So are there no gay men in our company? I doubt it. 1,739 men work in BAM Construct UK. The latest research from the Office for National Statistics shows that 1.5% of men in the UK identify as gay. Nowadays, in the UK, MPs, journalists, actors, lawyers, - even rugby players - openly identify their sexual orientation and no one bats an eyelid, and nor should they.
But, sadly, it’s still not like that in the construction industry. In a survey conducted last year by Construction News, 54.1% of respondents said they did not feel comfortable being open about their gender identity/or sexuality when visiting a construction site. We are doing a bit better than that in BAM. In 2016 we asked our staff in a poll: “Would a gay man feel comfortable where you work?” 77% replied yes and 23% no.
A person’s identity is complex and made up of multiple strands. I believe no one should have to reveal his or her sexual orientation, if s/he does not want to. We all have experiences at times that make us feel as if we are on the outside. As a single woman in her late fifties, I still feel uncomfortable when couples ask me why I have never married, as if I have failed in some way to conform to an expected norm. I can see how much more difficult it must be for a man who – day-in-day-out – feels he has to conceal part of who he is when he’s at work. We know that prolonged discomfort of this kind – a feeling of being on the outside – can be a contributor to poor mental health.
Participating in Pride is a good way of publicly demonstrating BAM Construct UK’s commitment to becoming a more open and diverse company.
And I hope it will inspire all of us in BAM Construct UK to keep on working towards a culture in our company where everyone can be open about their sexuality.