Guest Blog: Women in the Workplace
In 2020, the conversation of diversity in the workplace continued. Several corporations released statements on their commitment to diversity and the steps they planned to take to support our black, brown, woman, and LGBTQ community members. As a woman in the construction industry, I’d like to highlight the value diversity in the workplace brings, from a woman’s perspective. And why we shouldn’t look at diversification as a box to be checked, but instead as a means of elevating our services, leadership, and corporate structure.
The construction industry has gone through many changes over the past several decades. Technology has changed the drawings from which we build, the way we communicate between the office and the field, and in 2020, how we collaborated. We have also seen the makeup of the workforce evolve, with more and more women pursuing careers in the built environment.
As an industry that is heavily focused on relationship building (no pun intended), I have personally seen how the addition of women in leadership, project management, and financial management have elevated our firm and the way we connect with others. Women have brought fresh perspectives, a new sense of team, and an elevated level of empathy that the company didn’t even know it was missing. Developing a team of men and women in various roles within our company has helped to elevate our conversations, our marketing efforts, and the company’s approach to the responsibility we assume on behalf of our clients. I believe all of this has made us a stronger and more influential firm. Think of the strong women figures in your life and the knowledge, expertise, passion, and heart they have brought to it. Now, imagine a world without those characteristics at the forefront of a firm influencing its organization and communication. That environment would be in stark contrast to the one with perspectives of both men and women present. Essentially, without a woman’s influence, a company is playing with half the deck.
As a member of our three-person leadership team and the only woman, I see how our lived experiences have shaped each of us and therefore shaped our approach to the challenges and decisions we face. The experiences that have led us to today are different, but our mission is unified. Our approach to problem-solving and our understanding of how the decisions we make will impact our organization varies. These perspectives fuel passionate dialogue that leads to a wider understanding of the issue at hand. It’s an awareness that could only be gained through sharing our varying points of view. I know that at the end of the day, we are making the most informed decision we can. With any one of us missing, something is sorely lost.
As leaders, it is our responsibility to see the value our individual team members bring to the table and find ways of bringing those strengths to the forefront. Leaders are responsible for finding ways to build upon those strengths, further elevating the team. We need diversity in our thought processes, in the strengths and weaknesses we offer to the team, as well as the lived experiences that we bring to anything in which we are engaged. Having those multiple perspectives driving a team forward is simply good practice.
So as we start of a new year, with the promise of a renewed vision, I encourage leaders to look at their teams and determine where they lack – then go and hire with intention. Don’t hire to meet a quota, hire to meet the need. No team is complete until women are an equal part of it, in the roles they fill and the conversations to which they contribute. Women – know your value and communicate it with humble confidence. We have a unique opportunity in this industry. It is my hope that more women embrace themselves and the value they bring when given a seat at the table.