Ahead of their involvement in the Wellbeing & Diversity in Construction & Property Conference we’ve been speaking to Faithful+Gould’s Associate Director and EDI Lead Dara Jafari….

Q. How is Faithful+Gould establishing itself as a leader within the equality and diversity space? 

Leadership buy in is key. At Faithful+Gould we have leaders who are enthusiastic about making a real change to our industry and understand how that can also impact society. 

Corporately, we have committed to a strategy to reach Clear Assured Accreditation by 2023. This is being led by our sister company Atkins and their ED&I lead Sendra Sylvester with the Clear Company.

There are many other aspects to becoming an industry leader; the priority is that you must be open to adopting methods outside of your own industry too. You also must create a buzz about it within your workplace. Celebrate the positive impact you’re having on your staff and society and make everyone within your work environment proud to play their part. 

To be leaders in this in space, you’ll need all your staff to be pulling in the same direction too. One of the ways we’ve done this at Faithful+Gould is by including ED&I objectives into all our staff’s performance reviews.  

Q. Wellbeing within the built environment has been increasingly emphasised, how has Faithful+Gould been advancing a more supportive workplace?

In May we launched our Wellbeing Hub for our staff, recognizing that the issues around health and wellbeing that matter the most are around physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. The Wellbeing Hub is somewhere our people can find information and support in these areas, all in one place. There are techniques and training videos that you can access around wellbeing, as well as physical tips and financial advice. We also have Mental Health First Aiders who are trained volunteers and  there to help as the first point of contact for people who are suffering with mental health issues themselves or are worried about colleagues or family members. Our Employee Assistance Programme is also the go to for our people in terms of support such as access to counselling, etc.

Q. Faithful+Gould has been a consultant on some of the nation’s most significant development schemes – how did you emphasise inclusivity through your consultancy work?

Equality Diversity and Inclusion isn’t just a tick box exercise for us. If all the local community and society get from a development that we work on is disruption, then we as consultants have not done our duty.

That’s why now we are also looking at our supply chain and assessing its diversity, with a view to introduce more diverse supply chain partners. We are also going to be bringing our whole supply chain, across all our sister companies and divisions, on our ED&I journey with us. Our key suppliers will need to be just as committed to ED&I as we are, and they will soon need to demonstrate that.

At the start of our meetings, including with clients, we also have ED&I moments which are around all topics related to the subject; these moments help raise awareness and get conversations going.

Q. There has been research that has shown the coronavirus pandemic has affected up to 75% of British people’s mental health – how have you been supporting your employees through this challenging time?

The past year has been challenging for many. We have been able to be flexible with our staff with working hours and arrangements, but that’s only the bare minimum. We have a very mature Wellbeing staff network that runs sessions on mindfulness with training and tips that all staff can access. We really emphasize that prevention is key. I’ve suffered from anxiety before, and it really is crippling. But at least now I recognize the signs of that happening and can usually intercept it before it gets severe.

We also have mental health and wellbeing champions within each of our offices, and they are there to help and promote well being and mental health awareness. Within F+G we have also been lucky enough to have some incredibly passionate staff who have come forward wanting to share their own stories and experiences around mental health, sharing what they did to prevent and treat it. These stories are really moving and inspiring and get people talking about mental health and that to me is a huge positive. 

Q. What is Faithful+Gould most excited about being the event partner for the upcoming Wellbeing & Diversity in Construction & Property Conference?

Being able to tell our story and meeting new people with the same passion for Wellbeing and Diversity that we have. We want to be able to collaborate with other companies, clients, sectors and individuals. The ED&I space is rapidly changing and it’s the catalyst for us all to come together and collaborate.