March is Women's History Month, and specifically, March 6 through 12 is the 24th annual Women in Construction Week!
The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) hosts this annual week-long event as a way to promote the growing role of women and celebrate the work of women in the construction industry. This has been a celebration every year since 1998, and we've had a lot of progress in the past 24 years worth celebrating. In the spirit of this year's theme, "Envision Equity," let's do a deep dive into some ways that we can foster equity between men and women in construction.
Attracting new female talent
There's a nationwide labor shortage being talked about, and the construction industry is feeling that shortage. The older, skilled employees are starting to retire, but we have less incoming talent to fill those vacancies. That said, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 61% of the incoming workforce is female. You want to keep a full staff? Make yourself attractive to that incoming female talent.
How to do that?
Money talks! I'm sure you've heard of the wage gap; ensure that female employees are earning a competitive compensation.
Keep your job postings gender-neutral. If a candidate doesn't see herself in the job description, she will simply not apply.
Examine the hiring process. How many women are your candidates seeing throughout the recruiting and onboarding process? Aim to have women on the interview panel, so your candidates immediately see the diversity within the company.
Women supporting women
One of my clients has a women's network that is highly regarded, both by male and female employees. Creating networks (employee resources groups) like this allows women to feel seen and amplified in their workplace, and gives them strength to share their experiences. All of which allows us to work toward making their experiences better. I highly recommend implementing a support network for women in all organizations in order to empower those employees. When you do, ensure all employees are welcome and encourage high-tenured women to mentor the newer female employees too.
If the headshots of your senior leadership look a little homogenous (translation: a group of white men), aim to fix that. Industry-wide, only 7.5% of all construction managers were female as of 2019. Women frequently point out that leadership does not look like them. Having diverse senior leadership is great not only for driving company innovation, but it's also key for making your female employees feel represented at their company, and it will inspire their own career ambitions, because they can see themselves at the top.
Construction has long had the perception that it is a man's field, the boy's club. Let's work on changing that perception. And not just during WIC week, but all year long! There are many opportunities for women in construction, and there is a strong movement to encourage women to go for those opportunities.
Check out the NAWIC website for more information about the 24th annual WIC Week and learn more about how you can show support for our amazing women in construction! https://wicweek2022.my.canva.site/