‘Clothing must be deemed appropriate’: UK Construction Week launches exhibitor code of conduct

The NEC-set industry show UK Construction Week has unveiled a new code of conduct for exhibitors to avoid a repeat of last year’s controversy.

The event, organised by Media 10, was criticised last year for one exhibitor’s use of Las Vegas-style show girls.

In the wake of further scandals in the wider world, including the now infamous President’s Club ball, the show organiser has launched a new code of conduct for exhibitors, including those using promotional staff, after admitting it “got it wrong” last year. It is one of a number of steps the organiser has taken, including setting up a new steering committee made up of representatives from the industry who attend the show. It includes Balfour Beatty’s Senior Planner and LGBT Nework co-chair, the Group HR and Diversity Manager at Willmott Dixon and RCIS’ Diversity and Inclusion Director.

It is thought to be the first time any major trade show has set standards on diversity, including the use of promo staff on exhibition stands, Media 10 said.

Cultural shift

Aaron Reid, Head of Sustainable Procurement, Balfour Beatty, said: “The work that we are undertaking alongside UK Construction Week represents a vital shift change in accelerating cultural transformation in the industry and addressing the skills shortage which will affect all major infrastructure and construction projects over the coming years. It is essential that the industry joins together to ensure that a career is construction is considered an attractive option and that we grow to become representative of the communities in which we operate.”

“We got it wrong last year, and faced criticism on social media. So we’re still learning too.”

Nathan Garnett, Director of UK Construction Week said: “We want the show to be lively, fun and engaging, and these measures should not be interpreted as restrictions upon that. Promoting a more diverse and inclusive image of construction is a joyful thing.

“But the fear of getting it wrong is holding the construction industry back from a frank conversation about diversity, equality and inclusion.

“We got it wrong last year, and faced criticism on social media. So we’re still learning too. We have benefitted enormously from the input of many diversity champions and leaders within the construction industry over the last couple of years, and have published the videos from our Diversity in Construction panel discussions so that others can hear their advice as well.

“We recognise from the experiences in 2017, as well as observing other events in the news that the utmost scrutiny must be applied in how companies are portraying themselves and the industry as a whole at UK Construction Week.”

CODE OF CONDUCT

UK Construction Week’s exhibitor Code of Conduct states: “The construction industry is changing its image and we are asking you to help us with that mission. As the UK’s largest event for the built environment, UK Construction Week, organised by Media 10, recognises it has an important role to play is setting an example, and that involves championing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the sector.”

The code of conduct has a set of rules for promotional staff:

“Clothing must be deemed appropriate for a business event. If the organiser deems the clothing to be unsuitable the organiser reserves the right to prevent admittance of the staff into the event
– The exhibitor must inform the organiser which promotional staff agency they are using prior to the event
– Any activity promotional staff are asked to undertake other than on stand lead generation and handing our literature must be agreed with the organiser before the event
– Consider the mix of staff you have on the stand (gender, age, ethnicity etc), do they represent the diversity of your company, and if not, be prepared to explain why not
– Consider whether you have asked staff to do something that could be deemed to objectify them as men or women as this is strictly forbidden and could result in closure of your stand

“Please be advised, these rules and regulations are being installed for your benefit. UK Construction Week is intended to be a fun, inspirational event and these measures are here to help you make the most of it, and avoid the pitfalls of getting elements of your stand wrong. The consequences of getting it wrong with the proliferation of social media means that a situation can escalate very quickly with limited ability to stop it.

“If you get it right the opposite applies, whereby you can harness the power of social media like never before and benefit from your planning and investment in your stand.”

Read the full Code of Conduct here.

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