How Your Contracting Business Can Build an Inclusive Team

Some industries have a way of encouraging certain types of people to join, without making it easier for others who might be interested to get involved. You’ll know that you may have a problem when you realize that everyone you work with looks and acts just like you. With a serious labor shortage, construction doesn’t have the luxury of being too selective about the demographics that want to build a career here. Here are five ways you can ensure that you are building an inclusive team for your contracting business.

Identify Your Biases
It’s tempting to look at the way you live your life and conclude that you don’t have any biases, but this simply isn’t true. Everybody brings their own perspectives to the table, which means that if you don’t know what your biases are, you may simply not be paying attention. Read perspectives from people in marginalized groups in the construction industry and take notice of the things they say that bother you. This is a key to discovering which areas you may need to work on the most.

Use Inclusive Language in Job Listings
People who are in a minority in a particular industry are usually hyper-aware of this fact. This means that they are much more likely to notice subtle changes in language that make your intentions seem more inclusive or more exclusive to them. One way that you can clear a path is by removing things like gendered language from your job listings. It’s not just a matter of changing “man” to “person,” however. Language that is more likely to appeal to younger white men like “rock star” or “genius” are less likely to appeal to everyone else. Be wary of inadvertently setting an overly confident tone, as this can turn off women and people of color.

Diversify Your Business
If you’re trying to make your business more inclusive, then you need to make sure that this extends outside of your hiring practices. People will be very quick to notice if you are eager to hire women or people of color but you make no point of interacting with them as colleagues, subcontractors or clients. This means that it’s time to analyze how you run your business and determine if your biases have led you to limit who you engage with in these aspects as well. Making a few respectful changes may go a long way toward promoting a more inclusive workplace overall.

Check Your Assumptions
As soon as you read a statistic about the construction industry, your brain starts figuring out ways to justify it. This may be accurate or maybe entirely incorrect. For example, women represent about 50% of the US workforce but only 10% of the construction industry. You may have a lot of guesses as to why that is. But if you want to hire women, you may need to revisit those assumptions. Remember that the key to enticing people from marginalized groups lies in not just checking your assumptions about why people do things, but also making sure you’re not punishing them for it. For example, assuming women need flex time for childcare can be a problem by itself, but especially if you’re thinking that people who want flex time won’t be good workers.

Get an Outsider Opinion
If your family and social life is already pretty diverse, it may be easy to assume you already know how to do this. But for every person who says that they know exactly what members of a community need because they have a friend or relative with that identity, there may be millions of people rolling their eyes at that perspective. Proximity isn’t quite the same as personal experience. This means that if you want a workplace that truly caters to every qualified candidate, you will need to consult with a variety of people to find out how to achieve it. Hiring a consultant trained in inclusivity may be a worthwhile investment.

Creating an inclusive, supportive workplace is key to ensuring that your contracting business can survive years into the future. To get started, contact CSLS today!