The UK Construction Week megashow, set to attract 35,000 attendees and more than 670 exhibitors October 9-11 in Birmingham, England, released a new "code of conduct" for exhibitors, banning the use of "promo girls" and stressing "equality, diversity and inclusion" in marketing, event organizers announced Feb. 12.
The organizers say the show is the U.K.'s largest for the built environment, and they believe it is the first major trade show in any business sector in the country to set diversity standards.
While they say the diversity push was started two years ago, scantily clad models and young women featured in show and exhibitor promotion last year generated a firestorm of criticism
"We got it wrong last year, and faced criticism on social media. So we’re still learning too," said UK Construction Week Director Nathan Garnett in a statement. "These measures should not be interpreted as restrictions. But the fear of getting it wrong is holding the construction industry back from a frank conversation about diversity, equality and inclusion."
See more details on the new UK Construction Week show code of conduct and diversity approach here.
Aaron Reid, a Balfour Beatty manager working with the trade show on the code, termed it a “vital shift change in accelerating cultural transformation in the industry and addressing the skills shortage.”
Angela Dapper, a UK-based partner at architect Denton Corker Marshall, was a social media critic last year of exhibitors’ use of promo girls, but termed organizers’ response “impressive” in a Feb. 20 opinion. She added, however, “we need to question why the response ... has been so impassioned on both sides.”
The U.S.-based giant equipment trade show ConExpo “has always encouraged a respectful, inclusive and professional environment” for its events, said Megan Tanel, senior vice president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. But she says, “AEM leadership is proactively in the process of developing a more detailed and integrated approach to address the overall issue of respect, diversity and inclusiveness.”
Meanwhle, the National Association of Women in Construction plans programs across the country to recognize Women in Construction Week, set for March 4-10, the group says.
Entitled "Making a Measurable Difference," the event is set "to highlight women as a visible component of the construction industry, and to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women … and their growing role," says NAWIC.
For more detail on Women in Construction Week and other NAWIC programs and positions, including its new stance on sexual harassment, see its website.