Bringing Women and Minorities Into the Construction Fold
It's no revelation, just a simple fact: The health of our industry is intimately tied to that of the construction field. When materials and labor are hard to come by, self-storage also suffers. Right now, construction is experiencing a woeful shortage of skilled workers. If you look at the press releases posted to the RSS feed this week, you'll see what some organizations are doing to attract talent to the fold. And two of the most targeted worker pools are women and minorities.
I received the following editorial this morning from Associated Builders and Contractors, a national organization representing more than 23,000 construction-related firms in 79 chapters nationwide. National Chairman Jack Darnall, also vice president and healthcare-division manager for general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie in Birmingham, Ala., discusses the recent agreements ABC entered with the National Association of Minority Contractors and Women Construction Owners and Executives. I thought I would share it here, as it should interest self-storage developers and—especially—contractors. Let me know your thoughts.
Our nation is known as the Land of Opportunity, and the men and women in the U.S. construction industry play a central role in creating and sustaining those opportunities. In construction, individuals are not judged by the color of their skin, their ethnicity or their gender. They are judged by the quality of their work, their integrity and their skill.
This is one of the founding principles of my association, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), which believes in open competition and free enterprise. To underscore its guiding philosophy, ABC has signed two national-level agreements with the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) and Women Construction Owners and Executives, USA (WCOE) to promote free enterprise, open competition and opportunities for all construction firms.
The agreements stem from a shared belief between ABC, NAMC and WCOE that in order for the U.S. construction industry to remain competitive in a global economy, it must continue to diversify its workforce by attracting significantly more women and more members of the minority community into the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, in 2004, women represented 12 percent of all construction industry workers, while African-Americans represented 9 percent and workers of Hispanic origin represented 30 percent.
The agreements underscore each association’s firm belief that the U.S. construction industry has a tremendous need for skilled and motivated workers and executives from all segments of the population.
The strategic alliances, which were officially entered into during ABC’s Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, will allow construction industry leaders to develop national initiatives designed to improve the business climate for all contractors, and to empower minority- and women-owned firms by providing them with access to services, training, networking and other programs. These national-level agreements are also expected to trigger similar partnerships among each association’s local members nationwide.
With the assistance of NAMC and WCOE, ABC will develop and distribute to its chapters materials to assist non-minority construction firms to effortlessly do business with historically under-utilized minority- and women-owned businesses.
To increase their professional expertise within the construction industry, members of NAMC and WCOE will join with ABC members to encourage and help facilitate joint educational and training programs among each organization’s respective local chapters, including programs in craft training, management education and safety training.
Additionally, ABC and NAMC will work together to support the use of mentor-protégé programs that allow ABC’s larger, more-experienced contractor member firms to share their experience and industry knowledge with smaller, minority-owned contracting firms. This program will provide NAMC members with access to valuable information, networks and resources to help improve their businesses and ultimately strengthen the entire industry.
Finally, to ensure that all contractors have a fair and equal opportunity to bid on federal, state or locally funded construction projects, ABC will work with NAMC and WCOE on legislative initiatives common to both organizations that will prevent such practices as the use of union-only project labor agreements and other procurement mechanisms that subvert free and open competition within the local, state and federal public works sectors of the construction industry.
Opportunities abound for those who are able to complete high-quality projects on time and under budget. Together, ABC, NAMC and WCOE will work to create better opportunities for the entire industry, and will build a strong foundation for the next generation of construction professionals.