Silent Discrimination in the Construction Industry

Silent Discrimination in the Construction Industry

Statistics show that over 700 construction workers die by suicide per year in the UK — equivalent to two construction workers every working day.

There is still a stigma surrounding mental health, especially within male-dominated industries, such as the construction industry. This stigma brings a range of issues, which can have devastating effects on those suffering.

The construction industry is particularly vulnerable to mental health issues due to the long, strenuous hours, job insecurity and many more factors.

Colemans, one of the leading demolition, deconstruction and dismantling specialist contractors, looked further into a particular effect that can come from this stigma, Silent Discrimination.

Silent discrimination is also known as ‘covert discrimination’ or ‘subtle discrimination’ — it refers to a type of bias and prejudice that isn’t openly expressed or easily noticeable. This act is when individuals or groups are treated unequally or unfairly due to their gender, race, age, sexuality, or other protected characteristics.

Some examples of silent discrimination include:

  • Excluding or avoiding individuals with mental health problems from projects and work or social events due to perceived restrictions for projects.
  • Unintentionally letting biases against people with mental health conditions influence decisions when hiring or promoting employees.
  • Using derogatory language or making casual remarks that refute or disparage a person who is struggling with mental health issues.

Unfortunately, derogatory language could occur often within the construction industry due to the ‘banter’ that stereotypically occurs on sites. It’s important to know the line between banter and bullying — research shows 21% of construction employees have experienced bullying in the last year, and almost 3 in 10 say the bullying was labelled as ‘banter’.

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Mark Coleman, Chief Executive at Colemans, commented: “Mental health is a serious issue, and is something we see affect those in the industry all too often. Breaking this stigma, educating others, and supporting employees and colleagues is extremely important. Having experienced difficulties, myself I understand how difficult it is to get this right.”

Colemans also explored other areas surrounding mental health within the industry, covering effects on the industry, and barriers to disclosure. They also spoke to experts to provide tips on how the industry can help minimise this stigma.

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