Dezeen Magazine

UK Construction Week bans "inappropriate" outfits after showgirl backlash

UK Construction Week is introducing new equality guidelines following the outcry against the use of promotional models wearing Vegas showgirl outfits at last year's event.

Media 10, a publisher and the organiser of the annual trade show attended by architects and construction experts, has released a code of conduct for exhibitors "setting the standard" for equality and diversity in the industry.

The move comes after Dezeen revealed a backlash by architects on social media about the use of showgirl-styled models at a Vegas-themed stand at UKCW in October 2017.

"Consider whether you have asked staff to do something that could be deemed to objectify them as men or women as this is strictly forbidden and could result in closure of your stand," reads the code.

"The consequences of getting it wrong with the proliferation of social media means that a situation can escalate very quickly with limited ability to stop it."

Code of conduct calls for "appropriate" clothing to be worn

While the code of conduct does not completely ban the use of promotional models, it does request that clothing worn on-stand be "appropriate" for a business event.

It also asks exhibitors to pay close attention to the gender, age and ethnicity of staff working on their stand, whether it reflects the company's diversity and to "be prepared to explain why not".

The guidance also comes with a warning to exhibitors that, if they do not comply, they "may" not be permitted to open their stand.

Move comes after Dezeen revealed social-media outcry

Media 10 issued an apology following the 2017 edition of UKCW, after the stand created for event sponsor Easy-Trim – a manufacturer of roofing ventilation and dry fix products – was called out by London Festival of Architecture director Tamsie Thomson and Denton Corker Marshall partner Angela Dapper.

As reported by Dezeen, they took to Twitter to complain about how the use of promotional models to sell products, which they claimed revealed the lack of diversity in the construction industry.

UKCW had named the Vegas-themed stand its Best in Show at the time.

The BBC and other national news outlets reported the story, as part of the wider reevaluation about the use of promotional models at business and sports events.

So mature #lasvegas #ukconstructionweek

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"We had standard guidelines. We understand it was a mistake, but we've turned it in to a positive," the director of UKCW Nathan Garnett told the BBC.

"The company in question has apologised for what's happened. The theme of the stand was 'Why gamble?' but it went too far."

Angela Dapper is now part of a Diversity Advisory Panel set up by UKCW to tackle these issues.

Treatment of women in construction is being reassessed

News of the event's updated code of conduct comes as the industry reassesses the treatment of women in construction, and beyond. A Dezeen survey revealed a lack of gender diversity in the world's biggest architecture firms, while UK government statistics state that white men are dominating the creative industries, while women are filling less than 40 per cent of jobs in the sector.

The property industry's involvement in the President's Club scandal and sexual harassment allegations at the MIPIM property fair and the Harvey Weinstein exposé have all contributed to the conversation about a need for greater equality.

In a piece following the Weinstein revelation, Dezeen columnist Anna Winston argued that the architecture industry too has a culture of quietly condoning sexist behaviour. Meanwhile, RIBA president Ben Derbyshire has out out a warning to architects attending MIPIM to adhere strictly to the body's code of conduct, following reports of inappropriate behaviour at previous editions.