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  1. ITV Report

Saleswomen in skimpy clothes banned from construction event

One stand at the event last year adopted a Las Vegas theme featuring Las Vegas-style showgirls. Credit: London Festival of Architecture

One of the UK's largest construction trade events has issued a code of conduct to promote greater equality after it faced criticism last year for featuring Las Vegas-style showgirls on one of the stands.

UK Construction Week has over 600 exhibitors, one of which adopted a Las Vegas theme in 2017, but it was the showgirls selling roofing products that attracted criticism.

Last year, Tamsie Thomson, Director of London Festival Architecture, tweeted a photo of one of the women in costume with the caption "So this is happening at #UKConstructionWeek today in 2017. What happened to bringing equality to the sector?"

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Tamsie told ITV News that when she saw the Las Vegas-style showgirls were at the event she felt "outrage that in 2017 it is still deemed appropriate to sexualise women to sell products".

"It undermines women’s position as professional in the industry. It creates a situation where women are not seen as equals but as objects to beautify a sales pitch," she added.

On the new guidelines being introduced, Tamsie said: "I guess we could say we welcome them addressing this issue and hope that they work to create a show where everyone feels welcome."

There has been mounting criticism at various sporting and business events in recent weeks after a report by the Financial Times into the President's Club ball in January.

Following the report, which centred on allegations that hostesses at the event were groped by industry figures, promoters of darts and Formula One announced scantily-dressed women would no longer be featured at events.

The construction event organisers have now issued guidelines which include diversity, equality and inclusion.

It features rules on what exhibitors are permitted to display on their stands as well as the clothing worn by staff.

The rules state: "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".

Failure to abide by the new rules may result in exhibitors being denied permission to open their stand at the event.

Exhibitors are also asked to "consider the mix of staff you have on the stand (Gender, age, ethnicity etc), do they represent the diversity of your company, and if not, be prepared to explain why not?"

Event Director Nathan Garnett told ITV News: “We have been working behind the scenes since last October’s event to set out a collaborative approach that helps companies exhibit at UK Construction Week and crucially diversity in the sector.

"We know that diversity can be one of the key solutions to solving the skills shortage that is such an issue in construction.

"By bringing out these guidelines we hope we can remove the fear of “getting it wrong” which is holding lots of industries, not just construction, back from being truly inclusive."