Celebrating Women in Construction Week: Advancing Inclusivity and Equality in the Industry

Dear HR Professionals,

This week is Women in Construction Week, and it’s an opportune time to celebrate the remarkable contributions of women in the construction industry and renew our commitment to fostering inclusivity and equality. This annual event shines a spotlight on the invaluable role that women play in shaping the future of construction, while highlighting the importance of inclusive hiring practices, affirmative action compliance, and gender equality initiatives.

According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women constitute only a small fraction of the construction workforce, comprising 10.8% of the total workforce in 2023. Compared to being 47% of the TOTAL workforce in all industries, this is pretty low. Reasons may include gender bias and gender stereotypes. These are areas that we, as HR professionals, need to try and counter.

However, despite facing numerous challenges such as discrimination (which 89% of women in construction have experienced) and stereotypes, women in construction continue to defy expectations and excel in various roles, from engineers and project managers to heavy equipment operators and tradespeople.

But still, of that 10.8%, only 24.6% are in actual construction roles, with most of the rest (72.2%) being in sales, office staff, or management. Transportation and Service are only 3.2%.

Speaking of women in construction management, the BigRentz article profiles 3 women construction CEOs and mentions another woman president and owner of a construction firm. Much of the data in this piece is sourced from that article, and it’s well worth reading.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion: Key Strategies for Success

To promote diversity and inclusion in the construction industry, organizations must adopt proactive strategies that empower women and create a supportive work environment. This includes:

  1. Recruitment and Retention Initiatives: Implement targeted recruitment efforts to attract and retain female talent in construction, including apprenticeship programs, mentorship opportunities, and flexible work arrangements. But don’t ignore other populations with likely qualified potential applicants. Affirmative Action in business means giving opportunity to apply for work they are qualified for, not guaranteeing being hired or promoted. Always hire the best candidate for the job, and remember to thoroughly document it. You’d be surprised how many of those best for the job will be women. More on hiring/recruiting below.
  2. Education and Training Programs: Provide access to education and training programs that equip women with the technical skills and knowledge needed to succeed in construction careers, including STEM education initiatives and specialized training courses.
  3. Leadership Development: Cultivate a pipeline of female leaders through leadership development programs, networking opportunities, and mentorship initiatives that empower women to advance into management and executive roles within the industry.
  4. Workplace Culture and Support Systems: Foster a workplace culture that values diversity, promotes inclusion, and provides support systems for women in construction, including employee resource groups, diversity councils, and anti-discrimination policies.

By prioritizing these strategies, construction companies can create an environment where women feel valued, respected, and empowered to thrive in their careers.

Promoting Inclusive Hiring Practices

One of the key pillars of fostering diversity in the construction industry is adopting inclusive hiring practices that actively encourage the recruitment and retention of women. According to insights from BigRentz, companies that prioritize diversity in their recruitment efforts are better positioned to attract top talent and drive innovation. By implementing outreach programs, mentorship initiatives, and targeted recruitment efforts, companies can attract a more diverse talent pool and create opportunities for women and other great talent from across the population to thrive in construction careers. Embracing diversity not only strengthens teams but also enhances innovation, creativity, and overall productivity.

Ensuring Affirmative Action Compliance

In the pursuit of gender equality in construction, especially if you are a government contractor or subcontractor, it’s essential for companies to prioritize affirmative action compliance and create a level playing field for all employees. (Again, providing opportunity, not guarantees. It is not a quota system. And document it!) By proactively addressing barriers to entry and advancement, organizations can dismantle systemic inequalities and create pathways for women to excel in every facet of the industry. According to data from The Constructor, companies with robust affirmative action programs experience higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention. From equitable hiring practices to fair promotion policies, affirmative action initiatives play a vital role in driving meaningful change and fostering a culture of inclusivity.

Advocating for Pay Equity

According to NAWIC (the National Association of Women in Construction), women in construction actually make 95.5% of what men do, making this one of the most equitable industries when it comes to pay. NAWIC mentions that on their website as an incentive for women to consider construction work. However, there’s another 4.5% needed for the pay practice to be fair, and 4.5% adds up. HR professionals have a critical role to play in advocating for gender equality and ensuring fair and transparent compensation practices.

According to research from BigRentz, companies that prioritize gender equality and pay equity experience higher levels of employee engagement and productivity. By conducting regular pay equity audits, promoting salary transparency, and providing equal opportunities for career advancement, organizations can address systemic inequities and create a more equitable workplace for all employees. And the companies that do make more money. Who doesn’t want that?

Embracing Diversity, Driving Progress

As we celebrate Women in Construction Week, let us reaffirm our commitment to advancing inclusivity, diversity, and equality in the construction industry. By championing inclusive hiring practices, ensuring affirmative action compliance, and advocating for gender equality and pay equity, we can create a more inclusive and equitable future for women in construction. Together, let us build a workforce where every individual has the opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of gender or background.  




HR Unlimited, Inc. specializes in helping federal contractors and employers effectively meet their AAP and EEO compliance obligations. Please contact us to discuss any of your questions, concerns, or needs in this area.