As we move the needle forward for Diversity and Inclusion – equity has become another main area that companies are recognizing is their responsibility to create fairness in the workforce. Equity is the simple concept of providing employees the tools and resources they need to access the same opportunities as everyone else.
The construction industry itself is at a pivotal moment in which diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) can completely transform the industry. With relatively low barriers to entry – whether you attend a trade school or learn through experience in the field, there are low to little costs involved with breaking into the workforce. It is an industry in which everyone for the most part can start off on equal footing or learn through experience without a formal education. Here are some ways in which companies can implement more equitable practices in their existing programs to retain, upskill and attract future talent.
Create Equity Through Flexibility And Balance.
As an individual begins to grow their career within construction, experience, background, and training will play a huge role in developing and honing their skill sets. One of the best ways a construction company can do this is to establish a mentorship or apprenticeship program that provides individuals access to and learn from experts in their trade. By doing this – companies can create opportunities and career pathways for individuals that want to take that next step. The key to creating any type of mentorship or apprenticeship program and making it truly “equitable” is not only making it available as a resource for all but to consider access in terms of scheduling, travel, time, commitment, and any tools or technology needed to succeed. Design a flexible program to be more inclusive of everyone’s responsibilities and limitations outside of work. Having these types of programs in place is great for upskilling your team, but in order for some individuals to take advantage of it, they will require additional support to make these opportunities more accessible – for example, they may have
- Childcare responsibilities that occur at a specific time of day
- Limited access to the internet or a specific platform out of the office
- A less forgiving schedule outside of work
- Another job to report to
- A transportation or travel issue
By considering these other external factors beyond the workplace, HR teams and companies can provide employees with the resources and support that an employee needs to pursue a mentorship or apprenticeship program.
Drive Equity By Going Beyond Awareness
Some construction companies offer programs around tuition assistance and reimburse employees for licensing, certification, or higher education courses. For example, a construction company offsetting the costs for an engineer or electrician to become a certified, licensed professional. Many of these tuition assistance programs already exist, and many employees for the most part are aware of this type of benefit. However, awareness is only the first step. To make these programs more equitable, HR teams and construction companies need to focus more on the individual’s life experience when considering these programs. In some cases, employees looking to pursue a certification or licensing will not have much experience or knowledge of the fundamental basics of financing and loans. Create content or hold seminars that explain the process in further detail and answer any questions individuals may have including:
- How Does The Program Work?
- What Outcomes They Can Expect – Salary Increases?
- How Can They Plan For Financing?
- What To Expect In Terms of Loans and Payments?
- What Is The Commitment On A Weekly Or Monthly Basis?
- What Are The Commitments From Your Company?
- What Is The Long-Term Benefit For This Type Of Investment?
Providing this context and giving your employees the framework for how and why they invest in themselves and move their careers ahead is what makes these programs more equitable. In some cases, education about the process alone and setting these expectations is the key to removing these barriers for an employee to take advantage of it. Everyone’s life experiences are different, and accommodating for any shortcomings or providing more clarity around unfamiliar situations closes these gaps to create equity and drive career pathways forward.
Attract Diversity Talent Through These Incentives.
All of these mentorship, apprenticeship, training, and tuition assistance programs are an excellent way to invest in your talent and drive employee retention. They can also be used within your recruitment marketing to attract diverse talent and position your organization as one that takes equity and inclusion seriously as a business priority and value.
Showcase the ways in which you support your employees early in the hiring process by highlighting these programs and benefits across your job descriptions and social media. During the interview and hiring process speak about the ways in which these programs are designed to support employees and set up to elevate everyone to equal standing. Focusing on how the company assists employees with navigating these barriers, provides a glimpse into the employee experience and helps a potential employee envision themself working for the company.
About The Author.
Jeff Raymond (firstname.lastname@example.org), President and Founder of Raymond Search Group (RaymondSearchGroup.com), is an industry-leading recruiter specializing in Construction and Real Estate, Engineering, Architecture, HVACR/R, Building Automation Systems, MEPF, and Manufacturing. Jeff is known for delivering the top 5% of industry talent to his clients with unrivaled efficiency and network. Clients and candidates alike rely on Jeff as a trusted advisor through his recruiting expertise and industry insight.
Jeff earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, Management, and Operations from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is experienced in the construction industry and is Procore certified in multiple areas. He is an active member of the Urban Land Institute, ASHRAE, the Institute of Refrigeration (IOR), and The OSHA Education Center Association.