Largest-ever Data Survey on Employee Diversity

The Sustainability Tool, a software application designed to help organisations and supply chains track and measure their sustainability performance, has carried out the largest-ever employee diversity survey in the UK, covering nearly 340,000 individuals.

Providing an in-depth record of diversity data, the survey tool has been tracking progress in the construction and utilities sector annually since 2016, with 2022 being the first-year companies reported pay gap data.

Employee data across 270 supply chains of eight major companies and two membership organisations was collected and analysed, including: HS2, National Highways, Network Rail, Transport for London, Environment Agency, Morgan Sindall, VolkerWessels, Cadent Gas, Infrastructure Client Group, and the Major Projects Association. This reflects a 206% increase in companies participating compared to 2021, in part due to a significant rise in contributions from SMEs (small and medium enterprises).

David O’Neil, Supply Chain Director at National Highways, said: “It’s positive to see the progress being made and the growth in engagement throughout the supply chain. The results are becoming even more significant and representative. This has provided us with many themes/trends which, as a sector, we can use to connect leading practices and focus activity in collaboration with Highways Suppliers.”


Despite increased engagement levels and sample size, diversity inequalities remain apparent (as notably highlighted by the attraction and recruitment statistics). Key takeaways from the 2022 survey include:

  • Gender: inequality persists, with women making up only 23% of employees
  • Ethnicity: representation of ethnic minority groups increased to 13.7% for 2022, but ethnic minorities representation was still 5% below the ONS UK population average
  • Attraction and Recruitment: the application to hiring ratio ranged between 21:1 to 78:1 for Ethnic minority groups, 16:1 for white applicants, 16:1 for women, 22:1 for men and 22:1 for disabled people.
  • Disability: the lack of data collection around disability persists, with 44.5% of employees not disclosing whether or not they have a disability
  • Sexual orientation: disclosure is progressively increasing across the sector, yet only 1.7% of employees identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community for the sector. While this is an increase over previous years, it is well below the ONS UK population average of 3.1%

The survey plays an integral role in supporting the transport and infrastructure sector on its mission to engage and raise awareness of diversity, equality, and inclusion, as well as to establish benchmarks and set targets for the industry to work toward.

Osita Madu, Senior Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Supply Chain at HS2, said: “The data shows the true picture of the built environment sectors and shines a light on those who offer symbolic gestures but, in fact, resist change. It showcases those who are having courageous conversations and evolving inclusive organisations. We can compare the data year on year to identify what progress has been made and which areas we should focus on.”

The FIR Programme

The survey continues to be complemented by Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Programme activities. Funded by CITB and run by the Supply Chain Sustainability School, the FIR Programme is an industry-wide initiative that aims to make workplaces better for everyone. It provides free industry-endorsed training, workshops, resources and guidance materials along with a tailored Ambassador program and other initiatives to support businesses to be more innovative and profitable by addressing workplace culture challenges and helping to attract and retain people.

Paul Aldridge, Sustainability Director at WJ Group, said: “This annual exercise gives us an insight into our industry. It can shock and inspire and gives us an understanding of what we need to improve, helping build the FIR programme now and for the future. The constant improvement in participation is, in itself, a cause for great optimism that we can create an industry that is truly inclusive, where everyone is treated with fairness, inclusion and respect as a matter of course and can bring their whole selves to work.”

How to participate

The survey will re-open in Spring 2023, whereby all organisations working in the sector can participate.

Supply chain organisations are invited to anonymously report their employee data voluntarily within the Sustainability Tool, with categories including Gender, Age, Religion & Belief, Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Voluntary Leavers, Part-Time Status, Pay Gap, and Attraction & Recruitment.

Respondents have free access to in-depth and interactive dashboards that compare their employee base with the sector’s and the ONS UK population statistics.

The Diversity Survey is also available for usage across other industries, whilst the Sustainability Tool can help businesses report and manage sustainability performance across more than just diversity, whether within an organisation, its projects, contracts and supply chain. Organisations wishing to use the Diversity Survey or wider Sustainability Tool within their own supply chain should contact

Access the full Diversity Survey 2022 results on the School website here.

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