High levels of racism found in civil engineering industry, according to ICE survey

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15th September 2021 16:53 - Engineering

Survey into racism within the civil engineering industry published by ICE: A survey looking at racism within the civil engineering industry has revealed the extent of the issue, prompting the Institute of Civil Engineers to act.

The Racism in Civil Engineering report was conducted by the ICE’s Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) committee, and while the findings have come as a shock to some people, others have registered that the level of racism reported is something they are already well aware of.

The survey attracted 2,110 responses from ICE’s UK membership, equating to 4.2% of members. It found that more than 8 in 10 respondents from black and ethnic minority backgrounds have seen racism in the civil engineering workplace, while nearly three-quarters (73%) have seen it within the Institute. Amongst the white respondents polled, more than six in 10 said they have seen racism at work, with the same percentage saying they have seen it within ICE also.

The findings from the survey have been released to businesses with a toolkit to help change the behaviour of companies as well as individuals.

Amongst black and ethnic minority background survey participants, 72% said they believed 'unconscious bias' was the main issue, while a quarter (24%) said they had personally experienced overt racism whilst at work.

In a section of the survey about trusting their employers, respondents were asked why they do not trust that their employer would be capable of dealing with inappropriate language or behaviour related to race if someone reported it. Nearly a fifth (18%) said that in their experience racial issues were dismissed as insignificant or not taken seriously, while 10% said there was a lack of management appetite/support.

Nine percent said their mistrust comes from the way previous cases have been handled, while the same percentage (9%) said there is no framework in place or a lack of training offered in the workplace. Slightly fewer (8%) said inappropriate behaviour occurs at the top, while 7% said they did not want to harm their career or position by raising issues. Six percent of respondents said that racism was 'embedded in the culture'.

ICE’s director general Nick Baveystock, said:

“Our Institution has, for many years, benefited from the involvement of people of all backgrounds, genders and races as we champion the relevance and importance of civil engineering and infrastructure to everyday lives.

“We stand with all our colleagues around the world in condemning all forms of racism, inequality and bias and will continue to work with everyone, both inside and outside our profession, to champion what is right and just.”

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