Breaking The Mold: How Diversity in The Construction Industry Will Help Build a Better Tomorrow
By: Kaylee Martin
This week, Construction Inclusion Week is in full swing – helping construction professionals across the country begin, or further emphasize, their commitment to maintaining diverse, inclusive work environments. Sprouting from the need to improve diversity in the industry, Construction Inclusion Week is all about spreading awareness and supporting contractors in their journey to build a more varied workforce no matter what stage of the process they find themselves in. Whether they be a dedicated supporter of workplace diversity or a group that is taking its first steps into this realm of team development, this all-embracing week will challenge construction leaders and teammates alike to open their minds to the benefits of building a force of bright minds and able hands that come from a wide variety of backgrounds.
How Do Construction Organizations Benefit From Diversity?
As the newest generation enters the workforce, the Construction Industry is seeing declines in hiring rates and huge workforce shortages. In the midst of this newfound struggle, diversifying the search for future construction professionals can help mitigate this issue for many companies. Not only this, but building a team that is more inclusive can lead to a greater reputation, a better understanding of different employee backgrounds, and more opportunities to engage in minority communities – once again opening up more opportunities for hiring from a greater pool.
When a workplace is made up of a varied group of individuals, decisions can be made with far more contributing perspectives. When more unique ideas are on the table, a diverse team can solve difficult issues with creative solutions in less time than those with one dominant voice. Overall, this can contribute positively to company performance as longtime goals are met and as new, helpful processes take effect.
Perhaps the most important facet of company structure, the culture in which each team member is subject to can differ enormously based on an organization’s approach to diversity and inclusion. With the Construction Industry being almost 80% white and 90% male in 2021, it can be easy for company culture to swing in favor of this massive group. However, as more women, people of color, and others from differing backgrounds join the team, the culture can change and grow for the better, granting a broader perspective to those who may have originally had a narrower viewpoint.
How Can Contractors Be More Inclusive?
One hurdle to diversity in this industry is the many barriers that minorities face when trying to find belonging and make space for themselves in their work environment. For example, Spanish-speaking employees can often be outcast or limited in their tasks due to language barriers, and women may find it hard to fit in when being consistently outnumbered by men. By working towards removing these obstacles, diversity can finally thrive in the world of Construction.
Commit To Employee Development
Between in-office classes and hands-on job training, it is the responsibility of the employer to offer professional development if they want to grow a successful, knowledgeable team and promote from within. However, minority employees are often overlooked when advancement opportunities are up for grabs. By preparing each and every team member for success regardless of their race, gender, or age, those coming from marginalized communities are more likely to find belonging in an environment in which they feel valued and encouraged to progress through the ranks.
Perhaps the most important thing that a Construction leader can do to maintain an inclusive company culture is to remain informed on the issues, successes, and needs of their minority team members. Ignorance or blatant disregard for these concerns will lead to lower employee satisfaction and could even drive the push for diversity into the ground. Overall, staying on top of the ever-changing world of what these groups face and offering a helping hand can make all the difference in maintaining inclusivity in the Construction world.
What Does Construction Inclusivity Week Mean to Us?
As an organization devoted to creating a more diverse trades world, She Built This City wholeheartedly supports the efforts of this event and will work tirelessly until its mission is achieved. By asserting ourselves as an industrial diversity and inclusion hiring success partner, we aim to help contractors of all sizes build their inclusive workforce by preparing youth, women, and those in other marginalized communities to enter into the skilled trades with the ability and know-how to succeed in typically male-dominated industries.
One way in which we are making an effort to bolster diversity in the Construction Industry, and the trades world as a whole, is through our End of Year Giving Campaign. Through this, we are challenging both our corporate partners and individual supporters of workplace diversity in the skilled trades to donate funds in hopes of raising $150,000 in order to back the salaries of our Women @ Work Repair Crew Apprentices. The women in this program make up a talented team that are hard at work learning a variety of skills including HVAC repair, plumbing, carpentry, and much more. Upon completion of this program, these students will be qualified to seek employment as Facilities Engineers in any Residential, Industrial, or Commercial environment. By contributing to this campaign, donors are aiding in building a future in which women and other minority groups in the skilled trades are viewed as capable, intelligent professionals in their field of choice.
If you or any friends, family, or colleagues feel compelled to donate to this cause, please click here to contribute to the Women @ Work Repair Crew. Through the generosity of donors, we will be able to continue our trek towards a more diverse and inclusive workforce both in the Construction Industry and all other skilled trades, further proving to all that it is
United We Spark!
About the Author: Currently a Project Administrator at Hoopaugh Grading Company in Charlotte, NC, Kaylee has enjoyed learning about and sharing experiences from the skilled trades since her childhood. Accompanying her father to construction job sites as a young girl, she saw first-hand how those working in the trades shared values of hard work and camaraderie – knowing then that this was the field she wanted to be in. Since then, Kaylee has found a way to marry her love of the skilled trades with her love of writing by working together with She Built This City to help spread our message and share our stories!