#IYouWe: Allyship in Construction
Change is coming for the construction industry.
As national conversations emerge surrounding how to make our communities and industries more inclusive, Build California is committed to doing our part. Join us as #IYouWe make the construction industry and California better for all.
Our state of California is diverse, with different identities and backgrounds, and it’s up to us to make our industry welcoming to all.
Let’s start with allyship.
Allyship is “a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people.”i Put simply, every member of our construction family deserves to be heard, respected, treated equitably, and given fair access to opportunities.
Here are three ways to dedicate yourself to be an active ally in our industry:
Listen and Learn
We can only make a change if we listen to each other and have some tough conversations.
Conversations about the roles of race, gender, sexuality, and more in the workplace are necessary to increase understanding among everyone and identify opportunities for improvement. In fact, we might not be aware of issues in the workplace if we don’t create the opportunity to talk about them.
Management can lead the charge here and open the dialogue on a company level. While these conversations may not be easy or even pleasant to have, they open the way for allyship unlike ever before.
In the Harvard Business Review’s “Toward a Racially Just Workplace,” authors Roberts and Mayo say, “Charged topics like these can provoke resentment, anger, and shame. But we need real exchanges about them if we want to […] ensure that everyone feels heard, supported, and authentic at work.”ii
Build California is listening and learning with our #IYouWe Instagram Live series, where we invite members of the industry to discuss how we can make positive changes towards inclusion and increased representation. Check it out here.
Whether you’re an apprentice, a journeyperson, or a manager, everyone is entitled to fair, equitable treatment. If, however, you or a fellow construction worker aren’t receiving that, don’t let it slide — speak up!
We’ll only improve as an industry if we hold each other accountable, advocate for each other, and act as true allies.
In her Ladders article on allyship in the workplace, Elaine Lipworth says, “True allyship means moving away from “optical allyship” […], and moving into meaningful action, speaking out on social issues, and fostering an inclusive environment in and out of the workplace.”iii
At the company level, decide who is the main point of contact for bringing issues to light. By making it clear who to confide in, workers feel more comfortable and confident coming forward, and managers can then plan a course of action. Whether this is your Human Resources Manager or a special position for Diversity and Inclusion, make sure this resource is made known to everyone.
An industry doesn’t just change overnight, but don’t be discouraged. There will be bumps along the way in becoming allies, and we’ll make mistakes — and that’s okay.
If you make a mistake, be open to learning some more and find ways to improve in the future. Accountability is key.
Doing the work to transform construction for the better might be uncomfortable, but that means we’re breaking free from the status quo and opening opportunities for everyone who wants to build a California for all.