Diversity in construction is a good thing. Not only does it help build a stronger workforce (diversity has been associated with higher levels of productivity and retention) but it’s the right thing to do. Women and non-whites are vastly underrepresented in the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2023 only 10.8% of those employed in construction were women, 6.7% were black or African American, 1.7% were Asian and 34% were Hispanic or Latino. Several government initiatives are in place to help promote a more diverse workforce, like Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) guidelines, the Million Women in Construction Initiative and the Mega Construction Project Program. 


The Mega Construction Project Program focuses on removing barriers to opportunity for women, people of color, veterans and individuals with disabilities on large federal construction projects valued at $35 million or more, some part of which must be federal funding. For each of these projects, the Office of Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) engages a wide range of organizations and programs to provide contractors with connections to diverse recruitment sources, including in underrepresented and underserved communities, so that projects can fully tap into the local workforce and get the needed talent.  

But it’s not just federal contractors who should make efforts to diversify their workforces. Focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion should be a goal for everyone. 

What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion? 

Diversity, equity and inclusion or DE&I are three closely linked values held by many organizations that are working to be supportive of different groups of individuals, including people of different races, ethnicities, religions, abilities, genders and sexual orientations, according to McKinsey & Company. While all three values tend to be lumped together, the definitions of each are distinct. 

  • Diversity refers to who is represented in the workplace including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and physical ability. 
  • Equity refers to fair treatment for all people in the workplace.  
  • Inclusion refers to workforce experiences and the degree to which organizations embrace all employees and enable them to make meaningful contributions. 

Understanding DE&I can help companies learn how to better support their workers. DE&I efforts can then be put into policies, hiring and development.  

Why You Should Concentrate on DE&I Efforts 

There are many reasons to support diversity in the workforce, including profitability. Diverse workforces have been shown to contribute to improved decision making, increased innovation and improved employee morale and satisfaction – all of which leads to better performance and increased dividends.  

According to McKinsey’s Diversity Wins report: 

  • Most employees support diversity with overall sentiment on diversity being 52% positive. 
  • Companies with gender diverse executive teams are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability. 
  • Companies with ethnic and culturally diverse workforces are 36% more profitable and the likelihood for outperformance is higher for diversity in ethnicity than in gender. 

Plus, having an inclusive workplace is also a requirement for many federal contractors, including EEO and Affirmative Action requirements.  

For example, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and related conditions, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages and benefits. 

What You Can Do to Promote DE&I 

DE&I efforts can include many different tactics. You can take extra steps in your hiring process to ensure individuals of various races, genders, ages, abilities and sexual orientations are treated equitably when being considered for a position. It could also mean creating career development paths that don’t limit or target advancement to only certain types of people. Or developing mentorship opportunities or buddy networks among diverse individuals. But companies really need to make sure those efforts aren’t in vain by pursuing an inclusive work environment.  

According to a McKinsey survey, the biggest thing a company can do is address organizational barriers to inclusion. The research finds that respondents of all backgrounds encounter barriers to feeling included — and that women, respondents who are ethnic and racial minorities, and those who identify as LGBTQ+ encounter additional challenges. 

Barriers can include unconscious bias, microaggressions, communication issues, bullying, leadership or a non-inclusive company culture. The McKinsey survey shows 84% of respondents say they’ve experienced microaggressions at work. And high levels of respondents have experienced everyday slights rooted in bias, such as not receiving credit for their ideas, being asked to speak as a representative for a group of people like themselves or being coached to communicate in a way that feels inauthentic. 

There are some actions you can take to get started. 

Do a Diversity Audit 

A diversity audit, which consists of data collection and staff consultation, can help you understand the identities that make up your workforce. It can help you figure out where your company is currently when it comes to diversity and then create a tailored DE&I strategy. 

Identify your “Why” and Create Goals 

Once you assess where you are, the next step is to define the business case and why your company could benefit from a DE&I initiative. Highlight how initiatives in this space connect to your company’s mission and values. Then identify goals, addressing the needs covered by the audit. 

Get Exec Buy-In 

Once you have the what, why and how established, it is time to engage the right stakeholders. Show them the benefits you plan to achieve and your roadmap for achieving them. 

Consider how DE&I will Evolve Over Time 

When implementing DE&I initiatives, companies need to know that DE&I is not just a trend. It is something that should be cultivated and assessed at least annually. By doing so, not only will your employees flourish, but your company will too. 

Learn more by reading these blogs. 

Need help with cultivating a more diverse workforce? Our partner Circa can help. Reach out for additional information.