Professional opportunities enrich lives and open doors to careers people didn’t even know were possible. Women are often left out of specific industries due to deep–rooted societal structures and miss those same possibilities. The construction industry is one of those professions because the total workforce is only 11% female in the U.S.
These are 10 ways we can support women better in construction to provide equal professional opportunities.
There are numerous ways to reach women where they are and break through any sexist barriers that prevent them from considering or achieving a career in construction. Companies could send representatives to high school or college career days and talk specifically with young women about how their interests fit the construction workforce.
Public job fairs and virtual job board sites are other chances to go in-depth about a company’s commitment to gender diversity. Businesses with additional funding could also consider airing commercials with interviews from current women working on sites and in their offices.
Research shows that 76% of millennials and Gen Zers won’t consider a company for employment unless they prioritize diversity. Gender is a crucial component of that, so construction companies should include relevant information on their websites and social media platforms.
Marketing teams can post about a company’s progress in hiring more women over the last year or industry-wide trends that promise future growth no matter where a woman works. Posts like these will inform potential female applicants that women make up 34.6% of management positions and 19.6% of operational roles.
Considering that the expanding female construction workforce is helping to push the industry to over $16 billion in profits by 2025, every woman who accepts a construction job will find as much success as the growing industry.
The construction industry contains numerous jobs, especially for women who have financial skills. Roles in sectors such as fleet management will welcome any applicant who’s great with numbers. Fleet management experts minimize a company’s expenses by strategizing things like operations behaviors and technologically streamlining maintenance.
Including women in these roles will propel them to leadership positions with the unique skill set they bring to the table.
Construction sites present numerous potential dangers like falling, equipment malfunctions, and live electrical wires. Men and women are equally at risk for related injuries, but women also have to consider how their male co-workers will treat them based on their gender.
Businesses can support women better in construction by increasing site safety with multiple supervisors, cameras, and team assignments. Everyone will be much safer and more confident about their job if they don’t have to work alone in a potentially dangerous environment.
Human resources (HR) representatives respond to all gender discrimination or harassment reports. Those same employees should receive annual training about recognizing these behaviors and enforcing zero-tolerance policies. Learning about these policies will make construction jobs more appealing to women because they will trust those in leadership positions to prioritize their safety.
Diversity training can also occur once or twice a year for all employees. They may not recognize implicit bias in their words or actions otherwise. Training sessions are opportunities to start helpful conversations and make the workplace more welcoming for women.
Many companies don’t provide the benefits women need to achieve their life goals. They need standard health, dental, and vision insurance, but they may also need paid maternity leave. Any woman who wants to start or expand their family will need that time provided separately from their paid time off (PTO), so construction companies can offer a package to appeal to more female applicants.
Only 12% of female private-sector employees have maternity leave and 40% of all women don’t qualify for the federal maternity leave program. Construction companies will become preferred employers by offering a few months of paid leave for mothers near the end of their pregnancy and after giving birth.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential for working safely within the construction industry. It includes everything from hard hats to masks, but the equipment doesn’t automatically keep women in mind.
Standard PPE uses a uniform body size that mostly fits men. Female construction workers may walk away from their job if this is a daily issue. Industry experts found that 57% of women in construction were prevented from doing their job safely and to the best of their ability because of ill-fitting PPE. Businesses that provide properly sized equipment will attract and retain more women in the workforce.
If a small construction business has more women employees than men, the progress won’t mean much if those women still feel isolated. They need to know there are other women with the same professional passions or interests, so companies that support women by helping them network will make the industry a long-term home for them.
Many organizations make networking easier than cold-messaging online or befriending people through social media sites. Women can check for events hosted by The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) or other professional organizations for women.
Young women starting their careers will find this effort especially appealing because they can chart their futures based on the representation and encouragement they’ll find at networking events.
Women are well aware of the existing gender pay gap affecting nearly every industry. If they see a company offering equal pay with the statistics to back it up, they’ll be more inclined to apply for available jobs. The construction industry has a significant opportunity with this issue. Women in construction roles earn 99.1% of their male counterparts’ pay, even in entry-level positions.
Many people won’t know that statistic because they don’t spend their free time researching industries in-depth. Construction companies should broadcast this information in job postings, networking events, and career fairs so women know there’s financial promise in that industry.
Hiring women for leadership positions diversifies the workforce, but existing leaders should receive regular training on implicit bias and misogyny. It will rectify any behaviors or habits that make women feel uncomfortable or unwelcome so construction companies remain welcoming long after women walk through the front door.
There are many ways we can support women better in construction, so every industry leader should consider these steps. They make the field more competitive, welcoming, and supportive for women who want to make a future within the industry.