Recognising Black History Month at the Edmonton EcoPark
The month of October marked Black History Month, which celebrates and broadens understandings of black histories, achievements, and contributions across society. It presented an opportunity to highlight the integral importance of diversity and inclusion to the culture and work environment of the Edmonton EcoPark.
In efforts to extend an inclusive culture across the project, we hosted a number of insightful discussions to foster open conversations and spread awareness of Black History Month. Amos from Black Professionals in Construction joined our project-wide team meeting, discussing the importance of attracting black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) people into careers in construction. Amos explained the crucial role the NLHPP can play as a bridge for wider BAME inclusion in the industry and suggested key steps we can take to better the inclusivity of our workplace. These included attracting and retaining talent across career levels, raising awareness of construction career paths in the community, giving a platform to minority-led organisations, and promoting personal development through mentorships and leadership. We look forward to carrying these goals forward as the project progresses.
Lessons from initiatives underway in October have been shared between organisations working across the EcoPark. We heard from our project colleagues at Stephenson Harwood about their black talent programme, which aims to increase the number of black trainees attracted to, and recruited by, the firm. They explained the barriers that have impacted diversity in their organisation, as well as the efforts they are making to turn this around. Insights shared throughout the month discussed inclusion and sense of belonging at varying scales, from individual actions like making sure to correctly pronounce colleagues’ names, to project-wide efforts to understand the importance of inclusivity, which is embedded in our Inclusion Strategy. This is also reflected in our project mission statement which says:
“We champion an inclusive culture that creates a sense of belonging for every person, breaks barriers between individuals and organisations with zero-tolerance for bullying and harm, and fosters open and transparent communication for everyone.”
One way the project is meeting its mission statement is through the introduction of weekly BAME Safe Space Sessions, exploring exclusion and inclusion within a safe environment. Another focus of Black History Month was on making conversations more inclusive and sensitive to the perspectives of others. This involved a discussion led by a Senior Leader on making sure to give everyone opportunities to contribute, where different social and cultural norms can mean individuals are less inclined to voice their opinion in conversations with more senior colleagues.
All of us on the Project are committed to creating career opportunities for young people from BAME backgrounds through apprenticeships and training placements. We are pleased to report that, to date, 53% of apprentices on the project identify themselves as BAME. Whilst this sits above the industry average for representation, we will continue working to ensure that our workforce is representative of the communities the NLWA serves. We are encouraging future applicants from BAME communities surrounding the site by locally advertising roles and engaging with schools and colleges in nearby boroughs. Driving change across our organisations is vital to making opportunities at the Edmonton EcoPark more accessible and representative of BAME communities in the population we serve across north London.