Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) have been a hot topic in business circles for the better part of a decade. While DEI efforts in the construction industry have long been overlooked, it is time that as an industry we began to pay attention to DEI. Construction Inclusion Week was started by four leaders in the construction industry and their mission to proactively set the standard on how our industry can build an equitable future for all.
While the construction industry has pushed to close the gender wage gap there are numerous blind spots that keep us from fully setting an example for all industries. Simply “hiring a more diverse workforce” is just a start; instead, real change starts from the top. For any DEI initiative to bear fruit, there must be a visible buy-in from company leadership. The CEO/Owners of your organization must be the prime champion of your company’s DEI initiatives.
Attitude is everything – one of the key difference makers for DEI is as simple as how leadership treats its employees. In a recent panel on diversity, Suffolk Construction’s VP of Diversity and Inclusion, Linda Dorcena Forry pointed out that DEI success can hang on leadership treats people. Do you value the input from your whole team or is there a culture of exclusion? DEI should not only focus on putting different faces in a room, but it should also send a signal to your workforce that they can see themselves in that room as well.
DEI isn’t just a feel-good proposition. A recent study from McKinsey & Company found that top-quartile firms outperformed bottom-quartile companies by 36% in profitability. Further, organizations that embrace DEI find themselves out-innovating their competitors – being able to adapt more quickly and fluidly to changing environments and the needs of clients.
Even before the 2020 Pandemic upended the way we do business, the construction industry has been battling to not only find but keep talent. Companies with a strong commitment to DEI are more likely to retain talent and cut down the costs of rehiring, retraining, and the need for overtime and missed deadlines. With that in mind, the question is not, “why do we need DEI;” the real question we should ask as leaders is, how can we not afford to embrace DEI?