Construction industry aiming for a more inclusive future
Creating work environments that are welcoming for people with various lived experiences and backgrounds is a growing priority in the construction industry.
And it stems beyond built space to the industry itself.
Kate Van Zeyl, Vice President and Co-General Manager at Turner Construction Company in Chicago, says her firm has made a commitment to creating and sustaining a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment.
“We are making sure that our staff feels welcome, no matter what their background or culture is, and that they can see themselves in the room at all levels throughout the company,” she says, adding that Turner has a goal to build a pipeline of future leaders that reflect the communities in which it works by 2030.
According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12% of the national workforce identifies as Black, but in construction it’s only 6% — a figure that has been largely unchanged for the last 25 years. 30% of the construction workforce identifies as Hispanic and Latino, and women make up just 10% of the industry’s workforce, with the majority spending their day in the office rather than out in the field. The vast majority (88.6%) of construction professionals are White.
Turner is working hard to change that.
The organization is actively focused on aligning with clients and partners who have similar Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) values, and those who take action when it comes to DEI.
“It makes it a lot easier when the people that you work with, and work for, appreciate different cultures and seek the same values as you do,” Van Zeyl says.
The result has been an increase in collaboration both internally and with like-minded organizations, Van Zeyl adds.
“Every job that we do is a collaborative effort across the ownership, the design team, the engineering team, the construction team,” she says. “It can’t be a siloed process because it’s inefficient. Collaboration is absolutely necessary.”