Construction workforce diversity improves productivity and profits (2023)

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Author Cathy Chatfield-Taylor

Construction workforce diversity improves productivity and profits (1)

(Video) A diverse workforce boosts productivity and leads to a more profitable workforce

  • Historically, the construction industry has lacked diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives.
  • Creating a more inclusive workforce fosters employee creativity, productivity, satisfaction and achievement.
  • Organizations that implement equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) action plans, which can include focus groups, coaching, training and mentoring, can help foster culture change from within.
  • Employees who can be themselves at work tend to thrive; Happier employees tend to be more effective, which improves the bottom line.

The construction industry gets abad reputationfor not being diverse enough. It's true that the sector is lagging behind other industries, but construction companies are beginning to foster a more diverse and inclusive workforce and are reaping the benefits.

ThatBusiness casefor Diversity shows that it drives employee engagement, job satisfaction and performance. In the 2018 report “Delivering through diversity' McKinsey finds that companies with diverse leadership teams are up to 33% more likely to outperform their peers.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) initiatives can also generate intangible assets such as innovative ideas and creative problem solving. Different perspectives reverse the tendencies of companies to carry on as before and reduce the risk of groupthink.

"As diversity increases in our industry, we will see increases in productivity because we will see new ideas emerge," said Jennifer Suerth, vice president of technical services atpepper construction company, wo30%of employees are women.

Construction workforce diversity improves productivity and profits (2)

Productivity gains begin as companies increase recruitment and retention and improve D&I in the workplace. The result is a more efficient and effective workforce, where all employees are empowered to reach their full potential.

The importance of diversity and inclusion in construction is paramount

When Cliff Cole began his construction career over 17 years ago, he didn't really think about racing until he got his first job in Asheville, NC, where his boss had warned him not to visit a certain part of the state because it was safe for him. Not exactly what a lively, eager young college grad wants to hear.

As VDC Director at PENTA Building Group, Cole is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion in the construction industry. He believes that with diversity comes diverse perspectives, which are much needed to help the industry thrive and innovate.

(Video) How diversity makes teams more innovative | Rocío Lorenzo | TED

"We have the new generations in the industry," says Cole. “In order to be successful and continue the necessary growth, we must be able to improve. We have to be able to change. And that change is happening through diversity, equity and inclusion. It's really a business strategy. It will make every company better, which will ultimately make the industry better."

Cole recommends construction companies educate themselves about what unconscious bias looks like, what diversity and inclusion looks like, and why equity needs to be factored into this equation to make real change in the industry.

Construction workforce diversity improves productivity and profits (3)

“You have to be able to give employees a voice so they feel included, that they belong in the conversations,” he says. “We need to be able to see how we are attracting, hiring and retaining the talent that we currently have. People are leaving this industry. It's a tough industry, but we need to get better at making it a diverse and inclusive culture across the organization."[Watch the video to learn more about Cole and his construction industry tips.]

(Video) The Surprising Solution to Workplace Diversity | Arwa Mahdawi | TEDxHamburg

A lack of D&I jeopardizes productivity

Despite being one of the largest sectors of the global economy, the construction industry has lagged behind productivity growth, which has slowed to $10 trillion1%last year. The result: poor performance, project management and execution, and cost overruns and overruns.

The problem can only get worse in the United States, where construction workscontribution to the economyit has reached its highest level in seven years, but companies are complaining about a shortage of skilled workers.

Recruiting talent from underrepresented groups is a business imperative. Global consulting firm Willis Towers Watson predicts that the limited diversity of the workforce is aThe 20 biggest risksfor contractors by 2027. “Diversity breeds diversity,” says Bill Noonan, head of North American Construction Customer Engagement. "Unfortunately, the opposite is also the case."

The diversity of the workforce in construction is woefully low

Recent surveys show that the industry still has a long way to go towards a diverse workplace. EDI experts in many locations around the world identify various protected and underrepresented groups. In the UK, Equality Act includes nine protected characteristics that employers must take into account: age; Disability; ethnicity (often referred to as an emphasis on inclusion of Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic [BAME] individuals and groups); Gender; gender or transgender identity; sexual orientation; religion and belief; Marriage and registered partnerships; and support for maternity and paternity regulations (or family-friendly policies).

Construction workforce diversity improves productivity and profits (4)

In any area, metrics and benchmarks can be problematic. 2016 only3,2%of UK construction workers identified as BAME, and fewer than5%of the construction work is declared invalid. This provides organizations with a marker to see if they are reflecting these talent communities.

In the US, women only wear makeup9%the construction worker. 2017 held only women7%of construction management jobs in the United States, although it isAlmost twice as muchin Great Britain. Suerth says she didn't see herself as a minority until she transitioned from a female-led engineering firm to the male-dominated construction industry, where she turned an obstacle into an opportunity. "Work likewoman under constructionand with technology, it's doubly weird,” she says.

Barriers to the LGBT community are also common. In the UK, only LGBT professionals understand2%the construction worker. 2016,51%said their sexual orientation prevents them from advancing in their careers and 71% had repeatedly heard LGBT-oriented slurs at work. Not surprisingly, only 7% of LGBT workers would recommend the industry to recruits. (Data on LGBT workers is not collected by relevant U.S. agencies.)

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Changing that demographic requires a change in attitude. "The fact that people can be authentic at work enables them to be successful," said David Isaac, partner and head of manufacturing and advanced technology at the international law firm.Masonic Pinsent. “This is an opportunity to attract the best talent to the company and it impacts the bottom line. That's a compelling argument, whether it's for LGBT, gender, or black, Asian, and minority inclusion."

Bring about cultural change with EDI action plans

Construction companies have engaged in initiatives to promote D&I, often wrapped up in EDI action plans. These programs include focus groups, mentoring, training and mentoring, as well as networking and professional development.

EDI the Mott MacDonald GroupManager Richard Chapman-Harris says training unconscious bias has opened up a dialogue about more inclusive language and behavior.Backward tutoringMatching senior leaders with young disabled, BAME and/or LGBT peers has also provided leaders with insight into minority experiences and supported the career advancement of trainees from under-represented groups.

“Our EDI action plan has helped the company focus on key initiatives that support:including culture, which we know requires concerted and collaborative action,” says Chapman-Harris. "Unfortunately, inclusion doesn't just happen."

EDI efforts have resulted in a cultural shift at Mott MacDonald, with 81% of UK employees feeling their colleagues take EDI seriously and 72% saying EDI policies are being implemented effectively. EDI policies have also been adopted by customers, contractors and suppliers. “We see EDI aspects integrated into our customers' offerings,” says Chapman-Harris. "In return, we also raise our expectations of our own supply chain."

Provide a support network for individuals

For individual employees, change comes slowly. Isaac, former President ofstone wall(Britain's leading LGBT charity) says: “Now there aren't many LGBT people in leadership positions. It is also important that other people in leadership positions act as allies. Stonewall found that core allies were instrumental in driving change."

Employee networks support inclusion in all aspects of the industry and provide a safe haven for dialogue between members of minorities, including LGBT employees, and their straight allies. Jamie Olsen Ferreira, Associate in Pinsent Masons Construction and Engineering and Co-Chair of the LGBT Construction and Infrastructure Networkoutside the premisessays these networks have supported and encouraged large construction companies to build their own internal networks.

(Video) Tradesmen International | How to Increase Construction Workforce Productivity

Construction workforce diversity improves productivity and profits (5)

Variety Actual Yield

Ultimately, companies whose workforce most closely resembles the communities in which they work can gain competitive advantage. InTransportation to London(TfL), the authority behind one of the world's largest equity investment schemes, Isaac has taken note of Mayor Sadiq Khan's commitment to diversity. "Their commitment trickles through," says Isaac. "It's a very diverse workforce that extends to projects on the ground and helps create a conducive work environment where people are very effective."

D&I fills organizations with fresh ideas, fresh perspectives and a willingness to consider alternatives. With a more diverse workforce that is better at problem solving and decision making, construction companies can outperform their competitors financially and economically.equally– with inclusion and respect.

Autodesk Editor-in-ChiefMiss Robackcontributed to this article, which has been updated. It was originally released in June 2018.


How does workforce diversity increase productivity? ›

Diversity leads people to consider multiple perspectives and develop better, more complex approaches. For senior management, this means greater creativity, innovation, and flexibility in formulating strategy.

Does a diverse workforce increase profits? ›

Companies with an inclusive culture who hire staff members with differing backgrounds see a significant increase in profit. Diverse businesses see 2.3 times higher profits per employee.

How does a more diverse workforce increase profit business? ›

Diversity can also have a positive impact on business performance in a multitude of ways, from greater innovation and skill sharing to increased productivity and higher revenues. Forbes reveals that diverse teams deliver 60% better results and make better decisions in 87% of cases.

How workplace diversity positively affects its productivity and workforce retention? ›

Research has found that diversifying your team can boost productivity by 35%.. A diverse workforce is more likely to understand your customers' needs and come up with ideas to fulfill them. Diversity in the workplace will also increase employee morale and instill a desire to be more effective and work more efficiently.

Why is diversity good for productivity? ›

Increased productivity: A diverse workplace allows for more ideas and processes. This diversity of talent means a broader range of skills among employees, as well as a diversity of experiences and perspectives which increases the potential for increased productivity.

How does workforce diversity impact employee performance? ›

Furthermore, they argue that effective workforce diversity management will lead to an increase in positive merit-based practices, resulting in the enhancement of organizational performance.

What are the three key benefits of a diverse workforce? ›

Five benefits of diversity in the workplace
  • Better opportunities for creativity and problem-solving. ...
  • Smarter decision-making. ...
  • An increase in profits and productivity. ...
  • Reduced rates of employee turnover. ...
  • Improved reputation for your business.

Does diversity and inclusion increase productivity? ›

High levels of equality, diversity and inclusion are associated with greater innovation, productivity and performance, talent recruitment and retention, and workforce well-being.

Does Labor diversity affect firm productivity? ›

Implementing a structural estimation of the firms' production function (Ackerberg et al. 2006), we find that labor diversity in education significantly enhances a firm's value added. Conversely, diversity in ethnicity and demographics induces negative effects on firm productivity.

What are 10 benefits to diversity in the workplace? ›

Here are 10 benefits of diversity in the workplace:
  • Boost Innovation and Creativity. ...
  • Enhance Company's reputation. ...
  • A Better Understanding of Costumer's Needs. ...
  • Less Employee Churn. ...
  • More Revenue. ...
  • Wider Talent Pool. ...
  • Better Decisions and Adaptability. ...
  • Reduced Negative Emotions and Prejudices.
Aug 16, 2022

What is workforce diversity and why is it important to organizational performance? ›

Workplace diversity increases employee satisfaction and fosters positive attitudes and behaviors and creates better decision making through combining diverse groups of thinkers. These organizational aspects that diversity bolsters ultimately make up the foundation for organizations that perform better financially.

Are diverse workforces more successful? ›

The business case for gender and ethnic diversity is strong, and getting stronger. Research shows a consistent correlation between diverse leadership and stronger financial performance for companies.

How does diversity impact business performance? ›

Increases productivity and performance

According to research by Fundera, racially and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to perform better, while diverse teams are 70% more likely to capture and penetrate new markets.

How are diversity and productivity related? ›

A positive relationship between diversity and productivity could arise through causal mechanisms such as facilitation or complementary resource use (6, 7). However, the same relationship between productivity and diversity could also be generated by chance, through a sampling or selection effect.

How human diversity affects performance and productivity? ›

Diversity Leads to Better Team Performance by:

It can improve team performance by ensuring that each team has a diverse set of talents. When an organization values inclusivity, it can also help strengthen the relationship with employees and thus lead to improved individual performance as well.

How does workforce planning improve productivity? ›

Workforce planning processes can: Reduce labour costs in favour of workforce deployment and flexibility. Identify and respond to changing customer needs. Identify relevant strategies for focussed people development.

What are the 4 factors that increased productivity? ›

“Positive attitude and involvement of management,” “Proactive employees,” “Good working conditions,” “Tools and equipment to raise productivity,” and “Availability of water, power and other input supplies” have been ranked as top five factors.

What are the 5 main factors that affect productivity? ›

5 factors with an impact on labor productivity
  • Energy and personal attitudes. The combination of energy and a person's attitude will play a significant role in determining their productivity in any context, whether work-related or not. ...
  • Equipment and resources. ...
  • Objectives. ...
  • Leadership. ...
  • Environment.
Nov 14, 2018

Why is workforce productivity important? ›

Importance of Productivity in the Workplace

Productivity boosts morale and creates a company culture of excellence, resulting in an improved workplace environment. When a company is highly productive and successful, incentives like pay hikes, bonuses, medical insurance, etc., are made available to the employees.

Does diversity really improve performance? ›

Healthcare studies showed patients generally fare better when care was provided by more diverse teams. Professional skills-focused studies generally find improvements to innovation, team communications and improved risk assessment. Financial performance also improved with increased diversity.

How can employee empowerment improve productivity? ›

It makes employees feel valued and respected as they are delegated critical tasks. It also encourages employees to choose their areas of interest across functions based on their skills. This way, they put extra effort and commitment into the projects at hand.


1. Hitler's Socialism | Destroying the Denialist Counter Arguments
2. Best Practices - Building and Retaining a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce | Diversity Forum 2019
3. The Benefits and Challenges of a Diverse Team
(Bython Media)
4. This is what makes employees happy at work | The Way We Work, a TED series
5. Webinar: We must talk about menstrual leave. Period.
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6. 3 ways to create a work culture that brings out the best in employees | Chris White | TEDxAtlanta
(TEDx Talks)


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