Women are often put in the spotlight in the construction industry. Despite occupying a relatively small percentage of the industry, successful women can be found at virtually every level within construction companies. Below, a Central FL construction lawyer with Cotney Construction Law will discuss the current state of women in the construction industry. As we will see throughout this article, women face unique challenges in our industry. As an employer, you must be cognizant of these challenges while providing your workers with equal treatment.
Looking at the Numbers
Women currently occupy about 9.9 percent of the construction industry. However, women traditionally occupy executive, assistant, and secretarial roles, and this figure is likely misleading. In reality, closer to three percent of women construction workers are in the field.
And yet, the construction industry is currently experiencing labor shortages all across the country. The industry is going to continue to grow in 2020. And as we’ve covered previously, diversity brings with it its own set of benefits. A diverse workforce is more creative and can problem-solve with solutions that only their differing backgrounds can provide. In order to grow and meet the labor demands of the construction industry, companies need to not only recruit women but also understand the barriers they may be facing in this industry.
The Challenges They Face
Despite the Great Recession occurring over 10 years ago, the construction industry still carries the scars from this financial crisis. When the recession hit, many professionals, including women, abandoned the construction industry in search of more reliable careers. This event made a career in the industry unattractive for an entire generation of men and women. However, women face challenges in the construction industry that only they contend with. These challenges make starting and prospering in a career difficult for women at all levels of the construction industry. Their challenges are as follows:
The Glass Ceiling
There are conflicting reports regarding the gender pay gap in the construction industry. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that women in construction are paid 17 percent less than male workers. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women make 95.7 percent of what their male co-workers make. While both of these statistics are far better than the 19.9 percent gender gap that women experience as a whole in all industries, there are those that would argue that there should be no gender gap at all. Bottom line: women want to be paid fairly for their services; they want to be paid as much as their male co-workers. In addition to paying your workers equally, your company should monitor pay equality across the board.
A Male-Dominated Industry
Considering that only three percent of women are working in the field, it’s not hyperbole to say that this is a male-dominated industry. Of course, this isn’t the fault of a single contractor, and you can’t be blamed for working with the team available to you. But you must be cognizant of how this appears to women considering a career in construction. The small percentage of women in the construction industry appear drastically outnumbered. Many women in this industry have been passed up for promotions solely because of their gender. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that women believe they have to work harder to be included and appreciated.
Remember, this isn’t about giving women an unfair advantage. This is about treating everyone equally. Never allow gender to cloud your judgment on advancing skilled workers. You can further remove barriers by fostering an inclusive work environment and including women in events and conversations whenever you can.
As we’ve covered previously, sexual harassment is pervasive in the construction industry. It can take the form of unwanted advances, physical contact, and inappropriate jokes and comments, among other forms. In many cases, even an offhand comment can be considered sexual harassment. Claims of harassment can result in a costly lawsuit, an embarrassing blemish on your company’s reputation, and the loss of irreplaceable workers. If you truly want women to join and stay with your company, you must take the situation seriously when they come forward with allegations.
As for your workforce, discrimination training and a comprehensive employee manual can go a long way towards curbing instances of sexual harassment. If this seems like special treatment, it’s not. Just like you would train your workers to be safe around hazards and heavy machinery, you must train your workers to hold themselves to the highest standards. For assistance with putting together an employee manual and handling instances of sexual harassment, consult a Hillsborough County construction lawyer.
Where Do We Go From Here?
As we’ve seen, women occupy a small percentage of the workforce, yet their inclusion could have a big impact on companies struggling to meet labor demands. The construction industry still has a long way to go, but training programs and organizations like National Women in Roofing (NWIR) show that advances are being made to empower women in this industry. By reading this article and being mindful of the challenges women face, you are already taking steps to better your company and this industry.
For legal assistance with implementing the changes recommended in this article, consult the Hillsborough County construction lawyers from Cotney Construction Law. From creating employee manuals to finding the best course of action following a sexual harassment claim, our team of attorneys is equipped to help your company grow into the forward-thinking and successful company it can be.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.