Construction industry professionals gathered virtually last week to celebrate the progress of women in construction and highlight opportunities to build a better future for the industry as a whole. The discussion was moderated by Procore’s Director of Industry of Advancement, Sasha Reed, and facilitated by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).
Advocacy, community engagement, and exposure to available resources were a few of the many topics that stood out as key components of career development and advancement for women in the industry.
“Activism and advocacy need to exist together in order to be the spark that ignites crucial conversations and inspires change.” – Sasha Reed, Director of Industry Advancement of Procore
The Progress of Women in Construction
Panelist Jill Hanson, Vice President of NAWIC, shed light on current efforts to improve women’s role in the industry by highlighting shifts in job recruitment. An increasing number of employers are seeing the benefit of having women involved in their projects and office environments, explained Hanson. While historically women were not always seen as a viable option for the job, Hanson spoke to the current steps being taken to foster more inclusive work environments, regardless of gender.
Exposure to education and opportunity also emerged as a sign of progress when Emily Thorne, Director of Professional Development and Education of NAWIC’s St. Louis Chapter 38, explained how a growing number of K-12 programs in her region are working to expose younger generations to the diversity of careers in construction. A move towards making the industry better while addressing the labor shortage so future generations can consider construction as a viable option for their career became a central source of conversation in the commentary surrounding workforce development.
Attracting and Retaining Women in Construction
In connection with the diversity of roles in the construction industry and the importance of showing women how many opportunities are out there, the panel reflected on ways to attract, engage, and retain women within their organizations. Thorne touched on the role of protective gear, like hard hats and work boots, and how organizations like the National Association of General Contractors and others are working together to create equipment that fits all genders. There’s a lot to be said for knowing the protection you need to do your job is there for you, said Thorne.
Flexible schedules, community engagement and networking opportunities were also discussed as critical tools to support women in construction and facilitate personal development. Anne Pfleger, President Elect of NAWIC, explained how employers supporting their employees to be part of associations not only benefits them but also benefits and empowers the employee to do things they may have thought they never could.
How to Find and Leverage Resources
In response to a question about how to equip women with the resources they need to succeed in the industry, the speakers shared more about the power of company culture and communication. Reed spoke to Procore’s Culture Academy, a two-day executive experience at Procore’s headquarters for construction industry professionals to come together and reflect on their company culture, and Procore’s Women in Construction Community, a virtual space for Procore customers and users to connect with others who are making a positive impact.
Representatives from NAWIC reiterated the value of online resources, including last week’s webinar, for individuals looking for accessible ways to have conversations about inclusion and diversity in their work environment. Curiosity and openness to the different perspectives and experiences of women in construction were emphasized as pathways to understanding and connecting with others in the space.
The webinar’s closing remarks left attendees with an opportunity to get involved and join the conversation by learning more about Procore’s Women in Construction initiative and reading about the impact of NAWIC’s resource-rich network.
“These resources exist to give the opportunity to any woman to do and be whatever they want to be,” said Pfleger.
Click here to watch a recording of the panel.