Construction Inclusion Week is October 16 – 20, 2023. This week celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) while highlighting the changes that need to be made in the construction industry.
According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s report, Building for the Future: Advancing Equal Employment Opportunity in the Construction Industry, women and people of color are greatly underrepresented in the construction industry, especially in higher-skilled, higher-paid positions.
- Women only make up 11% of construction workers, holding only 8.5% of management positions while they make up 47% of the overall US workforce.
- African Americans make up nearly 7% of construction workers, holding just over 5% of management positions, while constituting about 13% of the US workforce.
- Hispanic workers are more represented, constituting more than 34% of workers but are significantly underrepresented in higher paying positions.
Not only do women and persons of color represent a small percentage of highly skilled construction workers, but they face discrimination based on sex, race and national origin. According to the EEOC’s report, discrimination in recruitment, apprenticeships and hiring blocks access to good-paying construction careers while unequal treatment in the terms and conditions of employment—including training, hours, and work assignments—hinders advancement and pushes many women and workers of color out of the industry.
Construction Inclusion Week aims to build awareness about the need to improve diversity and inclusion in the construction industry by providing content and resources.
What is Construction Inclusion Week?
Construction Inclusion Week (CIW) was launched in 2021 with the goal to:
- Stand united in setting expectations and promoting consistent behavior.
- Champion inclusion that empowers the industry to reach its full potential, fueling innovation and connection with employees, clients, industry partners, and communities.
- Harness and leverage the capabilities and global reach of the construction industry and its affiliates to cultivate and perpetuate diversity, equity, and inclusion.
CIW’s intent is to foster conversations that create alignment and take the industry further on the inclusion journey for its people and industry partners. The organization behind CIW recognizes that if those in the industry want to attract, retain, and develop the best talent and maximize the diversity of suppliers, it must grow the industry’s culture to be truly inclusive.
To accomplish these goals, CIW offers planning resources like 2023’s curriculum content that includes downloadable resources for each day of the week.
Why are CIW and DE&I Important?
CIW highlights the need for DE&I initiatives which are not only the right thing to do, but strengthen a company’s workforce with increased performance, a larger labor pool and more innovation.
- Increased Performance. Companies with diverse staff, especially on the executive level, can become more productive and profitable. McKinsey studies have shown that companies with more than 30% of women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from 10 to 30% sometimes by almost half. Companies with racial or cultural diversity outperformed others by up to 36%.
- Larger Labor Pool. Refocusing your recruitment strategy to include underrepresented candidates can help you expand your labor pool, necessary for the current worker shortage. According to Jackson Lewis, DEI policies can be used to create pipelines for recruiting diverse employees and educational and training opportunities (including language or skills training programs) to retain them and advance their careers. Plus, a diverse workforce can make a company more attractive to potential employees and also customers.
- More Innovation. Diversity in the workplace helps foster innovation, creativity and empathy in ways that homogeneous environments seldom do. The more diverse your workforce, the more opportunities there are for sharing different thoughts and ideas that can improve your processes. It may be said that great minds think alike, but diverse minds think outside of the box, necessary for companies that need to rethink strategies and processes.
How can Construction Companies Participate?
Companies can download the CIW’s resources to get started. CIW provides educational and business resources for the construction industry including office teams, craft and jobsite crews and industry affiliates. The curriculum includes live-streamed content, facilitator tools and more curriculum resources. Construction Inclusion Week also provides a planning guide.
This guide is designed to enable your firm to participate in Construction Inclusion Week 2023 and plan your own internal activities. The materials and resources will bring awareness to diversity, equity and inclusion concepts for job sites, teams and companies.
Construction companies should also consider boosting DE&I efforts. DE&I efforts can include taking extra steps in your hiring process to ensure individuals of various races, genders, ages, abilities and sexual orientations are treated equitably when being considered for a position. This extends to creating career development paths that don’t limit or target advancement to only certain types of people. It can also involve creating mentorship opportunities for young professionals which can help create opportunities to develop professional networks among diverse individuals.
Companies can also develop a DE&I plan. According to SHRM, developing DE&I initiatives involves collecting data to help determine the need for change, designing a strategy that matches your business objectives, implanting the initiative and evaluating and continuing to audit the plan. The most important part is making sure leadership is behind the change.
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