“Make yourself comfortable being uncomfortable”

Panelist Simeon Terry put it succinctly.

“You need to be comfortable when you feel uncomfortable,” said Terry, vice president of diversity affairs for Dallas-based contractor Austin Commercial, during a panel discussion titled The why behind diversity and inclusion at the annual conference of the Baufinanzmanagementverband 2021

The aim of the panel was to provide construction professionals who are in the process of making their workplaces more diverse, to provide advice and best practices, while at the same time supporting the diverse employees with whom they already work.

The panel followed a Series of racist incidents on construction sites across the country after the 2020 murder of George Floyd, including Sling found on an Amazon job site In April. Between 2015 and 2020, the Equal Opportunities Commission received at least 50 complaints about slings on construction sites Washington Post.

Noisy Labor Statistics Office According to 2020 data, 10.9% of construction industry members are women. Regarding race, 6% are black and 2% are Asian. Thirty percent are Latinos, a demographic category of ethnicity, not race.

Manageable change

Two of the panel’s key points overlapped: make small, manageable changes that you can commit to instead of big, sweeping changes, and don’t be silent on issues of injustice in the workplace.

The panel led by example and established its own “engagement rules”, including “embracing positive intentions” and “embracing the power of humble listening” for its discussion.

Terry talked about what it means to be conscious about recruiting and working with diverse groups of people in the construction industry.

For example, Terry, who is Black, said he meant a lot to receive calls from other senior executives and even some board members at his company following Floyd’s murder and resulting social protests last summer. As a 21-year veteran of his company, he said it “took things to a whole different level” when he received this support.

“That meant something. That meant a lot. For someone who just notices it and cares and says, ‘Hey, you know what, I don’t experience this directly in my life, but I have people who work for me and they do. ‘ Said Terry.

College member Willy Pegues, vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at McCownGordon Construction in Kansas City, Missouri, noted that workers often interpret workplace silence from management as tacit approval of behavior.

“If you don’t say anything, it is as if you are compliant because you”We don’t get up and do the right thing, “said Pegues.

Panelist Brittany Diederich, director of finance and administration at Industrial Builders Inc., based in West Fargo, North Dakota, saw firsthand the silence from above. Diederich, who identifies as a gay woman, wrote a Column in building profits of the CFMA Publication about her experiences in the construction industry and coming out in front of her colleagues and family members.

She spoke during the panel about how it felt for her when people see social issues like LGBTQIA + from a political perspective.

“It is not political to be human,” said Diederich.

But what can companies do with these small, incremental changes? The panellists emphasized that what you can change depending on the culture.

“Take care of your managers. Pay attention to how they act and what they say. Most of your corporate culture is determined by your managers and your executives. Hold them responsible for the behaviors you want to build because they build yours Culture every time in a single day, like it or not, “said Rachel Hudson, HR program manager at BKD, a national accounting firm.

Hudson also encouraged building a sense of trust and security within an organization. That way, says Hudson, employees can feel comfortable sharing their ideas and perspectives while expressing their opinions when something isn’t working or something is worrying them.

Hudson said managers should look at problem areas, areas where they are losing talent, and see what they can address and fix with a focus on diversity and inclusion. In addition, she advised opening the conversation on the goals of rebuilding the corporate culture in order to attract new talent. Once you have that conversation, Hudson said, focus your leaders on the language you want to use.

“You don’t have to boil the ocean overnight. Start somewhere, start this conversation, and apply these rules of conduct,” said Hudson.

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