Reprinted – by public demand – from today’s edition of This Week in Demolition.
My youngest daughter recently introduced me to a friend about whom she had been talking for about six months. He was a nice guy and they clearly shared a passion for the same kind of music and fashion that tends to draw young people together.
After he’d left, I said – like the sorry, unintentional racist that my 1970s London upbringing made me – “You didn’t tell me he was black”. And, like the right-minded, liberal that I hoped she would be, my daughter responded: “Why would I?”
It is an object lesson that the demolition industry would do well to heed.
As part of my job, I attend countless meetings, conferences, seminars and exhibitions in both the construction and demolition sectors. And, almost without fail, they each look like a cross between a meeting at the Muirfield golf course and a rally for the British National Party (BNP); almost exclusively male, almost exclusively white, and – as far as anyone can tell – exclusively straight.
In the past, I have heard this phenomenon explained by highlighting the strong family traditions that exist in the UK demolition industry. That is certainly the case and, even today, goes some way to explaining why the boardrooms of most UK demolition companies remain exclusively white. But there is way more to demolition than the oak-panelled boardrooms. Demolition is a multi-disciplined industry that requires equipment operators, site and contract managers, engineers, health and safety advisors, estimators, risk assessors and a whole heap of administrative staff.
If demolition really is a meritocracy in which people are selected and their progression is based upon their individual merit, why is it still so unrepresentative? Are we absolutely certain that straight, white males are best suited to ALL the disciplines this industry has to offer?
If that is the case, then this industry is even more out of touch than I had previously feared.