A recent research shows that 88.6 of construction workers in the United States identify as white and over 90% are male. With such stats, it’s easy to see why Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) has been a hot topic in the recent past. Experts argue that the trend is worrying, partly explaining why the industry is always understaffed.
Encouragingly, businesses in the construction industry are becoming more active in hiring and working with people of diverse backgrounds and gender. Moreover, more businesses are educating their workforces about the importance of D&I and why more needs to be done to improve the same in the construction industry.
The Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion in the Construction Industry
Recently, diversity has been a buzzword in the construction industry. The “pressure” for more diversity in the industry has been so much to the extent that construction trade associations, such as Associated Builders and Contractors, ABC, have developed inclusive policies and councils to help push the agenda.
With increased labor shortages and increasing project complexity in the construction industry, we cannot underestimate the benefits of diversity and inclusion. The main advantages include:
Diversity and Inclusion Can Help Improve a Company’s Reputation
A construction company that manages to see diversity through a broad lens is on track to improve its reputation. By “seeing diversity through a broad lens,” it means focusing on more than just genders, cultural backgrounds, ages, and races. Diversity also involves lifestyles, learning styles, and personalities.
A construction company can experience more significant gains from this holistic perspective and stand apart from its competitors. The ability of a construction company to embrace diversity plays a huge role in improving its reputation.
Usually, your employer branding represents how your current employees and other candidates looking for opportunities in your venture view your company. Professionals will always prefer construction companies that embrace diversity, where everyone feels important and as part of the company’s culture and goals.
The more you highlight staff diversity or push several initiatives that focus on inclusivity, you will likely be an employer of choice for most professionals. Additionally, the community can always look at how you run your company and draw conclusions on their own. The more diverse you are, the better your reputation.
Diversity Helps Improve the Company’s Performance
Especially in the construction industry, performance and productivity play a massive role in determining a company’s success. There are no boundaries as to where you can source your best recruits. If anything, studies show that you can get the most qualified workers by widening the candidate pool from which you conduct your search.
In a separate report by Gallup, the findings show that removing bias and embracing diversity during the interview processes can reduce absenteeism by about 41% and reduce on-site accidents by 70%. McKinsey & Co further underline these findings by indicating that gifted employees are the backbone of increased performance in a company.
Given that the construction industry keeps growing in complexity, there is more demand for high-performing workers. What better way to achieve that than through diversity?
Diversity and Inclusion Is Important for Fostering Engagement
Studies show that employees who work in a diverse environment are happier and more engaged than those who do not. For the construction industry, this is especially important because most of the work depends on communication and teamwork.
According to a speech at the ABC’s 2016 summit on diversity in construction by Kirby Wu, president of WU & Associates, increased diversity has positively impacted his company’s culture and success. More candidates will be willing to work for you and be comfortable doing so if they believe that a company embraces diversity.
Diversity and Inclusion Can Help Solve Labor Shortage
Labor shortage issues have hit the construction industry for a considerable amount of time. According to reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 263,000 construction jobs were open in June 2018, increasing from 202,000 in the previous year.
With such a severe labor shortage, the industry needs all hands on deck, with one possible solution being prioritizing diversity to broaden companies’ pool of potential employees. Fortunately, the U.S workforce is beginning to embrace more diversity, possibly addressing the labor shortage issue.
According to the BLS, white representation in the construction industry’s labor force will have dropped by about 17.5% by 2060. On the other hand, the Hispanic representation will rise by about 13.7%.
Decision Making and Innovation Relies on Diversity and Inclusion
Critical reasoning skills are some of the most needed skills in the construction industry, and diversity helps to enhance the same. Studies show that better and quick solutions are arrived at when different people share their ideas.
A separate report by Mckinsey indicates that construction companies with diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to produce better results than those which are not diversified. The logic here is simple; if you bring in people from diverse backgrounds, the chances are they have different methods of problem-solving and decision-making. As a result, when all the suggestions are tabled, there is a slight chance that they will fail — the chances of success are always high.
Recruiting women and other minorities into the construction industry translates to having more talented and smarter employees working in companies. Diversity and inclusion help improve decision-making and innovation — these are important for any successful construction company.
Tips on How to Increase Diversity in the Construction Industry
Let’s face it; even though the stakeholders in the construction industry are beginning to see the importance of diversity and inclusion, the execution process is still slow. There is no doubt that we can benefit more from diversity and inclusion.
However, the only way to benefit from these values is by practicing them in the first place. Here are some tips that companies in the industry can use to get started:
Creating an Inclusive Environment
Companies in the construction industry should hire candidates based on their professional abilities. This means that we should see more women and people from marginalized communities take up roles in the industry.
By creating an inclusive environment, more people will be encouraged to join this lucrative industry, and soon, things like labor shortages will be a thing of the past. An inclusive environment is also easier to work in, improving productivity in the process.
Solve Problems from the Roots Up
One of the best ways of solving a nagging problem is by addressing it from its roots. For the longest time, the construction industry in the United States has had a problem accepting diversity and inclusion.
Developing employee networks can be a great starting point to address this problem. While it is true that you can create a lot of these networks, you need to start with one or two before moving to bigger ones.
Having Proper Channels of Communication
Like in any other workplace, communication is a fundamental aspect of the construction industry. Without proper communication, factors such as decision-making and innovation are undermined. Effective communication also makes employees have a sense of belonging.
To be productive, they must see and have the same vision as the company’s executive. To achieve this, the executives must communicate their goals and how they intend to meet them.
Create More Educational Opportunities
Having more educational opportunities is another way of improving diversity in the construction industry. Everyone who seeks education today is prepared to succeed in a diverse organization and more global workforce than before.
Through education, people learn the importance of working together towards a common goal. If this is transferred to the construction industry, we will witness a revolution in diversity, which we all want for the future. It is one way of solving the serious labor shortage rocking the industry.
Overcoming Language Barriers
The language barrier in any organization can significantly hinder the progress of the construction industry at large. During an interview, you might find a perfect candidate for what they do. However, since the candidate might not understand the language of the natives, you end up not hiring them.
In the current world, where there is a serious workforce shortage in the industry, we cannot turn away qualified personnel because of language barriers.
If you can find measures that will help overcome the language barriers in your company and implement them accordingly, you will have cracked the first puzzle of embracing diversity and inclusion.
The Key Takeaway
Diversity and inclusion in the construction industry are values that have been talked about a lot in the recent past, and rightfully so. The benefits that come with these values to the industry are immeasurable. From boosting the company’s reputation to improving innovation and fostering engagement, there is no limit to what we can do with these incredible values.
Usually, when people talk about diversity, they think of race, gender, and background; it is more than that. It also involves learning styles, lifestyles, and personalities. To improve diversity, companies in the construction industry need to facilitate effective communication, offer more educational opportunities, promote a more inclusive environment, and look for ways to overcome language barriers.Contact us to have any questions answered.