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Even with a lot of focus recently on diversity in the workplace, construction is still a male-dominated industry. According to recent surveys, women make up less than 10% of the construction workforce.

There is a higher percentage of women serving in Congress (currently 23.7%) and in the active duty military (14%). Women do, in fact, make up 47% of the total civilian workforce. So, as the construction industry looks for ways to hire and develop skilled labor, diversity has become more important than ever.

There are several challenges to increasing diversity, specifically among women in construction that need to be addressed. These include unwelcome worksites, sexual harassment issues, flexibility and the perception by others that women on the team are not as capable for projects that require manual labor. It’s not the women, it’s the environment and the culture.

So what can a construction company do to address these challenges? First, educate the men and women in the company about diversity and company expectations regarding a safe work environment. Also, provide opportunities for networking and training. Finally, review compensation structure to make sure that your company enforces a policy of equal pay for equal talent.

There are several resources available to help increase diversity at your company and support the women there already. The National Association of Women in Construction, Professional Women in Construction, as well as other local organizations have tools, education materials, conferences and other resources available.

Construction companies, as well as other organizations, are finding diversity is the key to success. Now is a good time to start the conversation, or companies may be left behind.


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