People First Charter to tackle skills shortages and improve inclusivity

A new charter aims to tackle skills shortages and improve the image of the built environment industry, demonstrating the inclusivity of employers within the sector.

The People First Charter, from the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) will support member organisations with tailored support to implement an action plan putting people at the heart of their firms, offering guides and frameworks of best practice and templated policies.

The Charter will ensure organisations within the industry operate on the basis of four principles relating to their people and human resources; inclusivity for all, openness and respect, development and growth and recognition.  

Stephen Marcos Jones, chief executive of ACE, said: “We are determined that the People First Charter will not just be another pledge, which organisations sign and then forget about, but something that will provide a roadmap for all organisations who sign up to create lasting change in both their own organisation and the wider industry.

“By signing up to People First, organisations are demonstrating their commitment to behaviours and actions which promote inclusion, with signatories focused on continuous improvement, cultural change, ownership and accountability when it comes to robust, inclusive HR processes.

“People First goes way beyond simply adding a new logo or charter mark to your website and policy documents as participation in our People First Charter gives firms access to a range of benefits and tailored support, which will enable them to become employers of choice.”

ACE is working in partnership with Constructing Rainbows on the People First Charter.

Sharon Slinger, owner and director of Constructing Rainbows, said the People First Charter recognises people are the main asset of every business in the sector.

“We want to support organisations in the industry to put people first and improve the image of the sector by promoting the inclusivity of our employers,” she said.

"This Charter is focused on continuous improvement and by putting in place action plans with clear impact measures and accountability, companies will be able to focus on their key areas for improvement and track their ongoing progress.

“The leadership ACE are showing by creating the Charter, pulling together People First resources, newsletters and knowledge-sharing sessions, will help to support all their members to become people first businesses and attract and retain talent in the industry."

People First’s Inclusivity of All principle aims to promote diversity and equity and create environments where employees bring their whole selves to work and can progress well in their roles.

The openness and respect principle calls for regular, balanced feedback for staff as part of demonstrable effective communication of clear goals and KPIs and an emphasis on promoting wellbeing and the idea that staff are making a purposeful contribution to the workplace and wider society.

The development and growth principle requires signatories to provide opportunities to grow with a multifaceted approach, including new entry and existing development opportunities, as well as promoting skills for life, not just the tools to do jobs. 

Finally, the recognition principle will support organisations to celebrate the contribution made to the firm by individuals and will also recognise the contribution firms make to the future sustainability of the sector and the global built environment, whilst also encouraging collaboration.

The People First Charter is set to be officially launched at UKREiiF, the UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum, in Leeds on May 18.

Nathan Spencer, Director, UKREiiF, said: “Our industry is responsible for a large portion of the UK’s economic stability. 

“We’re not going to tackle the triple threat of the climate, social and economic challenges we face without including a range of voices as part of the solution. 

“This is a critical move by the ACE, and a step in the right direction for the improvements we need to see – we hope others will follow suit by pushing their own agendas in the right direction.” 

To sign up to the People First Charter, visit


If you would like to contact Sarah Walker about this, or any other story, please email