Empowering ethnic minorities in the UK construction industry

Emmanuel Aboagye-Nimo, Kems Michael, Samuel Osei-Nimo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


One of the major calls for improvement in the construction industry is that of increasing diversity at all tiers of the professional roles. Gender balance and increase in numbers of ethnic minorities in
senior roles are among the categories for these calls. The UK construction industry is known to have an underrepresentation of some of these categories of minorities although there are continuous strides to improve the situation. In this paper, challenges that face ethnic minorities as they try to gain promotion to senior management and other decision-making roles is the focus. This research explored current practices and policies adopted by some UK construction firms with particular emphasis on empowerment of ethnic minorities into leadership roles. Using an interpretivist philosophy, 12 semistructured interviews were conducted with purposively sampled construction industry professionals. All interviewees were selected based on their ethnic backgrounds and experiences in the construction industry. The underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in leadership roles was widely acknowledged.
More importantly covert discrimination was fundamental to most barriers faced by ethnic minorities in the industry. The level of discrimination was identified to be implicit and as such there are no
obvious trails to be identified except accounts of individuals closely linked to the issues at hand. There were also indirect barriers created for industry professionals through formal organisational policies. It was identified that the drive for a more diverse workforce and ethnic minority empowerment would significantly benefit both management and employees. More importantly, this will open up the talent pool for professional roles in the industry. Overall, productivity and job satisfaction will directly and
indirectly be improved if these sought-after progressive changes can be properly implemented.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Joint CIB W099 & TG59 International Web-Conference
EditorsFred Sherratt, Billy Hare, Fidelis Emuze
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Discrimination
  • Empowerment
  • Equal opportunity
  • ethnic minorities


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