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Diversity is very important in all industries, but some seem to have made bigger strides forward than others. The construction industry is one that is now looking at how to promote greater diversity, encouraging people from all walks of life to come and enjoy the fulfilling career that the sector can offer.

The construction industry has been suffering from a labor shortage for some time now, largely because it only tends to pluck employees from the same pool of talent. As the shortages get worse and demand increases, it has become obvious that employers now need to consider how to expand the number of people they are choosing from, and this means being more diverse. There are a number of ways that construction firms can promote better diversity.

The construction industry

To be truly successful, a business’ workforce should represent the customers it serves; but in the construction industry, this is not always the case. Statistics show only 15% of the construction workforce are women, with just 2% actually on the jobsite. In addition, only 6% are Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers and 6% are disabled.

This shows that there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to attracting a more varied workforce, as businesses that do often outperform their competitors. The construction industry is suffering from a chronic skills shortage and now is the time to make the most of untapped potential by being inclusive and welcoming to all.

Challenge behavior

Everyone has the right to feel comfortable and safe in the workplace, and this can only be done by challenging any behavior that threatens inclusively. It is up to colleagues and leaders in firms to highlight any behavior that is not appropriate to stamp it out. Make sure people feel safe by reporting this kind of behavior, and make sure those reports are taken seriously.

Offer care to those affected by non-inclusive behavior, as well as education or discipline to those who carry it out. When people see this being done and know perpetrators are being held accountable, they are more likely to be attracted to an industry where they can feel safe and valued—enjoy the work environment that they are moving into.

Use data

The figures seen on a balance sheet can quickly highlight a gender or ethnicity pay gap, promotion and training records, as well as recruitment drives. Studying figures can show where a business is lacking, and addressing it will quickly make a firm more inclusive and encourage greater diversity.

Uniform

Uniforms, if handled correctly, can help with diversity levels. When choosing a uniform, don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach, as this can put many people off; instead, opt for a diverse uniform that caters to a range of individual needs. These should take into account different body types, as well as incorporating religious dress such as a turban or hijab.

A uniform can help to create a sense of togetherness in a workforce, no matter how different employees might be. Adding the company logo to a uniform can help, even if it is to a high-visibility vest. Printed PPE can easily identify an employee as being part of a particular firm, even on a busy construction site that might have a number of trades present at any one time.

Contractors can put together printed or embroidered PPE very easily to help create the feeling of being a team and working as one.

Look at the recruitment process

Improving diversity starts at the very beginning, so take a close look at the recruitment processes. Examine the process honestly and see if there are any biases contained in them, either in the process itself or the people involved in overseeing it.

In addition, take a look at where contractors are looking for new workers and whether this promotes diversity. Look at working with a wider range of agencies or, if recruiting currently unskilled workers, change where the company looks and how it talks about what it can offer.

Contractors can also look at creating programs that will help reach candidates that they might not ordinarily have seen. By partnering with apprenticeship organizations, schools and training academies, contractors can develop a pipeline to filter more diverse workers into the business

Be practical

To include greater diversity, contractors need to also look at the practical options that they offer. For example, are there separate areas where women can change in private? Does the company need to provide separate washing facilities or time for prayer? All of these need to be thought about if contractors want to attract a wider and more inclusive workforce.

Ask questions

If contractors want the answer to a problem, they first need to ask questions. To promote greater diversity, they need to ask questions about why that is not happening already. Talk to members of the workforce from all sides of the coin to try and establish what the potential barriers might be. This will give contractors a better idea of what it is they need to work on.

These days, diversity is the key to success in any business. By bringing a wide range of backgrounds, skills and perspectives together, contractors can create a team that can think bigger, be more effective and represent those they are working for.

Diversity requires the right workplace cultures to be in place, which can be achieved with a little thought and sensitivity.

Contractors should look at how they can be welcoming and inclusive to everyone. Soon, they will see recruitment numbers growing and many new and different faces appearing in their business.

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