CPD session launches Inclusivity Charter

12 May 2022

LCL Awards recently launched its new Inclusivity Charter at a CPD session held online. We have been working on the charter for around a year, following research into the experiences of women and minority groups training to work in the building services sector. 

LCL Awards is the first Awarding Body to produce such a charter, designed to encourage our centres to embrace diversity and follow a range of steps to make its approved training environments more inclusive.

How the charter developed

A team at LCL Awards, headed up by Quality Assurance and Relationship Manager Tracy Harker and Jessica Lowe of Jello PR, brought in the expert help of Hattie Hasan MBE, who has a strong reputation as an advocate for women in the trades.

Hattie is the founder and CEO of Stopcocks, an all female plumbing business, which also trains women who have suffered domestic abuse. Last year, Hattie founded the Register for Tradeswomen, which supports and promotes tradeswomen working in the UK. 

The CPD session, attended by representatives from a number of LCL Awards approved centres, was designed around the new charter and included a session delivered by Hattie Hasan. Further discussions on diversity and inclusion were led by members of the LCL Awards team.

Challenging unconscious bias

Hattie Hasan MBE has been instrumental in drawing up the charter and was the guest speaker at the launch where she gave a talk on unconscious bias.

In her session, Hattie explained how unconscious bias and our preconceived ideas of what’s ‘normal’ that shapes conventions, rather than outright sexism; that because we’ve grown up in a world where plumbers are usually men, this is what’s seen as the norm.

She urges us to challenge these beliefs, so that we can move beyond them and normalise what we see as unusual – a male nursery nurse for example, or a female plumber. Although she recognizes that many women still face challenges working in the trades, Hattie feels that the situation is slowly improving thanks largely to social media and advertising, where women and people of colour are featured more prominently than ever before.

Flexibility is key

Tracy Harker delivered a session, which outlined a range of practical ideas that centres can adopt to make themselves more accommodating for all learners:

  • Flexible training sessions at different times of days or on different days of the week
  • More informal meet and greet sessions at times to suit those caught up in childcare during the day
  • Repeating modules, so that learners have the opportunity to catch up on missed lessons
  • The provision of some online sessions where appropriate

Tracy then outlined the importance of making training centres welcoming spaces, with the provision of appropriate, clean facilities for everyone whatever their sex, gender or ethnicity. Throughout the session Tracy invited participants to contribute ideas they’ve used to accommodate learners in their area.

Peter Miller from Worcester Community Trust said they had successfully run women only classes.

John Grocock of Rebus training in Stoke-on-Trent talked about the training they’d adapted for particular ethnic groups, which had been very effective.

Jenny Hall from Business Edge in Hampshire described the Ladies’ Day they’d held, where twenty women had come along to see what was on offer.

Andy Mason from COSAC explained how the recruitment of a young woman trainer had done much to improve the atmosphere at his centre.

Dealing with conflict

Helen Knowles, who joined LCL Awards at the end of last year as full-time EV and Technical Specialist, delivered a session on managing conflict in the training environment.

Helen has a 360 degree view of working in building services, having been a plumber, trainer and assessor. She talked about balancing the different needs of individuals within a training group and the importance of good communication and empathy in problem solving. 

Her strategy to avoid conflict includes:

  • The setting of clear boundaries
  • Presenting an accommodating attitude
  • Listening to the input and opinions of others

Diversity works!

The final part of the CPD session was on successful marketing - leading positive social change through thoughtful and respectful content. It was delivered by Jessica Lowe of Jello PR, who has been working for LCL Awards for the last sixteen years. 

In her talk, Jess took a look back at advertisements from over the last fifty years or so to trace how attitudes to women have changed. Some examples were truly shocking! 

Jess stressed the importance of using appropriate language and imagery on websites and in social media posts so that efforts to promote inclusivity aren’t seen as being tokenistic.

She demonstrated how focusing content on diversity and inclusivity can reap real rewards, by citing a 2019 consumer survey by Google and The Female Quotient. The results of the survey revealed that 64% of all respondents took some action after seeing an ad that they considered to be diverse or inclusive. And that in some segments, the rates were even higher:

  • 77% amongst millenianls
  • 79% of ethnic minorities
  • 85% of those who identify as LGBTQ+

The power of the case study

In marketing terms, people respond well to the life stories of real people and Jess showed how something a little out of the ordinary has real impact.

JelloPR puts together case studies for LCL Awards Centres and she compared the analytics from three recent stories – two about male trainees making a career change and the third about a woman teacher who retrained to work as a gas engineer. The stories about the men initiated some interest, but the story of the female swept the floor – leading to twenty times the number of link clicks to the training centre’s websit when compared to those of the men.

The launch of the Inclusivity Charter

At the end of the afternoon, Tracy Harker, unveiled the Charter and the accompanying logo, which those centres, upholding the objectives within it, can use on their websites. There’s also a wall plaque that can be displayed in-centre, so that learners and visitors can be assured of a warm welcome.

Mark Krull, LCL Awards’ Director, who attended the CPD session said:

“There’s a currently a significant skills gap in the sector so it makes sense to recruit more people into the industry.

"LCL Awards has an important and influential part to play in actively attracting new candidates to BSE trades, accommodating everyone who’d like to join us in the important and rewarding work we do. Our Charter has been designed to formalise requirements we’d expect from our training centres.

“We’re not playing lip-service here - centres who sign up to the charter will be expected to uphold high standards and will be audited. The Charter will become part of our equality module.”

Meeting the Charter

Centres that attended the CPD session have received an 'Inclusivity Charter Checklist' to see where they are now in terms of meeting the Charter's requirements and what they can do to improve things. This checklist will form part of the annual audit.

Once this checklist has been returned, they will receive a plaque and poster of the Charter itself to display in-centre. We encourage participating centres to share information on their commitment to the Charter on websites and other marketing channels.

All LCL Awards centres are being encouraged to sign-up to the charter. For more information on how to do this, please get in touch with Tracy Harker at LCL Awards - tracy.harker@lclawards.co.uk. Tracy can also provide access to the CPD session which was recorded on the day.