Diversity and its bedfellow, Equality, are high profile at the moment and making news headlines both in the UK and in the international arena.
About time too.
What does this mean for the construction industry, often seen as one of the least diverse sectors?
The construction industry has been attempting to change its image for some time and the momentum on equality and diversity will hopefully help this along. I personally have seen some great initiatives gather pace now and get much more coverage than before. While regular readers of my blog will know, I am not a massive supporter of positive discrimination, but am passionate about encouraging a diverse range of young people to consider engineering as a career.
However organisations like The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) are doing great work and have a number of projects under way: going out to schools and youth events promoting the construction industry; being involved in awards to promote women; compiling a photography project ‘Image of Women in Construction’. All of these work to help dispel the myths of women in the industry, what they look like and what they do. Being involved in these projects is both a delight and a privilege and I have met some inspiring people on the way. While focusing on encouraging young women, it all helps others see the industry in a different light. This must be a good thing.
Why does this matter?
Apart from the obvious ethical issues, it also matters to industry, because having a diverse workforce is good for business. Diversity involves bringing people together from different backgrounds, whether that be gender, race, culture, orientation. Different backgrounds generally means different viewpoints, different ways of thinking, different approaches. Quite simply, having a diverse team gives that team a depth and breadth of experience and thinking that might just give your business the edge. Having the same people, all thinking the same way, with the same solutions is not only dull but is in danger of leaving your business in the slow lane. Hardly inspiring to the next generation of construction professionals.
We have a very diverse workforce at Energylab and every one of us enjoys this experience. Whether it be us having downtime enjoying somebody’s ‘national dish’ or solving a problem from a different point of view, it all works. We all feel a valued member of the team and that makes us stronger.
Diversity is one way to keep our industry ahead and encourage others to join us.