Let’s face it, even after intense efforts at change, there is still a common misconception that the construction industry is made up of a group of white men wearing hard hats and safety vests walking around with boots on them. hand shovels. While we all know this is no longer accurate, there is one aspect of this stereotype that has not changed significantly.
While it varies by region, the largest percentage of the workforce on U.S. construction sites continues to be white males. In “Diversity in construction: where we are, where we need to go” (https://bit.ly/3E2rVaZ), global professional recruiting consultancy Michael Page cites the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that only 9.9% of construction professionals are women; 30.7% are Hispanic or Latino; 6.2% are black; and barely 2% are Asian. And while the United States does not collect data on LGBTQI + representation, UK data shows it only represents 2% of the construction workforce in this region.
Clearly, construction lags when you take into account the racial and gender mix of the American workforce, as well as the focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I) within other industries. Several factors explain this, including the lack of relevant initiatives among construction employers. While this changes, there is work to be done.
Beyond any altruistic and even political aspects behind D&I initiatives, there is a business case for implementing a program within your organization. According to a 2018 report by McKinsey, gender and ethnic diversity can be clearly correlated with profitability. Companies with diverse leadership teams have been shown to be up to 33% more likely to outperform their competitors financially.
“D&I initiatives can also provide intangibles such as innovative ideas and creative problem solving,” writes Cathy Chatfield-Taylor in the article. “Diversity of the construction workforce improves productivity and profits” (Redshift.autodesk.com). “Diverse perspectives negate the tendency of companies to do things the way they always have been and reduce the risk of group thinking. “
The article goes on to quote Jennifer Suerth, vice president of technical services at Pepper Construction Company, who predicts that the industry will experience an increase in productivity as diversity increases due to new ideas being put forward.
Consortium emphasizes inclusion
A growing number of companies and industry leaders are not only adopting but defending D&I initiatives. A clear example is the Time for Change consortium, founded in 2020 by six like-minded general contractors seeking to change the overall composition of the construction workforce.
Gilbane, DPR, Turner Construction, Mortenson, McCarthy and Clark Construction have formed the consortium with the goal of identifying ways to advance diversity, equity and inclusion within the industry. On its website, the consortium notes that it recognizes and understands that construction companies “can be in different places in their diversity, equity and inclusion journeys.” As such, he launched the first Construction Inclusion Week to foster conversations that can help them move further down this path.
Taking place from October 18 to 22, the week-long program will follow the theme “Building the foundations for inclusion”. Its website provides access to relevant material and resources, as well as daily topic suggestions to encourage discussion between teams and within organizations.
ACBM staff“Construction Inclusion Week will raise awareness, celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion while providing educational and business resources to our industry,” Mortenson points out in its statement on the program. “By working together, learning from each other and having consistent commitments and actions to maintain a safe and inclusive work environment – free from harassment, hatred or bigotry of any kind and where every individual belongs – the Week the inclusion of construction will bring about positive change in the industry for generations of workers to come.
Robby Moser, President and CEO, Clark Construction, see the week as “A unique opportunity to leverage our voices and our collective resources to identify and resolve the main industrial and societal challenges. He adds, “Clark is honored to be part of this industry-wide journey to create and foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion where our people and communities can thrive. “
Views of Turner Construction Company participation in the program as an opportunity to learn from each other and to “speak with one voice”. “Through collaboration, proactive engagement and purposeful actions, Turner will effect positive change where people celebrate and embrace diversity, drive inclusion and where fairness is apparent,” the company commented in a press release. announcing the program.
The larger goal is to create a work environment that can attract the best and brightest from all aspects of the company. As the Construction Inclusion Week website points out, the industry must be prepared to develop its culture to become truly inclusive “if we are truly to attract, retain and develop the best talent for our industry and maximize the diversity of our suppliers” .