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Construction industry not 'monoculture', says Crossrail HRD

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Companies in the construction industry should be "shining a light on good practice" to attract diverse talent, according to Crossrail HR director Valerie Todd.

Todd told HR magazine diversity does exist within the construction industry, even though there is still work to be done. She added that making sure the positive stories are told outside of the industry is one of the biggest challenges.

"A few years ago, at the start of the economic downturn, we realised that fewer young people were coming into construction," she said. "So we worked hard to ensure people knew it was still a great place to work.

"What a lot of people don't realise is that there is a great variety of jobs within the sector – from legal to accounting as well as high-skilled engineering. You can enter at any level."

Some of the work is around "debunking myths", according to Todd. High-profile projects like the Crossrail project to build a high-frequency rail link across London are a good way to approach this.

"The publicity works in our favour," she said. "Just recently we had an interview with one of our apprentices from an ethnic minority in a national newspaper. It's one thing the HRD turning round and saying that it's good working here but to hear it from one of the employees is more effective."

As well as changing perceptions, employers still need to get the "simple things" right, added Todd.

"Flexible working and good maternity leave, these are things that need to be done well to encourage diversity," she said.