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As we close out one of the most polarizing elections in our history, the construction industry is making headlines for its latest effort to strike down hatred and drive diversity and inclusivity. 

Historically, the majority of workers across the industry have been white males. Despite having representation in construction, Hispanic, African-American and Asian workers continue to face an uphill battle that is finally being addressed.

It was only months ago that jobsites across the United States shut down due to reports of hate crimes. Turner Construction has adopted a zero-tolerance policy, halting at least $2 billion in projects while anti-bias training took place. Now, we're seeing construction firms come together to take a stance.

Representing 13% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 7% of the working-age population, the challenge to cultivate and hire talent remains persistent, particularly among underserved communities. Across demographics, the bridges between laborers, general contractors and subcontracators have been “under construction” for far too long. Underserved communities are facing multiple challenges at once: lack of diversity, labor shortages and the global pandemic.

The moral code of equality is paramount, but further, the industry's success and future also rely on the actions taken here. In depth research shows that diversity correlates with above-average financial returns and, further, that inclusion drives a positive safety culture. Therefore, the lack of diversity across the industry is actually impeding greater success overall.

The time is now for employers and leaders across construction to connect with underserved communities looking for a point of entry and provide workers with tools and training that expands their skills and capabilities. These efforts should work in tandem with support for general contractors and employers. However, it’s key to keep in mind that the industry need workers to join crews to build communities, now more than ever.

Here are four simple things all in the construction industry can do today.

Drive Accessibility

Across the industry, jobs are typically matched through word of mouth, which can make it difficult for newcomers to enter the field. By increasing accessibility, leaders can open the door for a much broader and more diverse talent pool. By leveraging social media, companies can drive multicultural connections and engagement across a wide audience, expanding reach across communities.

Network Locally and Regionally

Contractors must get to know the groups in their communities that support or reach diverse groups by being active members of the community. Network with local community leaders who focus on diversity and inclusivity to uncover the challenges and employment needs. Be a resource that connects community members and leaders with real-time job openings and continue to collaborate in new ways. The more engaged contractors become, the greater the reach across populations and the more in-tune they will be to the local and regional needs. 

Make Career Growth Easy

Happy workers are workers that have access to training, career development opportunities and a clear path for success and career mobility for all. From the interview process to the promotion phase, it’s incredibly important to ensure crews and even potential employees feel supported. Leaders can first make the job search easier and more efficient, and then offer ongoing opportunities to expand skills and growth. 

Make it a Goal

Build diversity and inclusion into the recruiting process and try new channels to find workers. Also, by educating the entire team on the benefits of a diverse team, contractors will get more internal buy-in.

Society must ensure that workers of all races, creeds, religions and gender identities have equal access to career mobility and growth. The construction industry's health and stability has a profound impact on the global economy and, therefore, the future of the workforce. This is an opportunity for construction to grow, bring in more workers and improve culture. Happy diversifying.


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