The following is a an article by Symore Strong posted March 6, 2023 at builderonline.com. Pictured: Lantz Preconstruction Coordinator Jennifer Carr and Estimator Drew Meyerhoeffer work together on a construction proposal.
8 Tips for Recruiting More Women Into Construction
A selection of women leaders offer their best recruitment tips to celebrate NAWIC’s Women in Construction Week.
Angela Seaborn, senior director of human resource operations at 84 Lumber, summarizes the current state of women employed in the construction industry best: “While this industry is more open than ever to the inclusion of women, only a small fraction includes women.”
To find ways to attract and retain more female workers and in honor of Women in Construction Week, BUILDER reached out to a handful of key women, like Seaborn, to ask for their best practices and top recruitment tips. See eight pieces of their advice below.
Listening: “My best tip is simple. Take time to listen to people. Empower associates. It is important to communicate clear goals and provide the tools necessary for associates to run their business. We encourage our leaders, from store managers to divisional vice presidents, to engage new 84 Lumber associates. Something as simple as creating a space for associates to be able to talk about their futures and make sure they have a sense of belonging is very important for retaining talent.”—Seaborn
Visualizing: “Women naturally possess much of the expertise needed in the construction industry. Cognitive thinking and problem solving are two major skills that are necessary in this industry, in which women excel. Women can visualize projects differently, therefore unveiling new ways of problem solving. With a plethora of careers to choose from, women have the opportunity to choose a construction sector that would best fit their skill set. The best way to recruit more women is by helping them visualize a future in the industry by providing tangible resources and training.”—Diana Skellenger, CEO and founder of Skelly Build
Demonstrating: “The best way to recruit women into construction is for companies to demonstrate they believe women belong in construction. Each of the following guidelines will signal ‘women wanted’ to join your team:
- Promote women into executive roles to show it’s possible to impact the business, own the budget, and create processes and policies shaped by women, for women.
- Develop and promote mentorship programs to demonstrate you’ll invest in their career growth and provide guidance along the way.
- Prove their safety is your priority by procuring PPE specifically designed for women.”—Sasha Reed, director of industry advancement for Procore
Prioritizing: “Frontdoor believes and anticipates that women will continue to transform and improve the construction and professional contractor industries. To assemble truly inclusive teams and attract top female talent, organizations should strive to prioritize inclusive communications across their website, social media channels, marketing assets, and job descriptions. To attract female talent, consider highlighting your organization’s inclusivity efforts via a diversity report, a sustainability report, and other external-facing assets. When underrepresented populations see people who look like them at an organization, they will be encouraged to apply for a position. For job description purposes, avoid gender-specific terms like ‘aggressive’ or ‘commanding,’ as women tend to avoid applying for roles that seemingly sound as though they are tailored for a male employee.”—Kathy Collins, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of Frontdoor
Showcasing: “It’s important that women are represented in company initiatives and that recruiting resources use inclusive language to attract female applicants to all roles. Companies can proactively address the lack of women in the workforce by showcasing a commitment to gender equality and benefits specifically for women, such as female employee resource groups, fertility and family planning benefits, and well-outlined career growth opportunities for women to succeed at the organization. Beyond creating a more inclusive culture, employers should set and hold themselves accountable to target goals for diversity hiring focused on gender and prioritize the development of anti-discrimination and equal opportunities policies if they are not already in place.”—Brandi Ford, senior vice president of human resources at ISN
Training: “In order to not just attract but retain women in the construction industry, organizations should work to increase accessibility to training programs that are available to all people in communities nationwide. At The Home Depot Foundation, we are focused on removing the barriers that prevent women from fully taking advantage of opportunities in the trades, including providing scholarships, offering free trainings, introducing young women to the trades at an early age, helping women who are separating from the military find their next meaningful career, and partnering with like-minded organizations that also empower women to lean into fields where an increased presence is needed. Through tactics like these, we can help build a stronger, more diverse and more inclusive workforce.”—Heather Prill, senior manager of national partnerships at The Home Depot Foundation
Elevating: “As construction companies continue to embrace the advantages that focus areas such as technology and process improvement will bring to the industry, opportunities to attract, recruit, and retain more women will widen. To focus on recruiting women, HPM ensures that job descriptions are unbiased and use inclusive language and that there is diverse representation on interview panels. Offering an attractive work/life balance, providing comprehensive maternity and paternity leave as well as adoption assistance, and elevating women into leadership positions creates an attractive and rewarding career path for women in construction.”—Megan Cordingly, project controls specialist at HPM
Protecting: “Companies need to build a framework within their organization that includes and supports women—it’s that simple. Internally, they should be asking these questions:
- Have we built an environment where women can function? An obvious starting point: Make sure you have washrooms that women can actually use—comfortably. One or two port-a-potties on a worksite shared with 50 other men is neither “comfortable” nor humane. Having work wear and PPE on hand that fits women is also a must.
- Have we built an environment where women feel safe? Women need to know coming in that they will be protected at every level. Zero-tolerance policies, universal sensitivity training, and punitive measures for harassment must all be clearly laid out from the get-go for everyone.
- Have we built a company where women feel seen/ represented? If your website or social media only shows pictures of men, that tells me women aren’t valued in your organization. Likewise, if your boardroom doesn’t have any women sitting at the table, if all of your managers are male, if you don’t visibly promote women and their accomplishments— the message you are sending isn’t inclusive.
Finally, if you’re a company that is doing all the right things for women, great! Now you need to compile all of the proof and crack the whip on your marketing team. Transparency and clarity surrounding successful initiatives has to be at the forefront of your communications.”—Mandy Rennehan, HGTV host and author