June 7, 2021

The Equal Group Design Labs Press Release Jan 2021

The Equal Group Launch the Greater London Authority (GLA) Workforce Integration Network (WIN) Design Labs to tackle underrepresentation of young Black men in work construction and infrastructure.

The Greater London Authority and equality, diversity and inclusion consultancy, The Equal Group, are proud to be taking the lead on delivering the Design Lab; a 12-month programme to tackle the underrepresentation of young Black men in work, with a specific focus on the Construction and Infrastructure sectors. This programme is part of the Workforce Integration Network (WIN) within the Mayor of London’s Strategy for Social Integration to improve pathways for underrepresented groups in the workplace. The WIN programme is currently focused on supporting young black men aged 16 to 24 years into significant and substantial employment in London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “The launch of Design Labs will not only help employers enrich their workforce but empower them to become more, equal, more inclusive and better able to make full use of the talent we have in our city.”

“Your background should have no bearing on what you can achieve yet, even in a city as diverse as London, too many young Black men face barriers to employment.”

“Every Londoner deserves the opportunity to fulfil their potential and finding pathways into meaningful work is an important part of that.”

The Equal Group will be hosting an online launch event for the Design Labs on Tuesday 26th January, 3:30 – 4:30PM, where attendees will be joined by 6 guest speakers from across the industry as well as a special message from Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. The wider programme will consist of workshops, one-to-one sessions, data collection, supply chain assessments, introductions to suppliers, and networking and recruitment opportunities. Companies already signed up include Balfour Beatty, SGN, J Murphy & Sons Ltd, Wates Ltd, UK Power Networks, Mott MacDonald, Ferrovial Construction, Laing O’Rourke, Balfour Beatty Vinci Systra, Thames Water, and Hyperoptic.

This programme comes as young Black Men have some of the highest unemployment rates in London – 33%, compared to 15 % White Men. The Workforce Integration Network of the Greater London Authority aims to create a more socially integrated city by breaking down the inequalities London citizens face in their everyday lives. One such major inequality is disproportionate levels of unemployment and barriers to accessing and progressing in work. Recently the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the COVID-19 crisis have continued to expose and highlight the institutional inequalities that impact how people live and work.

The Equal Group CEO, Mac Alonge commented: “We are pleased to be collaborating with the Mayor of London, the GLA team and leading construction and infrastructure organisations on the Design Labs.”

“The Black lives matter movement and social unrest of 2020 saw a lot more people and organisations becoming aware of the deep seated nature of racial disparities within our society and the workplace.”

“Unfortunately a lot of the resultant ‘equality pledges’ and ‘equality weeks’ do not go far enough in trying to resolve the apparent inequalities. Such issues take dedicated focus and targeted, data driven interventions to overcome.”

“The GLA win design labs are an opportunity for leading organisations to truly make a difference in London and across their workforce and we are pleased to be partnering with them to carry out this vital work.”

The Design Labs have been created as part of the Workforce Integration Network to equip organisations with the tools to help tackle these inequalities. Organisations that join the Design Labs can look forward to:

  • Becoming an equality, diversity and inclusion leader in the construction and infrastructure sectors.
  • Increasing employee satisfaction by showing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion at such a key moment in time.
  • Becoming an attractive supplier to organisations committed to diversity and inclusion.
  • Receiving bespoke one-to-one support to build an action plan to tackle the underrepresentation of young Black men in your organisation.
  • Gaining access to an exclusive showcase of leading diverse recruitment specialists. Network and engage with companies leading the charge in diversifying the construction sector.
  • Receiving recognition and profiling opportunities and a Mayoral celebration event.

If your organisation is interested in joining other industry leaders in participating in the next Design Lab cohort, please register here:

Alternatively, if you would like to speak to The Equal Group about the Design Labs before formally expressing an interest, please get in touch at:

Quotes from participating organisations

“We are committed to building an organisation which is more representative of the communities we serve, offering equality of opportunities to diverse talent and an inclusive work environment where this talent thrives. The bold targets we have set ourselves will take time to achieve, but we are moving in the right direction and we are committed to achieving sustainable change.”

Nikunj Upadhyay, Head of Inclusion & Diversity – Wates Group

“Hyperoptic embraces diversity and equal opportunity in a serious way. We are committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills. The GLA WIN Design Labs programme perfectly aligned to our values of scaling our workforce with diversity at its heart.”

Naleena Gururani, Chief People Officer – Hyperoptic

“At Balfour Beatty we are committed to creating a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture where everyone can be themselves and reach their full potential, not only because this is the right thing to do, but because it makes us a better business.

“Being part of the GLA WIN programme is a great opportunity to further improve, develop and tailor our recruitment policies and processes to better support inclusive employment in London. We continuously look for the best ways of attracting and retaining great talent from all backgrounds and we are always open to learning from others.”

Jo Volk, Talent and Development Director – Balfour Beatty

“Alongside our Integrated Project Team and supply chain partners, we are absolutely committed to tackling issues of inequality.

“Through our involvement in the GLA Design Lab project, we have an opportunity to make a real difference and contribute to greater inclusion at HS2’s Old Oak Common Station in London – providing education and employment opportunities for communities and businesses that have been historically marginalised and excluded.”

Nigel Russel, Project Director – Balfour Beatty VINCI SYSTRA

“At SGN, inclusion is at the heart of everything we do. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made, but like many other companies, we can do more to create a more diverse workforce. We’re taking steps to attract talent from under-represented groups and are excited to be part of the GLA Design Lab programme, helping us to work collaboratively and build stronger networks. We know the value a more inclusive workforce can bring our customers and our business, and we want to be part of much needed change in London, and beyond.”

Glenn Norman, Director of Operations (South), Executive Sponsor – SGN

“We are delighted to join forces with the Mayor’s Workforce Integration Network (WIN) Design Labs to support us in becoming a sector leader on equality, diversity and inclusion. We are committed to creating a workplace where everyone has the same opportunities to thrive and we look forward to working collaboratively to help tackle under-representation of black men across our sector. We must continue doing everything we can to develop a diverse workforce which reflects the interests of the communities we serve which will help us to provide an even better service as we support UK transition to a net zero carbon economy.”

Patrick Clarke, Director of Network Operations – UK Power Networks

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