Although times are changing, it is no secret that we have a male-dominated work culture, especially within the construction industry. In part, this is because men will apply for roles when they are unqualified, while women tend to only apply for roles when they are 100% qualified. Women are also less likely to negotiate higher starting salaries, benefits packages, or ask for merit raises. Even in today’s society, if a woman is assertive or shows dominance, she is labeled as bossy, but if she is sensitive then she is seen as weak. This reinforces a male-dominated work culture. So, what can you do to ensure equality for both men and women at your construction company?
Equality at work goes beyond having non-discriminatory hiring practices. Equality means that all employees are treated equally regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or position within the organization.
Sure, that sounds good, but it does not just happen overnight. A culture of equality begins with removing discrimination or bias from all aspects of the organization’s structure, starting from the top down.
There are two main areas to look at when investigating your company’s equitable status:
Number 1: Hiring
Equal opportunity employment regulations have created diversity, but they do not protect against confirmation bias. When looking at recent hires, do your hiring managers tend to hire those who share their own personal qualities such as appearance, behaviors, or credentials? While it is human nature to be attracted to those who mirror ourselves, this is not necessarily a good thing in the workplace. Confirmation bias can prevent the best person from being hired.
It is also valuable to look at the gender differences in new hires. Are more women being hired for support staff level positions? How often are applicants who are women or people of different ethnicities interviewed and hired for upper-level positions?
Number 2: Promotions
Promotions based solely on tenure versus accomplishments or ability have long been a recipe for disaster. How much time a person puts in at their job is not always an indicator of their readiness to move up the ladder.
Creating a culture of equality begins with defining the desired qualities of your team members at all levels. This should be formally documented and include hiring practices to ensure equality. It should also indicate what is necessary for someone to be considered for bonuses and promotions. These leadership principles will help create transparency and reduce bias across the company. This living document should also be periodically reviewed to address any changes within the organization. When a promotion occurs, be sure to include each team member’s accomplishments that led to their succession.
A culture of equality may not show immediate benefits to your construction company’s day-to-day, but in time it will reap many benefits. You will see a reduction in turnover, lower hiring costs, and increased job satisfaction, all of which contributes to increased revenues.