Richard delivering a FIR toolbox talk on the A14

Richard writes:

I’ve recently been delivering toolbox talks on language to workers on the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme.

Using the FIR toolkit from the Supply Chain Sustainability School’s award-winning resource library, the language presentation aims to create an awareness of how certain behaviours can be perceived. What might be considered harmless banter in the workplace by some, can lead to real isolation and loneliness in others. This in turn can lead to issues around mental health and wellbeing.

We want people to see every individual as a valued contributor; that makes everyone happier at work and leads to better productivity. A bonus, from our point of view, is that it also minimises staff turnover.

Key messages of the talk:

  • Use language that makes people feel included, not offended.
  • The only language acceptable at work is that which doesn’t offend.
  • People who feel included work better and safer; the job is easier, and everyone goes home happier.

Developing a culture of fairness, inclusion and respect

VGC is a Gold member of the Supply Chain Sustainability School, which is a collaboration between clients, contractors and suppliers who have a mutual interest in building the skills of their supply chain. We have been involved in the school since 2012. As partners, we can work together with our clients to develop a culture of fairness, inclusion and respect (FIR) within workplaces. This includes promoting equality and diversity, and combating discrimination.

Part of this involves delivering presentations to the workforce on various projects including Crossrail, M25 smart motorway upgrade and the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme. When we deliver these toolbox talks, we do not limit attendance to just VGC staff. We invite everyone, no matter who they work for, to attend.

After one such presentation to the team on the A14 section 1 in January, Ben Cross, A14 IDT supply chain manager, said “This is fantastic, and another example of your team’s passion and drive for changing our industry for the better”.

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are fundamental to the way VGC Group undertakes our business. It is not just about processes and procedures but is embedded in our culture throughout the entire organisation. This includes ensuring all our staff at work feel they belong to a team, where they will not encounter any form of discrimination under any circumstances. The way they are spoken to and equally, the way they speak and are perceived by others, forms the basis of this.

Richard Wheeler, HSQE manager
Author: Richard Wheeler, HSQE manager

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