You were one of the founders of The National Centre for Diversity back in 2005. How have you seen it develop over the past decade?
[Solat] It’s been an amazing journey since 2005. The operation has got so much bigger and complex. We have some huge clients – not least from the construction sector like Amey, Carillion, Kier, Interserve and many others.
Back then all we did was Investors in Diversity, today we also have Leaders in Diversity and Masters in Diversity. We have our own Top 100 performers, we have awards like Construction Company of the Year and CEO of the Year.
We also now have our National Patrons Network which meets twice a year. Those meeting are held either at the UK or Scottish Parliament. We are expanding our ROI operations into Singapore and looking into opening operations in Portugal and the UAE.
One of our latest projects has been the creation of Masters in Diversity Leadership programme; an outstanding and innovative programme, which incorporates an approach which will get you ahead of your competitors.
Today the National Centre for Diversity has redefined and expanded the whole discipline by creating a new identity for this type of work, by naming it FREDI- short for Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
We have created the world’s first diversity quotient test- called the FREDI Quotient. We have also created the concept of neuro-equality which explains exactly why we do what we do, and helps us to understand how we can improve as individuals and organisations – taking leaders from first class to world class.
We are so much better at what we do now with 11 years of hard won experience and I believe we are the World’s leading organisation in terms of FREDI.
The construction industry has been facing the issue of a skills gap for some time. What are your thoughts as to how we could unlock and encourage new talent for the sector?
[S] When I think of some CEO’s in construction I think of a cartoon with a bloke in a suit with his foot wedged against the bottom of a door with the door slightly ajar, so you can see a queue of women, ethnic minorities, disabled people etc. at the door and over the top I see a caption which says ‘FREDI? Yes you are pushing at an open door here’.
FREDI sits at the heart of all problems to do with the skills gap. Many Chief Executives of Construction companies really need to think about their own attitudes to FREDI. In my opinion most CEO’s are decent people who would see themselves as fair-minded, but FREDI doesn’t happen on its own. We have done some great work with Construction companies helping them to re-define job roles.
You have to work at FREDI – a bit like a marriage – you have to work at it – love and good intentions are often not enough – especially during the tough times. Changing demographics, changing social attitudes to work, the available talent pool should eventually lead Construction companies to understand that FREDI is a “must do” and not just “nice to do”.
You’re joining our panel discussion in our conference area about the skills shortage at London Build next week, and exhibiting within the Skills Hub. What do you most hope to gain from your visit to the show?
[S] I want Construction leaders to really be able to take a step back from the day to day grind; so they can have the time and space to think differently about FREDI and how good practices can supercharge their companies, and help make them a magnet for people with diverse skills and talents.
Solat will be participating in the panel discussion Building a Sustainable Bridge for the Skills Gap at 3.15pm in Conference 2 on October 26th. The National Centre for Diversity will be exhibiting in the Skills Hub – Stand: B.