The importance of the Fairness Inclusion and Respect (FIR) initiative

Richard King – Director at Osborne and Chairman of CECA Southern discusses the importance for the Industry to fully embrace the Fairness Inclusion and Respect (FIR) initiative.
The ONS predicts the UK population will grow by nearly 10 million people in the next 25 years.

They will all need somewhere to live, essential and reliable utilities services, and an effective and efficient transport infrastructure so they’re connected to their work and leisure. This means, very simply, the industry is going to be very busy!

Our current pool of managers and trades predominantly consists of middle aged males that once retired will leave a huge gap in the skills available within the construction industry. If we are to succeed in the future we need to address the worsening skills crisis now and make sure our industry is a diverse, inclusive and respectful environment to attract the best possible new talent. If we had a fleet at sea we would be developing and implementing emergency plans and diverting our ships to prepare ourselves for the onslaught! Yet somehow when it comes to diversity and inclusivity, we as a collective industry, have for far too long had our heads deeply rooted in the sand!

I was therefore delighted to be approached to support the Fairness Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Industry Steering Group. The FIR initiative is essential to help businesses create a working environment that will attract people from all walks of life. The Steering Group along with appointed FIR Ambassadors are working hard to help organisations large and small develop a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

This team are setting the bar in behaviours by recognising that in order to solve the industry’s key issues; it needs a widespread industry effort, using the best knowledge and experience regardless of one’s employer or whether you are a customer or supplier! Osborne is committed to the FIR Initiative, part of which is representative of the Industry Steering Group, comprised of major transport infrastructure customers, main contractor suppliers and the Supply Chain School.

Osborne has already applied some early learning from the FIR initiative with the appointment of three FIR Ambassadors. These volunteers have been through the Supply Chain School’s FIR Ambassador Training Programme and they have already held two co-hosted FIR Workshops with Network Rail and London Borough of Waltham Forest facilitated by the Supply Chain School.
The workshops have been attended by our customers, our supply partners and also included third party organisations, people seeking FIR help and guidance.

I urge all businesses to download and use the FIR Toolkit. It is completely free and contains great materials to help businesses through e-learning modules, toolbox talks, videos and animations.

Click here for access to the Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Toolkit for the Construction Industry.

This project has been delivered with support from the CITB Growth Fund, which aims to ensure that the construction industry has the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time and is equipped to meet the future skills demands of the industry.