- Jul 21, 2020
As part of Gilbane’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) Ally Series, members of our empoWer ERG, who advocate for the advancement of women within the construction industry, offer insights on intersectionality and how allyship is essential to creating an inclusive and equitable workforce and culture.
We care. The mission of empoWer is to deliver a global platform which connects, attracts, and inspires women to thrive and excel in their personal and professional lives. Our vision is to equip women to lead at Gilbane.
empoWer membership is comprised of women and allies from diverse backgrounds, races, and cultures. They live and work in cities and towns throughout the United States, as well as abroad, working in countries such as Japan and Mexico. Our diversity and the intersectionality of our members’ experiences requires we acknowledge that our approach in advocation cannot be “one size fits all.”
We ally. Intersectionality is defined as the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. While our culture advocates for the advancement of women within the construction industry by challenging the unconscious bias, our success is reliant on the ability to identify and acknowledge how women’s overlapping identities—such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, physical appearance, and class—affect the way in which they experience inequity.
For example, women comprise a small percentage of the total construction workforce nationally, only about 11%, and our goal is to create a platform that recognizes women as a viable component of the industry and provide more opportunity, however, we must also acknowledge disparities based on factors unrelated to gender, such as race or sexual orientation. The experience of a white woman working in construction is different than that of a Black woman or someone who identifies as LGBTQI+. It is this overlap of womanhood and racial or gender identity that requires a broader approach to activism, one which includes the perspectives from other marginalized groups.
Our approach recognizes the intersectional identities of our team and is reflective of the missions and visions of our partner ERGs as we strive to be inclusive to the experiences of our members and create impactful change. This allyship is essential to the advancement of women, as being a woman is not a sole identity, and through it we effectually work towards creating a system in which diverse voices can be heard and respected.
We unite. With over 20 chapters and counting, our members are working together to provide resources and opportunities for all. Through philanthropy, the propagation of educational resources, internal events, and professional development activities, we strive to create an inclusive environment through allyship where people of all backgrounds can flourish, both within their careers and in their personal lives.
We’re inspired by the commitment of our members and encourage everyone to take the steps towards inclusivity by becoming an ally. Steps you can take today are:
- Educate Yourself – Self-education is an essential element in becoming an ally and can come in many forms, from books or articles to podcasts and documentaries, there’s a lot of information available.
- Use Your Voice – Performative allyship is not enough. Fear of “saying the wrong thing” can keep many from speaking up when they feel they should, but what is important is that we are all learning, together.