Construction Week bans use of ‘promo girls’ after criticism

The UK’s largest event for the construction industry has admitted it “got it wrong” featuring Las Vegas-style female dancers, and has issued a stringent code of conduct that bans the use of “promo girls”.

UK Construction Week, which features 600 exhibitors and attracts more than 35,000 attendees each year, admitted that the construction sector had “more work to do than most” to promote diversity and to set equality standards.

The show has now issued tough new rules on diversity, equality and inclusion after being criticised for using “promo girls” and a Las Vegas-themed stand at its event last October.

“We got it wrong last year, and faced criticism on social media,” said Nathan Garnett, director of UK Construction Week. “So we’re still learning, too. No one can deny that the construction sector has more work to do in this area than most. The business case is clear, the moral case undeniable, so now is the time.”

UK Construction Week, which is held at NEC Birmingham, is the latest event to come under fire for its sexist attitude to women after the damning revelations about the men-only President’s Club ball in London last month.

Since then, promoters of darts championships and Formula One have said that they will no longer use scantily-clad models and young women in their events.

Last week the Guardian revealed that a gambling industry conference in London featured dancers and a Playboy-themed show, with hostesses claiming to have been harassed and propositioned.

The new guidelines, published by the Construction Week company on social media on Tuesday in preparation for this October’s event, warn exhibitors if they do not comply with the new rules they face being banned. The guide sets out a code of conduct that includes stand design and themes as well as clothing that staff will be expected to wear.

“Consider the mix of staff you have on the stand (gender, age, ethnicity etc),” the guidelines state. “Do they represent the diversity of your company, and if not, be prepared to explain why not.” Standards also cover issues such as clothing worn by promotional staff and the activities on stands.