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Can workforce diversity stimulate transformation towards a more sustainable future? 

The foundation industries face stark challenges that are worsened by a persistent lack of workforce diversity. In 2020, women represented 16% and BAME workers only 7.1% of all workers. Coinciding with a looming skills shortage due to an aging workforce, difficulties in recruiting and retaining gender and ethnic minorities have been compounded by the effects of COVID-19 and Brexit restricting access to markets previously relied upon to reconcile shortages in labour supply. The lack of diversity emphasizes the challenges faced by supply chain demands, productivity losses, technological advancements and achieving decarbonization through a loss of existing skills and meeting future demand. Thus, in pursuing workforce sustainability through diversity and inclusion, the construction and foundation industries can achieve transformation by not only addressing skills shortages, but in accessing innovation through new management and organizational structures to pursue net-zero goals.

The project aims to identify and better understand the underlying causes of high rates of attrition for women and ethnic minorities and lack of diversity in the foundation industries and to stimulate sustainability and innovation through increased diversification and inclusion. We will investigate existing administrative data on pay, progression and retention to understand the factors that contribute to exit and/or lack of progression, and to develop appropriate solutions. We will focus on why women and ethnic minorities leave the firm; and understand how promotion opportunities and pay impact decisions. We aim to develop a case study to be utilized across the foundation industries that identify factors of attrition to develop appropriate strategies to attract and retain gender and minorities ethnic workers.

Prof. Jennifer Tomlinson

University of Leeds

Published: March 8th, 2023
Posted in projects

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