It’s well-known that women in the workplace face certain struggles such as a disparity in pay and opportunity. But women in construction often experience challenges extending well beyond the mainstream into discussions of practical necessity and safety. Imagine a jobsite with gloves designed for hands twice your size or safety vests that don’t fit properly. What’s more, women are grossly under-represented in construction when compared to other occupations. According to recent figures, women comprise only 9.1 percent of the construction workforce. Only the logging industry employs fewer females.
With these concerns in mind, Heico Construction Group recently formed a women’s resource group designed to open the discussion about challenges women face and how we as a company can offer support. Known as the Professional Women’s Network, this group will provide resources for personal and professional growth and engage more women in our workplace. While specifically designed for women, the group will include male participation to offer support, guidance, training and mentorship as the program develops.
Why a Resource Group?
Resource groups first began decades ago as a response to racial tension in the 1960s. Today, 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have employee resource groups, or ERGs, focusing on developmental segments of their employee populations. Many of our customers such as Skanska, JE Dunn and Turner currently have ERGs, and studies show their effectiveness. For companies with ERGs, retention and recruiting rates increase on average of 40 percent. According to 2017 cumulative Gallup Workplace Studies, companies with inclusive cultures do better on several indicators than those that are not inclusive: increases in customer satisfaction by 39 percent, productivity by 22 percent and profitability by 27 percent; turnover has decreased by 22 percent.
Catalyst, an organization that works to build inclusive workplaces, has found that teams with an equal mix of men and women outperform male-dominated teams in both profits and sales. By providing resources for personal and professional growth and actively engaging more women, we’re continuing with our mission to create a company culture where employees feel like family and remain on-board. This type of inclusive company culture attracts top talent, both male and female.
Our PWN group is planned to meet twice each year in different locations around the country. Each two-day event will be a combination of training topics, site visits and networking opportunities. Critical to the PWN is the concept that it’s the beginning of the conversation. It’s not a one-time discussion. We’ll continue to have a dialogue about ways to support women in the workplace, and it’s an opportunity for us to educate every employee about the challenges women face in a male-dominated industry.
We’re excited to see what the Professional Women’s Network will accomplish for women working at a Heico Construction Group company. It’s a journey we’re taking, rather than a single event, and we can’t wait to see where it takes us.