BESA president highlights industry issues

BESA, Building Engineering Services Association

Malcolm Thomson, president of the Building Engineering Services Association, plans during his presidential year to champion the association’s campaigns in the fields of diversity, equal opportunities and mental health in the workplace, and standing up for the small contractor. He himself is managing director of a small air-conditioning company, Enigma Environmental Services, based in Berkshire.

Speaking at the annual president’s lunch in the House of Lords and hosted by Lord O’Neill, he said, ‘We must get to grips with diversity to widen the pool of talent available to building engineering employers. It is absolutely crazy that we are effectively only recruiting from half of the available workforce because of the woeful under-representation of women in the industry.

‘Engineering careers are now more appropriate than ever for women, and I am delighted that the association is taking a lead on this and is now a sponsor of the Women’s Engineering Society.’

Referring to small employers in the industry, he expressed the view that there needs to be greater recognition of the contribution made by small, specialist companies to the sector’ supply chain. He said, ‘Small firms, particularly those in membership of BESA, have a real passion for what they do and refuse to give up when faced with technical or business problems. The fact that the association has members of all sizes and specialisms is, I believe, one of our greatest strengths.’

Turning to the pressures on individuals in the industry, he said, ‘Economic uncertainty means this is a particularly stressful time for business owners, small business owners in particular. They and their employees face greater pressure to deliver more, faster and often with serious concerns about payment. More and more people are complaining about stress and depression in our sector, which is why BESA has launched a mental-health initiative with the mental-health charity Samaritans.’ [More on pages 14 and 15]

The objective is to develop tools, techniques and guidance to help businesses deal with these issues. He said, ‘This is a key focus for the association because it is both the right thing to do and the best thing to do to ensure our members can survive and thrive.’

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