058 Building People with Rebecca Lovelace

Building People CIC, a co-founder of Be Onsite and BuildForce, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. With twenty years’ experience in the industry, Rebecca brings expertise in maximising the social impact of construction projects through enabling collaboration between multiple stakeholders and individuals from diverse and disadvantaged local communities, with a particular focus on social value. 

The Job of the Chief Dot-Joiner 

Coming from the international humanitarian aid world and dealing with homelessness, Rebecca Lovelace started off in the property industry accidentally. She founded Building People, a platform that brings together people, opportunities, resources, knowledge and needs. She talks about the platform, her title as the Chief Dot-Joiner, but also the imposter syndrome she has felt in the industry for a while. 

“I purposely talk about the Built Environment rather than just construction,” she explains. “Building People’s role is to amplify the voices across the sector, and I took the title Chief Dot-Joiner for two reasons. Since I don’t have a business background, calling myself Chief Executive Officer would sound too grown up, and not really aligned with my personality. Also, it’s just the simple point that all we need to do is join up the fragmented activity within the equality, diversity, inclusion and the social space.”

“The imposter syndrome lasted until I went up on stage at the National Association of Women in Construction conference. The audience was 99% women, and when I spoke, I felt comfortable and confident, I felt listened to. That’s where I realised that I was putting this fear on myself because the industry was made up of men, and I didn’t fit in. I was listening to that negativity rather than all of that support that was just waiting for me to open up to it. I felt that I wasn’t one of them until I suddenly realised that I’ve been in the industry for 20 years, and what I do is so niche, that I don’t know anybody else who does what I do. So now I feel confident and comfortable saying that I do know what I’m talking about.”

Bringing 300 Organisations to Building People

Building People nurtures a holistic approach to the built environment. Rebecca talks about the importance of connecting different organizations that can work together towards the same goal, as well as intersectionality within her platform. 

“Building People brings all of these organizations together,” she explains. “So far, we’ve identified about 300, and we have over 10% that come together for quarterly meetings. It’s quite simple, we just say, right now, what are our key challenges? Number one is always funding. What is it that we can achieve by coming together? These are the voices that aren’t part of the narrative. They’re all operating out there in the ether. Let’s enable people to keep innovating and keep growing, but do it within a strategic, collaborative movement for change.”

“You can go into Building People, and find content relating to equality, diversity, inclusion, social value skills, relevant events and activities, opportunities for work, experience, jobs, and resources. We’re now in a position where we’ve created the end product that absolutely works and can be self-sustaining. If people really do want to collaborate, then use Building People, it’s free,” Rebecca says proudly. 

How to Join the Dots Between Different Stakeholders

Rebecca goes on to explain how organizations can amplify their voices through Building People and help build and expand the community. At the same time, Building People can connect businesses with individuals from diverse and disadvantaged local communities.

“Why do businesses choose to recruit diversity? Some do it because it’s the right thing to do. Some recognise they’ll win more work by having a diverse workforce that brings more innovation. Our thought was quite simple. If we put a widget on your website, you can talk to one another and share things, and if every one of the 35 members of our community groups were to adopt that integrated model, and then every 300, then it’s a simple connection. There is a real interest in being more diverse, particularly for SMEs and micro services. How do we do it? How do we recruit more women? Where do we find them? We’ve seemed to have provided that answer. We can create a space.”

Leading Vs. Running a Business

Rebecca talks about the experience of setting up her own business and working for herself. Among other things, she says it is crucial to find people to work with, but also being open to offers of help.

“I don’t feel that I’m destined to run a business, because I don’t particularly enjoy that. What I’m destined to do is to lead, but I don’t want that to sound arrogant. For me, it’s visualizing what the joined up opportunities can look like. It was crucial to find people to work with me, people that like spreadsheets, people that like tweeting and people that want to do this, and this is what slowly coalesced around Building People. People are drawn to something that they can feel part of. It comes from an inclusive, let’s-do-it-together approach. But it has to be different types of people that can hold different parts of the business,” Rebecca concludes. 

Connect with Rebecca Lovelace:

– LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-lovelace-7625013

Resources:

– Building People CIC https://www.buildingpeople.org.uk/

– BuildForce https://www.buildforce.org.uk/

– Be Onsite http://www.beonsite.org.uk/

– National Association of Women in Construction https://www.nawic.org/nawic/default.asp

– Royal Society of Arts https://www.thersa.org/

– The Surveyor Hub Community https://www.facebook.com/groups/the.surveyor.hub.bluebox.partners