#IYouWe: Building a More Diverse Industry is Good Business
In the construction family, we’re proud to have workers from all walks of life. We know your generation is more diverse than any generation before, and the future California workforce deserves an industry committed to that diversity. But, there’s still work to do.
Systemic, positive change in the industry can start with decisions made by construction leaders, and it’s good for business, too. Not only does it make the industry welcoming for all, but research consistently shows that companies that embrace diversity and inclusion outperform those that don’t. It’s just that simple.
Trade companies that broaden the identity of their workforce see a new frontier for growth and a chance to grow the family. Creating opportunities for all to shine is a win-win strategy.
Take note though — it’s not enough to simply increase the numbers of the underrepresented. Together, we have to uplift, amplify, and honor the voices that have been unheard before.
Here are a few strategies companies can, and currently, use to ensure we’re creating a better, more inclusive industry for you.
Every Story Matters
Regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender identity, language, physical ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, size, or socioeconomic status, everyone has unique talents and experiences.
Honoring those unique talents and experiences is critical for workforce development, too. When people are appreciated, they perform better.
As industry leaders, we have to make sure each worker is valued for their individual story and has a chance to flourish while working together to get the job done. We’ll make sure we know your story!
Cut Through Biases
Admitting that we all have biases is the first step toward achieving a sustainable return on investment (ROI) through diversity and inclusion at our companies.
To make real progress, management should dig deep and assess the written and unwritten rules at work, evaluate systems and processes, and question how things are done — and do it often.
We have to ask: Do our companies provide opportunities for all employees to advance, learn, and have their contributions taken seriously? We’ll take time to set targets and measurements to answer that question clearly moving forward.
Change requires a commitment to visiting and revisiting the culture of our companies and the industry as a whole frequently to discover any roadblocks, and temperature checks are a great way to hold us accountable.
Create a Plan
Truly delivering on a promise of diversity and inclusion requires a solid plan. Companies should set targets around the following areas.
You have an inclusion problem if you have frequent turnover — it’s an indication that employees coming from diverse backgrounds don’t feel valued.
If companies have this issue, leadership should take note of which employees they’re losing, and a pattern may emerge. Even small differences in retention rates can have a huge effect on company success, so we’ll keep an eye out for groups who may need more attention and find solutions to better meet their needs.
Communication is a Two-way Street
Perhaps the most direct way to engage with our employees about these topics is the simplest: We’ll just ask.
Construction leaders can collect data in a non-threatening, open dialogue with anonymous surveys, for example.
With surveys, we can ask employees if they agree with statements like, “I feel like I have a future with the company,” and “I trust my company to make an effort to retain a diverse workforce.”
Employers should regularly ask questions that gauge employee experiences, how their daily routine interacting with company processes can be improved, and their thoughts on the company as a whole.
We’ll listen to every voice. Inclusion is a celebration of diversity, not a numbers game.
We’ll also put our money where our mouth is — literally.
Construction leaders: Are you aware of any pay inequities? Take a hard look. Do men and women in the same roles earn the same pay? Do minorities? Include not only salaries and wages but also look at bonuses, perks, etc.
If pay inequities exist, it’s time to address them.
It’s not enough to retain diverse employees — companies also need to promote them. Companies should set targets for advancing women, ethnic and racial minorities, and other diverse employees into senior roles.
It’s a fruitful business practice, too. A McKinsey study of 366 public organizations found that ethnically diverse companies were 35% more likely to be more profitable than their competitors. In fact, for every 10% increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the executive team, U.S. companies’ earnings rose by 0.8%.
Do the Work Together
When people feel included, they are inspired to do their best work. The more we implement these strategies to promote diversity and inclusion, the better we can make the industry a successful place to work for people of all backgrounds. #IYouWe can build a better California.