4 Challenges Blocking Diversity in Construction

Building professionals should get serious about incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion practices into their brand messaging.

Marketing can help attract a more diverse building industry workforce.


We get it. Introducing initiatives centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) isn't a top priority for most building industry professionals. And why would it be when the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics recently reported that 88.6% of construction workers identify as white and more than 90% are male? Simply put, demographics are changing.


A new survey conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) in 2021 revealed half of the U.S. population under the age of 30 identify as a race other than white, confirming the next generation of workers will be the most diverse in history. So what does that mean for you? If you want to grow your business, you need to start marketing to future workers. That starts with prioritizing DE&I and addressing the following challenges currently blocking diversity across the building industry.


Challenge #1: Making leadership care about DE&I initiatives

The most effective leadership teams treat DE&I programs as a long-term investment in the company. And while current statistics about white men dominating the building industry suggest DE&I initiatives aren't necessary, the growing need to market your company in a way that appeals to a more diverse workforce is inevitable.


Take a moment to reflect on the life-altering events you’ve witnessed thus far. Each one feels like it happened just a few years ago, right? Approaching DE&I through that same lens will give you the tools right now to snag more diverse talent five, 10, or even 15 years into the future. Start by owning your commitment to DE&I across all channels, including your website and social media accounts, where external partners and potential hires go to learn more about your business.


Challenge #2: Writing DE&I policies – and putting them into action

In the same NIBS survey, 43% of respondents confirmed their company had introduced DE&I initiatives but had yet to see them put into action. Truly committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion looks like conducting training sessions for unconscious bias, enacting anti-harassment policies, and revisiting requirements for promotion to ensure all employees have the opportunity to advance. 


These programs will ultimately become a part of the marketing platform that sets you apart from the competition. But you can’t promote your company as more inclusive unless you're being intentional and doing the work to actually increase diversity.


Challenge #3: Implementing diverse recruiting and hiring practices

The best DE&I programs also incorporate recruiting and hiring practices that encourage a diverse candidate pool. These include updating job descriptions to remove the exclusive language, re-writing job posts to attract more candidates, using a blind resume review process to decrease unconscious bias, and revamping your onboarding process to cater to different types of hires. 


Beyond making internal changes, it helps to highlight company culture on your website and social media accounts and review the marketing materials used to promote your company. Do these platforms reflect the inclusive community you aspire to create? If they don’t, keep pushing.


Challenge #4: Combating workplace harassment and violence

Zero-tolerance policies against harassment and violence aren’t effective if employees aren’t able to do their jobs without worrying about personal safety. This is especially relevant to workers in the building industry, who are reportedly dealing simultaneously with heavy-duty equipment and high levels of harassment. 


According to the NIBS survey, 72% of Black or African American respondents, 48% of East Asian respondents, and 48% of South Asian respondents experienced discrimination or prejudice at work based on ethnicity. An additional 41% of Hispanic or Latinx respondents, 43% of Native American, Alaskan Native, or First Nations respondents, 38% of East Asian respondents, and 35% of Middle Eastern or North African respondents shared similar experiences.  


Beyond telling people to treat each other better, you can show them how to treat each other better by hosting panel discussions and providing opportunities for your workforce to learn together. When team members understand each other, they work better together and make your company stronger. Prioritizing education about DE&I right now is a vital first step. 


Sources: Construction Dive, Safesite

Photo Credit: Pexels

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