NBG) and H&B Buying Group (H&B) who have joined as Associate Members.

The BMF will work alongside other Coalition Partners to enhance the impact of their individual equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, by fostering collaboration and establishing a network to share knowledge and resources across the industry, and co-creating solutions that will make a difference. Progress will be tracked annually and shared in a public report.

The Coalition has also been endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council, the leading body which draws together business leaders from across the construction sector and links them with the UK government.

Mark Reynolds, CLC Co-Chair and CEO of Mace, said: “The Construction Leadership Council has long been advocating for businesses and organisations in our sector to collaborate to make our industry more welcoming and inclusive. It is clear that ensuring a consistent approach to equity, diversity and inclusion will be vital for the future of construction, which is why we’re pleased to support the Construction Inclusion Coalition.

“There is much work to be done, however I am confident that sharing knowledge and raising standards, we can make a meaningful impact across the sector.”

For more information about the Construction Inclusion Coalition and how to join, please go to

The Construction Inclusion Coalition’s Built on Better pledge:

INSPIRE – Work together to inspire the next generation of leaders in the construction industry.

LISTEN – Conduct internal surveys on equity, diversity and inclusion, and to act on the main problems and barriers identified.

SHARE – Develop and share resources from within and beyond the construction industry.

SUPPORT – Support a healthy and collaborative workplace environment, and maintain a whistleblowing procedure where colleagues feel comfortable speaking out.

EDUCATE – Educate ourselves, our colleagues, and the wider industry around aspects of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

MEASURE – Commit to benchmarking, tracking and sharing equity, diversity and inclusion data within organisations.

REPORT – Assess our equity, diversity, and inclusion progress on an annual basis, publishing a report and outlining a plan for further action every year as a Coalition.

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