We don’t need a statistic to know that middle-aged white males primarily populate the construction industry.
Diversity is – or should be – a fundamental principle, regardless of the benefits. However, benefits are there and they’re pretty good…
Not only does diversity increase your pool of talent but studies from McKinsey & Company have shown that diversity within the workplace improves performance and increases financial returns. McKinsey’s report, Diversity Matters, reveals that there was an “increase of 3.5 percent in EBIT for every 10 percent increase in gender diversity”.
McKinsey hypothesised that these findings were likely due to stronger customer orientation, employee satisfaction and improved decision making: “Diversity fosters innovation and creativity through a greater variety of problem-solving approaches, perspectives, and ideas”.
Recruitment, however, is just the first step.
Analysis from Construction News exposed that the construction industry has the worst gender pay gap in the UK, with women earning “30.3 per cent lower than the average for men”. In their report LGTB+ survey: Construction’s Slow Progress Laid Bare Construction News additionally revealed that “Just over half (54 per cent) of LGBT+ respondents did not feel comfortable being open about their sexuality or gender on site”.
Are these examples of why diversity is so hard to maintain within the construction industry?
Acknowledgements are positive, but only a step in the right direction. The industry should - as rightly worded by Turner & Townsend in The Importance of Gender Diversity in Construction - be “aware of the implications of unconscious bias” and work towards creating an environment that is more accepting of diversity.
Working with the construction industry, I have been presented with a world of opportunities that I was previously oblivious to. The same can be said for many women out there, but in order to achieve greater diversity and attract the next generation of women, the industry must first create a culture that allows diversity to thrive. It’s been great to see Aphex embrace these values; our CEO Carlos Adams has expressed that “when founding Aphex we wanted to ensure we created a company that was representative of lots of different experiences and backgrounds”.
In partnering with the Women Returners Program, the Thames Tideway Scheme succeeded in walking the talk and helping gender diversity to thrive. What’s your company doing to allow diversity to thrive?
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