- Oct 16, 2018
There is a true business case for diversity in the workplace. Just ask Nicole Coomber, associate clinical professor at the University of Maryland. Professor Coomber, a guest speaker at Gilbane, provided some enlightening statistics. Did you know companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians? How about for every 1% rise in ethnic diversity, there is a 9% increase in sales revenue?
She also emphasized that to achieve gender and ethnic diversity in the workplace, the construction industry must be intentional about how it approaches diversity and inclusion initiatives. Based on insights from Professor Coomber’s keynote and experience, I have outlined three programs you can implement at your company to achieve diversity in not only your workforce, but also your leadership.
- Encourage mentorship in all its forms
Support mentorship relationships throughout your organization. These can be short-term opportunities and long-term opportunities. For example, Gilbane’s Executive Exchange in the Mid-Atlantic brought together executive leadership with local employees for one-on-one career conversations. This short-term mentorship opportunity allowed employees direct access to executive-level leadership. Employees were encouraged to use these conversations to develop relationships that can lead to long-term, more formal mentor-mentee relationships.
- Implement diversity task forces
According to Professor Coomber, implementing diversity task forces resulted in 18.7% more women in management roles over a five-year period. A diversity task force is a group of employees who join together in their workplace based on shared characteristics or life experiences. Gilbane recently launched diversity task forces called Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for a wide range of employees. These ERGs will have both social and business purposes and help us attract, engage, develop and retain diverse employees.
- Support external partners
There are a wide range of organizations within the construction industry that support gender and ethnic diversity. From the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to the African American Real Estate Professionals (AAREP), all of these organizations provide both mentorship and professional development for employees. Supporting organizations like these provides employees with the resources they need to become successful leaders at your company.
Diversity and inclusion has been proven to increase creativity and spur innovation. It encourages collaboration, which leads to greater productivity. Our unconscious bias can often hinder these efforts, so I encourage you to be intentional about diversity in the workplace. The benefits to your business, your clients and your employees are indisputable.