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During the past year, Flannery plant have supported the Plant Group within the Supply Chain Sustainability School through its overhaul of their Minimum Standards to a second version.

The new Gold status Flannery has been awarded is part of a new programme within the School’s Plant Charter which recognises the actions taken by construction organisations to lower emissions on construction sites, resulting in improved air quality and a cleaner working environment.

Each organisation that becomes a signatory to the Charter makes a public pledge to work towards five commitments that address these emissions. These include minimum standards in procurement, engagement with stakeholders, awareness raising and education, measurement and reporting, and innovation. Having been in place for a year, the Group agreed it was necessary, and time, to make the Charter more robust such that organisations wishing to declare their ambitions to reduce air quality and carbon emissions now need to provide evidence to back up their claims.

“Having been the first Partner in the School to make a commitment to the v1.0 of the Plant Charter in 2020, it’s great that Flannery have renewed their status to the Charter and its updated Minimum Standards v2.0.  We fully expect other suppliers and contractors to follow their example.” – James Cadman, Head of Carbon, Supply Chain Sustainability School

Flannery are pleased to have been recognised for its work so far but don’t intend to stop there. Flannery will reiterate its commitment to reducing emissions on site through the continued roll-out of its sustainability plan. This includes focusing its customers on the programme of events and innovations supporting ‘FlanneryFuture’ which has, to date, included a number of innovations surrounding machine data and productivity management, alternatively powered plant and capability training of its operators.

“We’re proud of what we’ve worked towards with the Supply Chain Sustainability School so far and we’re happy to have renewed our status. We’re aim to be trendsetters within construction and continue to support innovation and sustainability across the industry. This will always be at the forefront of our decisions as a business.” – Patrick Flannery, Managing Director, Flannery Plant Hire

The infrastructure sector has a significant role to play in decarbonisation. 16% of the UK’s carbon footprint is taken up by construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure assets, and a further 37% results from in-use emissions of these assets (1). It’s therefore crucial that client organisations set ambitious decarbonisation targets, but also that supply chain partners can understand and contribute towards achieving these targets.

This report, produced for the Infrastructure Group by Action Sustainability, set out to understand key themes in the carbon reduction strategies of client organisations and asks for suppliers – both to help clients understand where greater consistency and alignment could be created, and to provide suppliers with a simple guide on what they should expect when engaging with these organisations.


EKFB become first construction joint venture to achieve a new sustainability status developed by the Supply Chain Sustainability School.

The status recognises construction firms taking steps to lower emissions and cut carbon on their sites.

HS2’s main works contractor, EKFB – a team made up of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and BAM Nuttall, has become the first construction joint venture to achieve a new sustainability status awarded by the Supply Chain Sustainability School (SCSS).

The status is part of a new programme within the School’s Plant Charter which recognises the actions taken by construction organisations to lower emissions on construction sites, resulting in improved air quality and a cleaner working environment.

Each organisation that becomes a signatory to the Charter makes a public pledge to work towards five commitments that address these emissions. These include minimum standards in procurement, engagement with stakeholders, awareness raising and education, measurement and reporting, and innovation. EKFB has started their journey on the Bronze level and their plan is to progress towards Silver and then aim to achieve Gold in the next 18 months.

Actions taken by EKFB include using retrofit technology on non-road mobile machinery to cut emissions, conducting Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil trials, introducing electric machinery and hydrogen powered generators, as well providing environmental education and awareness programmes for staff. The organisation also uses the School’s online platform, the Sustainability Tool, to track its supplier environmental, sustainability and social data.

Andrea Davidson, HS2’s Air Quality Lead said:

“It’s great news that EKFB is the first construction joint venture to be recognised in this way. It’s one of many steps that HS2 and its supply chain is taking to meet our new environmental targets and commitments, including making all construction sites diesel-free by 2029 and achieving net zero carbon as a project from 2035.

Craig Downs, EKFB’s Plant Manager said:

“EKFB and its supply chain has worked hard to achieve this industry-first status and in doing so we are proud to be recognised for our ambitious sustainability strategies. This accreditation demonstrates our commitment to innovating and reducing our environmental impact through implementing cleaner construction technics and saving carbon emissions within our building methods as we construct the new high speed railway.”

James Cadman, Head of Carbon, Supply Chain Sustainability School, said:

“We are very pleased that EKFB have become the first joint venture Signatory to the Charter, plus are the first signatory on for the Minimum Standards (v2.0). This shows that taking concerted and measured action can make significant inroads into tackling air quality and GHG emissions. We hope others follow suit.”

The Supply Chain Sustainability School is a multi-award-winning initiative which represents a common approach to addressing sustainability within supply chains. With more than 50,000 registered users, the School provides free practical learning and support in the form of sustainability training, events and networking, e-learning modules, tailored assessments and a library of over 3,000 online resources.

The Supply Chain Sustainability School (the “School”) has partnered with major construction clients and contractors, to develop and launch the Fairness, Inclusion & Respect Growth Assessment. This freely available web-based tool has been specifically designed for the construction industry and allows organisations, large and small, to benchmark their Fairness, Inclusion & Respect knowledge. The Assessment helps leaders and managers to recognise their best practice and highlights areas for improvement. On completion of the Assessment, a tailored learning plan is automatically created for companies, providing direct free access to the best-in-class learning resources of the FIR Programme, helping them to further develop and improve their business.

The Fairness, Inclusion & Respect Growth Assessment tool is endorsed by the CLC (Construction Leadership Council) as part of their Skills Plan objective of developing a more diverse & innovative industry that is better for all. Use of the tool will help organisations to accelerate the process of embedding a culture change and will help deliver CLC’s commitment to support 3,000 construction companies in developing a culture of Fairness, Inclusion and Respect by 2025.

Organisations are becoming more conscious of Fairness, Inclusion & Respect and its benefits to people, profit and enabling a sustainable business model. In a survey of 811 people who have participated in the Fairness, Inclusion & Respect programme, 55% said it helped them win new business, 58% said it improved productivity and 62% said it helped them to retain talent. But more needs to be done and the launch of this Assessment is the latest tool to help the industry create an industry that is better for all.

Belinda Blake, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Manager at National Highways said: “We are delighted to be working closely with the FIR Programme to grow our supply chains’ Equality, Diversity & Inclusion capability and resilience.  We are committed to this agenda and are looking to bring positive and lasting change through this work.”

Jo Mercer, Head of Organisational Development at VINCI, said: “The thing I like about the Fairness, Inclusion & Respect Growth Assessment is its simplicity and practical approach, with a framework to help businesses proactively embed inclusive ways of working. It helps you to understand and celebrate the great stuff already happening along with highlighting areas to focus on to support recruitment & retention and productivity.”

Ian Heptonstall, Director at the Supply Chain Sustainability School, said: “We are thrilled that the School is hosting the Fairness, Inclusion & Respect Growth Assessment. It’s a very valuable tool that provides free access for all to an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion assessment process that is designed by industry to provide valuable benchmarks of an organisation’s current Equality, Diversity & Inclusion practice and a roadmap for continuous improvement. The launch of the Fairness, Inclusion & Respect Growth Assessment is a result of a collaboration between major transport clients such as National Highways, HS2 and Network Rail along with leading contractors such as Graham, Skanska and Vinci. It’s great to see so many companies working together to further develop a culture of Fairness, Inclusion & Respect.”

Briony Wickenden, Training & Development Consultant at CECA, said: “In developing this tool, our intention is to help businesses to recognise their current good practice and see where they can make improvements. Many SMEs in construction are already leading the way on Fairness, Inclusion & Respect particularly in areas such as family friendly practices, team working and leadership, this tool will help them to demonstrate that. Larger businesses often have the tools and policies to progress Fairness, Inclusion & Respect but need to fully embed those processes and the Fairness, Inclusion & Respect Growth Assessment will help them target their efforts and resources.  No matter why a business chooses to use the tool, we believe the process will help them to understand the benefits of becoming more diverse and inclusive and, as a result, more productive and profitable.”

Kevin McLoughlin, Managing Director at McLoughlin Group, said: “A very worthwhile tool, it really highlights that no matter how well you think you are doing, there’s so much more to do. The action plan you receive isn’t at all daunting.”

In partnership with SEE Things and CHAS, Supply Chain Sustainability School members can also get accredited for taking the Fairness, Inclusion & Respect Growth Assessment and embedding practices within their company. Accreditation is valid for two years and gives members access to ongoing support and the assurance that they are continuing to practice Fairness, Inclusion & Respect to current standards and guidelines. NOCN will be the Quality Assurance of the training provided by the Supply Chain School to the Licensed Assessors.

With over fifty thousand registered users, the School provides free practical learning and support for the UK built environment, through sustainability training, networking, e-learning modules, tailored assessments, and online resources. The Fairness, Inclusion & Respect resources are becoming increasingly popular as diversity and inclusion issues become increasingly important for many organisations in the industry.

The Sustainability Tool, a software application designed to help organisations and supply chains track and measure their sustainability performance, has been used to record the largest-ever data survey on employee diversity within the transport sector.

Between July and September 2021, data was collected from over 250,000 employees across 88 supply chains of 4 major transport infrastructure companies: HS2, National Highways, Network Rail and Transport for London.

Nick Harris, CEO at National Highways, said: “By collaborating across the transport sector we can better understand the challenges we face in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce. By sharing best practice, we can help each other to understand where we can improve and effectively make change.”

The annual diversity survey, carried out within the Sustainability Tool, plays an integral role in supporting the transport sector on their mission to engage and raise awareness on diversity, equality and inclusion. Supply chain organisations are engaged to input their employee data voluntarily within the Tool, with categories including Gender, Age, Religion & Belief, Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Voluntary Leavers, Part-Time Status, and Attraction & Recruitment. Each category informs subsequent indicators that align with the ONS’ standard of diversity data collection.

A standardised version of the Sustainability Tool software system has been custom-built for the diversity survey to provide an anonymous and aggregated view of all responses, offering insights into the diversity make-up of the sector. 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.

Philip Hewson, Head of Strategy & Performance, Procurement & Supply Chain at Transport for London, said: “Data is the key to understanding and driving meaningful diversity and inclusion in our own organisation and throughout our supply chains.”

Results of the survey are used to set aspirational targets at all levels for recruitment, retention and progression of under-represented groups that reflect the demographic of the UK population. Highlights include:

  • Gender inequality remains, with only 23% being female employees
  • An increased representation of ethnic minority groups in the transport sector versus 2019, but ethnic minorities representation was still 0.4% below the ONS UK population average
  • Lack of data collection around disability, with 31.8% of employees not disclosing if they have a disability or not
  • Disclosure in the LBTQ+ sexual orientation category is progressively increasing across the sector, yet 1.5% LGBTQ+ employees reported across the sector is still below the ONS UK population average of 3.4%

The survey provides an in-depth record of diversity data, which is built upon annually to track progress in the construction sector, establish benchmarks and set targets to work toward.

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 and resources, as well as guidance and materials, supporting businesses to be more innovative and profitable, by addressing workplace culture challenges and helping to attract and retain people from a full pool of talent.

Emer Murnaghan OBE, Innovation Director at GRAHAM said: “As an organisation that actively engages in this annual survey, we’ve gained key insights into the diversity of our own workforce and can compare our performance against the industry standard. This enables us to focus on the specific areas where we need to accelerate change in our business. We welcome this leading, integrated, and collaborative approach from key transport industry clients. We applaud Supply Chain Sustainability School for their key role in developing the tool and making it available to the wider industry.”

The diversity survey will re-open in Summer 2022, whereby all organisations working in the sector will be invited to complete it on a voluntary basis. To support organisations with their submissions, the School will also be running online workshops to explain how to access and use the Tool.  Suppliers with over 250 employees will be automatically directed to complete a more detailed submission, and those with less than 250 employees will complete a ‘Lite’ version to encourage smaller SME and Tier 2 business engagement.

Ian Heptonstall, Director of Supply Chain Sustainability School (and owner of the Sustainability Tool), said: “We’re delighted to support the major transport clients in their ambitions to improve diversity within the sector. To obtain a survey sample size of over 250,000 employees is phenomenal and provides unprecedented insights into the problems at hand. We’re now seeking to expand this initiative across other sectors and organisations.”

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 that be 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 [email protected]

The transition to net zero, delivering biodiversity net gain, working towards a more circular economy, delivering social value and combatting modern slavery are just some of the challenges faced by the homebuilding industry, and groundworkers have a pivotal role to play.

In collaboration with the School’s Homes Leadership Group, we’ve developed a new beginner level learning pathway, alongside other industry clients, main contractors and trade contractors, which is designed to help groundworks companies address those high priority issues.

The pathway is being endorsed by over 10 major housebuilders and trade contractors, all encouraging their groundworks supply chain to complete the pathway to ensure we reach a consistent level of understanding on these issues across the trade, and are equipped to tackle them. As a beginner level pathway, it explains what the issues are, why they’re important, and gives hints and practical tips on how to address them.

Want to find out more? Take a look at the pathway and start learning here: ENROL NOW

This pathway is endorsed by: