When I set out to write this year's post about Black History Month in construction I was looking to share how the work that we have done over the past few years to increase diversity in our industry was working - that we were getting better.
Unfortunately the statistics I was able to find only went to 2020. And the story the data tells did not support my hopes. As you can see from the graphics below (courtesy of the Bureau of Labor and Statistics), the percentage of black workers decreased from 2003 to 2020.
Well, that's not what I was hoping for.
OK, I still have hopes (have I mentioned that I am a glass half-full sort of a person?) that we have gotten better as an industry - that we have increased the diversity of our employee population in the past few years.
I am also not naïve.
The construction industry has a nasty reputation for being riddled is racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. (unfortunately this list goes on). Too recent of stories that include nooses being found on jobsites, women being whistled at, swastikas drawn in porta-potties, etc. come up more often than I care to share.
AND... I can also share that I get to talk about how to make a difference more than I am talking about recent incidents (thank goodness). Conversations are happening at the grassroots, as well as at the most senior, levels of organizations around what can we do better. How do we provide an experience that people of color want to join our industry?
As we recognize Black History Month in February I challenge you to do two things:
Look at your diversity numbers. How do you define diversity? Is your diversity where you want it to be? Are you increasing or decreasing the diversity of your organization? What about turnover, are you losing people of color at the same rate as others?
Ask yourself why? Assuming your data leaves something to be desired, dig into the why. And be open when you do so. For many organizations the most common voice (and experience) is that of white men. I say that not to judge nor imply anything, but to state a statistical fact. Also, to encourage you to recognize that fact, and to ask other voices in the room what they think. And to understand that they have a difference experience while in the same room as the majority.
Looking at data and asking these questions can be tough. It can mean that you may have missed something along the way. That's ok, we all make mistakes. It also means, we have the responsibility to correct our mistakes and do better.
Not sure where to start? No problem, let us help you dig into the data and facilitate the tough conversation. Click here to book a free half hour call to discuss the challenges you are facing and real solutions to help you.