Bob Clark is founder and executive chairman of Claycoa design-build company with over 30 years of experience in the industry.
For more than a quarter of a century, I’ve worked to build a life and business fueled by the invaluable value of diversity. Weaving diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives into the workforce adds immeasurable importance to any team, forming integral communities that represent the various demographics that make up today’s society. DEI-focused businesses promote human rights, broaden perspectives, and maximize productivity with a welcoming and safe atmosphere for all. These endeavors also provide ambitious team members with equal opportunities to thrive in their roles, have avenues to break into professional industries and launch their careers and endeavors.
Leading a team with innovation and equity can create an environment where individuals feel free to be the best version of themselves. If building a multicultural workforce isn’t a substantial boost just for cultural and moral reasons, it’s also good for the bottom line. Research shows that diversity in executive teams can lead to better financial performance. There are many ways to ensure your institution cultivates an inviting and diverse workplace, from adding DEI programs and officials to your teams, to applying helpful tracking tools and programs and enabling productive conversations.
Deploy DEI tools in your company
When I founded Clayco 38 years ago, my goal was to create a full-service, turnkey design, build, and construction company that brought authentic value to the heart of communities. Like many other industries, the construction industry was then – and still is – in dire need of diversification in the creation and occupation of spaces. To meet the need, I’ve made it my goal to build “outside the walls” of our structures and offer programs that directly benefit underserved neighborhoods. One of the best ways to drive change in any industry is to introduce comprehensive DEI agendas to companies’ offerings.
I believe that DEI should be absolutely necessary for any project and designed to create meaningful opportunities for employees, minority and women owned businesses (MWBE) and those who do not have access to the necessary tools to succeed. Diversity officers are helpful to ensure that a company’s mission of inclusion and representation remains on track and best serves the team members and partners who need it most. They are trained civil servants with the experience and knowledge needed to address the inequality-related issues faced by minorities and create a work culture where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Some tools provide useful data and insights for your organization to improve performance and promote fairness. Leaders must break down the barriers of income, race, sexual orientation and gender to create inclusive and safe spaces using all available resources.
Incentive programs for positive change
Being an effective leader is about building meaningful change from the ground up. Shifting industries to DEI starts with our responsibility to step into communities and lend a helping hand. Our job is to advocate for underrepresented groups and do everything we can to foster an atmosphere of evolution that highlights the inherent benefits of diversity through comprehensive programs. A great way for companies to support people of color and underserved demographics is to implement diversity and inclusion initiatives into company-wide processes. To effectively support these efforts, it is critical to listen to employee feedback and routinely review company leadership and policies to ensure everyone is taking the necessary steps to achieve equity goals. Facilitating opportunity, relationships and responsibility for all – free from discrimination – as leaders have a strong people focus and follow philanthropy and practices that reflect this mission.
Clayco’s Construction Career Development Initiative (CCDI) is committed to bringing diversity to the construction industry and connecting minority youth with career opportunities, mentorships, and resources. Only 10.9% of construction workers are female and 6.7% are black or African American, and as of 2018 46% of employees in the LGTBQ community were cooped up at work. Community-based organizations that focus on combating the inequalities and dangers that disadvantaged groups continue to face are essential. Making positive connections can spark change and have a direct impact on people far and wide.
Build and communicate inclusion
We are at a time in history when there is growing awareness and an even greater receptiveness to the challenges posed by systemic racism and inequality. Perhaps one of the best ways for leaders to foster inclusion and promote multicultural spaces is also perhaps the simplest: through open conversation. Highlighting and discussing key facts, such as those in 2021, Crist|Kolder Associates found it That S&P 500 and Fortune 500 companies with only 20 Latinx CEOs, six Black CEOs, and 40 Asian-American CEOs can help people understand why these numbers are shockingly low compared to the general population of these demographics. Teams need the full support of leadership to break down powerful subconscious biases with anti-discrimination and anti-racism training and open, honest, regular dialogue to drive change. It is crucial to approach sensitive subjects in a way that is not hostile, but that pushes us to use our mind in a radically different way.
A lack of diversity in the workplace is a self-imposed barrier to innovation. Leaders who don’t embrace the DEI policy are doing their company a disservice by not allowing it to thrive with new strategies, fresh ideas and eclectic talent. We must focus on nurturing relationships in all processes to ensure equal opportunity for people of color, women, minorities and everyone. These elements should be as fundamental to business as sales, strategy and day-to-day operations.
If leaders work to promote change by hiring diversity officers, implementing DEI tools, creating and deploying programs that benefit communities, and encouraging honest dialogue on social issues, this could encourage us to improve our ideas, economy and future. progress. With sincere efforts and initiatives focused on diversity, we can be part of the solution for a more inclusive future for our workforce and the world.