When Crossrail, the new high frequency, high capacity railway for London and the South East, hired Pamela McInroy as a temp for their Health & Safety department, it likely had no idea of the impact she would go on to make.
Setting the Scene
With a degree in Women’s Studies, a career spent working on international projects in Canada, Brazil, South Africa and South Korea and a heartfelt passion for people, a reflection about her daily commute proved to be the catalyst for an innovative new approach to health & safety.
While Pamela felt a little uneasy about her early morning tube journey into London, she was struck by the idea that she was, compared to many people who worked in construction, in a very privileged position. For example, compared to many migrant workers, she didn’t live in a hostel hours away from her work or have English as her second language.
Reflecting on the Crossrail motto of ‘show up fit and ready to work’, Pamela asked herself an important question, ‘how does the diversity and sense of inclusion on a construction site affect a person’s health and safety?
Achieving Rapid Safety Impact
Inclusive work places are safer
While there is abundant evidence that more diverse organisations perform better and that inclusive work places are safer, Diversity & Inclusion initiatives have traditionally struggled to gain traction on the ground – especially on construction sites.
After winning the support of her director, Pamela’s approach was to review Crossrails’ existing Health & Safety strategy and embed Diversity & Inclusion into everything: Audits, campaigns, translations, surveys and training programmes.
Creating a Lasting Legacy
Putting theory into practice
Putting the theory into practice meant working from theground up -visiting sites, talking to workers and identifying the areas for improvement.From reporting cards translated into native languages, to the provision of PPE for women and sanitary facilities, applying a diversity and inclusion lens to Health & Safety has helped to surface important issues of inclusion. It is also helping to foster a culture of interdependence where everyone looks out for each other, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
Pamela also went on to develop the Diversity & Inclusion/Health & Safety Maturity Matrix, which measures the maturity of a construction site between basic compliance with the Equality Act and where the company would want a world class project to be.The matrix has been so well received by the Health & Safety profession that Pamela has been sharing it with other organisations in London, Canada and Australia that are keen to follow suit.
Advice for Creating Positive Impact
“The best way to have a positive impact is to try to supporteveryone and be respectful of all people.It's about looking beyond yourself and factoring in others peoples lives. Not everything is fair, but at work we can all try and make the playing field a little more balanced and inclusive.”
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