At D-Mar, we are passionate about increasing the number of women in construction. Not only because our leader is a woman, but because we recognize the benefits of an inclusive workforce that brings together diverse knowledge and perspectives.
Doreen Caudell, D-Mar’s President & Owner, is candid about her experience as a female primary contractor: “I haven’t always received equal opportunities.” Equal opportunity is the crux of the gender disparity issue. There are ways to level the field to give everyone a chance to both play and excel.
We can start by creating an inclusive job site.
Why You Need an Inclusive Job Site
Equal opportunity does not automatically translate into equal access. A job that presents itself as an equal opportunity for women that fails to provide adequate health measures, safety equipment, training, or conditions free from hostility and harassment is not truly an equal opportunity. Without equal access to the tools, resources, and supportive workplace culture necessary to do the job well, women have little chance of success. Opportunities get women in the door; access gives them the power and agency to stay.
An inclusive job site also helps to mitigate danger by creating an environment of mutual respect. In any industry, respect among coworkers is crucial to building a collaborative, productive team, and achieving success. On a construction site, the ability to communicate effectively helps prevent accidents and injuries.
How To Create an Inclusive Job Site
Focusing on these three factors will help you create an inclusive job site: health and safety protocols, training and support systems, and a secure, respectful environment.
Health & Safety
The one-size-fits-all approach no longer works in construction if it ever truly did. Both men and women face health and safety concerns on job sites; however, most job sites cater to the needs of most men where tools, personal protective equipment (PPE), and sanitation are concerned.
Typical tools, such as wrenches, and PPE, such as gloves, hard hats, safety goggles, and protective harnesses, are often too large or poorly fitted for women and some men, which is extremely dangerous. Providing these items in multiple sizes enables everyone on the job to work safely and efficiently.
Adequate sanitation facilities present another challenge for women when many sites have only one portable restroom and it’s often unkempt. Restrooms should provide accommodations for women, be clean and stocked, with working locks and access to water for handwashing.
Training & Support
The reality is that construction can be a boy’s club. While women must take initiative to be part of the team, they can’t learn the tricks of the trade alone. It’s up to the men and women who have established themselves in this industry to serve as role models and lower the ladder back down for others to climb up. Opening opportunities to women opens them up to more men as well. Providing all employees with equal access to workplace training and mentoring strengthens the whole team.
Secure, Respectful Environment
Construction, like all industries, is not immune to harassment and hostility toward women and men. Ensuring a secure, respectful workplace culture for all employees starts with leadership taking these issues seriously and adopting appropriate policies, procedures, and training to mitigate them.
More Women in Construction is Good Business
Adding more women to the construction workforce is good for the industry. Construction is growing by leaps and bounds, and we need more workers to fill in the gaps, especially as older tradespeople retire. Widening the talent pool to recruit more women will drive our projects forward.
Likewise, bringing both men and women to the table is good for our businesses. The input of multiple perspectives improves decision making, performance, and outcomes, which helps us win jobs and strengthen our customer relationships.
Normalizing Women in Construction
As a family-owned and certified Women’s Business Enterprise, D-Mar understands the responsibility to lead and uplift future generations and serve as role models for inclusivity and diversity. We proudly support a number of women’s organizations, including National Association of Women in Construction, Working Women of Tampa Bay, AchieveHERs, Habitat Hammers & Heels, and The Woman on the Way Program.
We look forward to the day when seeing women on a construction site is as normal as seeing men. We are committed to doing our part to make this happen by encouraging more workforce development for youth and young adults. Through early engagement, we can provide equal opportunities and access, as well as support and encouragement to both women and men in the construction field.