Why Diversity is a Key to the Construction Industry’s Future
October 13, 2015By Brian Murray
Increasingly, the construction industry is beginning to embrace the tenets of diversity and inclusion. This shift is propelled by a business case that highlights projected shortcomings related to talent and skilled labor.
A recent industry report lays out the factors driving this trend. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate has dropped to a seven-year low of 5.1 percent. Simultaneously, U.S. labor-force participation has dipped to a 30-year low of 62.4 percent, and a global workforce shortage of 95 million people is projected by 20201.
When combined, this all translates to a massive shortage of talent, an issue that is a hot topic within the construction industry in particular. With the industry projected to grow 21.4 percent between 2012 and 20222 while grappling with an aging workforce and a shrinking pool of skilled labor, there is an increasing need to more vigorously attract, recruit and train new members of the workforce. Statistics indicate that these new workers will come from diverse populations. Further widening the gap, the impact of the past economic recession significantly reduced the availability of diverse subcontractors and vendors. All of these things are giving rise to the recognition that it is in the industry’s best interest to embrace diversity and inclusion in order to sustain success.
As the industry begins to recognize diversity and inclusion as keys to our future sustainability, more leaders of top contractors are beginning to talk about initiatives to create a more diverse workforce. For instance, the Associated Builders and Contractors held its first annual Diversity & Inclusion Summit in 2015 to discuss important issues related to diversity and inclusion within the industry.
Also, the definition of diversity is expanding beyond the confines of race, gender, ethnicity, and other traditional measures to include diversity of thought, background and experience—particularly as a diverse set of perspectives has become widely accepted as a driver of innovation.
Companies that understand the need for diversity and inclusion and develop policies and culture to support it are better poised to compete. In addition to a wider talent pool to draw from, these companies can benefit from improved employee retention and work relationships based on respect for differences, environments that foster innovation, and a more diverse supply chain.
While our industry is starting to gain positive momentum in working toward greater diversity and inclusion, there is much room for improvement in this key area that is so critical to our industry’s future. We’ll continue working to build strength in our company and within our industry through diversity and inclusion.
1 Source: McKinsey Global Institute Report: The world at work: Jobs, pay, and skills for 3.5 billion people
2 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics