It has been a month of firsts for me. My first outing since the Coronavirus lockdown to a safe and discrete inauguration at HQ; donning the presidential chain for the first time; chairing my first CABE virtual board; my first attempt at crowd control through digital means; and my first welcome page in Building Engineer as your new President.
When Past President, Ant Burd, wrote at the beginning of the year: “This bright new decade needs to be defined by our responses”, he could not have known the issues we would face a few short weeks later.
As we are all adapting to the phenomenal change that Covid-19 has brought, we should take heart from the following: homelessness on the streets of UK cities is almost eliminated; essential services and supply chains have been maintained; fully-equipped critical care hospitals have been constructed in record time; while the support and respect shown to key workers has been incredibly moving. The construction industry’s reaction to the threat of Covid-19 has also demonstrated that we can – and will – change for the greater good.
Of course, it is not only Covid-19 that has caused us to rethink our daily lives. The
heart-breaking killing of George Floyd in America has brought racial inequality into sharp focus; and as we stand on the precipice of great change, we know that our actions now will affect the lives of all future generations. As CABE’s Diversity Champion I have been acutely aware that as an industry we are falling short of equality; not only for BAME individuals, but for women and for those with physical and learning differences. As people around the world are protesting against discrimination, we must remember that none of us are immune to its harmful effects. When member/s of our community are targeted unfairly, it is incumbent upon us to make sure their voices are heard.
I commit to standing against racism and fighting discrimination in whatever form it takes. This is an opportunity for us to listen, learn and act. Every one of us needs to be proactive in supporting a culture where equality for all is the fundamental basis for our society.
Three years have passed since the night of the Grenfell Tower fire. We are still waiting for the true facts of the tragedy to emerge and still have some way to go to learn the lessons of that horrific night. But our industry has shown that we can and will. Together we’ll take that positive force that comes from disaster and use it to lead the way for meaningful change.
Indeed, these are interesting times; but as Past President David Taylor once said: “We are stronger together.”
Stay safe and well.