At Procore, our vision is to improve the lives of everyone in construction. We know that in order to achieve this vision, our work must span beyond our technology and focus on partnering with the industry in navigating its more pressing challenges. We’re committed to helping build a future where our employees, customers and the broader industry can thrive. We play a unique role in the construction industry and have a valuable and special vantage point: With over two million construction professionals collaborating on our platform every day, we have the opportunity to help build a connected ecosystem of industry leaders to inspire meaningful dialogue and drive sustainable change.
Within our own four walls, our evolved strategy is based on co-creation, accountability and ownership with a focus on embedding diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) into everything that we do, with a focus on hiring inclusively and creating a culture of learning. We’re taking steps to amplify the voices of our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to drive impact, co-create an inclusive culture grounded in diversity and belonging and integrate learning experiences into the flow of work. We know that while our needs and responsibilities may be differentiated, our work will always be global and universal.
George Pfeffer, who serves as management committee chair for DPR Construction, was kind enough to answer some of my questions about the power of creating an inclusive culture rooted in belonging. A key part of our conversation focused on Construction Inclusion Week (CIW) 2022, an annual event that kicked off today to build awareness of the need to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the construction industry. As chair of this year’s CIW, DPR is leading efforts to bring construction professionals together to drive bold conversations that inspire sustainable change – all in an effort to create a future that empowers everyone in the industry to thrive.
In the following Q&A, Pfeffer shares more about how Construction Inclusion Week got started in 2021, why inclusion is important to the future of construction and ways to get involved.
PROCORE: Tell us about the Time for Change Consortium. Why now and how did this come about?
GEORGE PFEFFER: It came about from shared challenges and knowing in the construction industry we move the needle the most when we work together.
Social injustice issues continue to shine a light on things that must change and the pandemic created much uncertainty, yet we all needed to deal with the same thing. Several contractors, including DPR, were reaching out to other companies to talk through how we all were addressing these issues. It was clear that our industry has the ability to solve the issues as they exist in our industry.
So, a group of construction firms, including DPR, Gilbane, Turner, Mortenson, McCarthy and Clark came together to launch “Time for Change.” Together, and as part of that effort, we launched the inaugural Construction Inclusion Week in 2021.
PROCORE: Can you share more about what Construction Inclusion Week is and why the focus is on inclusion when the broader effort is about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)?
GEORGE PFEFFER: Inclusion and belonging are among the bedrocks of psychological safety and wellbeing. Psychological safety and physical safety are inextricably linked. Like safety, diversity, equity and inclusion are values to be practiced every day.
Construction is a service industry that is driven by the people who work with us. Prior to the pandemic, there was already a growing concern over the diminishing amount of skilled labor; that concern is greater now. Our industry has to provide an environment, a culture, that allows more people to flourish.
One main ingredient to that environment is the ability to be inclusive. Creating a more inclusive environment will attract more people to our industry and increase our ability to provide to more clients.
DEI is a three-legged stool – all legs are needed. Any one leg without the others is insufficient. If our organizations are diverse without being inclusive, we may attract diverse talent, but they will not stay, and more harm will come than good. If we are inclusive without being diverse, we will not be as innovative and productive or have ever-forward progress. Homogenous misses true progress, true change. And if we are not equitable, people will feel like there are barriers to contributing or growing and being successful. Without equity, you don’t have full engagement.
We focus on inclusion because being inclusive will create a culture where all can participate, which will then help drive diversity and the vision to being more equitable. Everybody can drive inclusion, but without it, diversity and equity cannot survive.
PROCORE: What are the drivers behind connecting industry leaders to drive meaningful change?
GEORGE PFEFFER: Inclusivity isn’t a trend: It is an existential issue for our industry as we work to foster a culture where we can attract and retain the best talent on our jobsites and in our offices. Our industry already has a skilled workforce shortage. That’s why we must unite to do all we can to address our contributing issues to the shortage and consciously, actively address them.
PROCORE: Through Construction Inclusion Week, DPR is helping construction attract, retain and develop the best talent by creating a more inclusive future. Why is DEI important to your business?
GEORGE PFEFFER: Great teams build great things, and teams are made up of people. As a people-focused business, DEI is critical. We want to build a safe place – both psychologically and physically – where people from diverse backgrounds can work together and make great things happen. DPR is on a mission to be a most admired company by 2030. When we look at the things, we believe will put us in the most admired ranks – and when we look at companies who we consider to be most admired, they’re trying to face DEI challenges head on. If we want to be at that level, and to be able to attract the talent that wants to work for those sorts of firms, it is absolutely a business imperative that we do the same.
PROCORE: What are some of the positive outcomes you’ve seen in response to investing in DEI?
GEORGE PFEFFER: I’m proud of how we’ve stepped up so far with monthly recurring webinars that get people talking about the experiences many of our employees have at work, from people of color to LGBTQ+ employees. We’re working to extend those conversations in new ways. The first steps of inclusivity are around taking the time to understand other perspectives.
I’m also proud that we’ve consciously changed the way we’re recruiting, building a great workforce will become more and more diverse. I’m proud that we are all listening, studying and learning as part of our day jobs the concepts of unconscious bias and how it affects our daily decisions.
Through all of this, we must also remember that we have many more steps to take on our journey. Consciously addressing this topic is the way forward. These types of conversations make our industry safer, and we expect they will make us more inclusive and diverse, too.
PROCORE: What are you most looking forward to about the Construction Inclusion Week session at Groundbreak?
GEORGE PFEFFER: I’m excited that industry leaders and influencers are coming together to have open discussions about inclusion while learning from each other and their respective DEI journeys. This is not a competition; rather it is our ability to learn from others and learn together how to take that next step on inclusion, whatever that next step may be for wherever you are on the journey. It only requires some openness and the desire to make things better.
If you’d like to learn more and continue the DEIB conversation, please join us at Groundbreak in New Orleans on November 7-9.
Register now to connect with thought leaders and construction professionals as they facilitate conversations leading to more engaged, productive teams.