Australia’s largest construction companies are developing Reconciliation Action Plans. Here’s why you should too
While construction companies are building the future, they have the responsibility to remember the past
Developing Reconciliation Action Plans is a journey to building collaborative partnerships with Indigenous Australians and ensuring your business operates in sustainable and ethical ways.What is a RAP? A Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) provides a useful framework for organisations to think about and commit to diversity, inclusivity and take strategic actions towards national reconciliation. They are designed specifically for workplaces and involve a formal process of accreditation. RAP is based on core values of relationships, respect, and opportunities – providing substantive benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, increasing economic equity and supporting First Nations self-determination. Why should my construction business have a reconciliation action plan? Being able to sustain a successful organisation in the long term isn’t just about operational efficiency. Organisations should recognise the interests and concerns of its publics and make an effort towards engaging with them. This is what we call a two-way model of communication. Construction companies builds roads, rail networks, hospitals, schools, residential housing across Australia, and it is important to recognise that they do this on land that has been in the custodianship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples for more than 60,000 years. Part of building a two-way communication with publics is investing in actions towards reconciliation. Implementing a RAP can help construction companies develop mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders and sustain long term operations. RAPs allow businesses to formalise their commitment to reconciliation and consolidate their good intentions into action. Once your organisation has official accreditation by Reconciliation Australia, you can share and promote your RAP externally. Construction companies like CPB Contractors and BuildCorp launched their RAP as part of their Corporate Social Initiatives for diversity and inclusion, and engagement with people and the community. Developing a meaningful RAP Below are our tips on making the most of your RAP
- Be realistic: Understand the costs of the targets you want to achieve and be realistic about the number of targets you set. The proportion of Indigenous graduates in the construction sector each year is small so don’t overestimate your employment targets.
- Meaningful Engagement: Indigenous Australians are some of the most consulted people and this has resulted in Elders being burnt out. Look at how you can meaningfully engage both directly and indirectly with them. Traditional methods of knowledge extraction with Indigenous communities have had a “what’s in it for me” mentality. If you are engaging directly with Indigenous peoples, talk to them and give them the opportunity to express their concerns and ideas. Be a good listener and have the right mindset to take new perspectives on board.
- Practise what you preach: Communicate your commitment to reconciliation to all staff and engage external stakeholders in your reconciliation journey. Research best practises in areas of race relations and anti-discrimination. Have a designated committee to oversee the implementation of RAP. Ensure mechanisms are in place to measure and evaluate action.