Construction is a melting pot of people of different colors. Our employees herald from different nations and varying economic backgrounds.
When we employ people on our projects, or promote people, or award salary increases or bonuses, how many of these decisions are made completely without bias or regard to the person’s appearance? It’s easy to get into the trap of certain nationalities being more suited to a specific job – a scaffolder, ironman or carpenter.
We might label each nationality, and we may laugh. Yet somewhere in the back of our mind, this label often sticks.
I recently was watching a television program where a partially disabled person had been searching for a job for eight years. Another had been in prison, and four years after being released nobody was prepared to offer her a job. They were desperate for a job. Was a partial disability, or a prison sentence enough to condemn them to never having a full-time job?
Does no company have a place for them?
The Power of Preconceptions
We all take our preconceptions with us. Our upbringing, the environment we grew up in, our past experiences, and of course, the people we associate with―all these contribute to the way we act and operate.
Managers sometimes base promotion decisions on who it offends, rather than who is the best person for the job.
In some cases, managers give jobs and promotions to family and friends or promote people the manager likes or a person who always agrees with them. Nepotism is a form of discrimination.
Inevitably, this rewards the poor performing employee, causing good employees to leave. Indeed, it never ceases to surprise me how people let their personal likes and dislikes, their personal petty attitudes, get in the way of making rational decisions in the best interests of the company and the project.
If a person wants to work, why should we stand in their way? If the person is right for the position, why shouldn’t we promote them?
It’s nonsensical to favor one person over another because of their background, appearance, color, gender or nationality. It’s harmful to our project and company when we make decisions based on our perceptions of the person’s ability founded purely on their appearance, rather than on their actions, qualification, and experience.
Why pigeonhole somebody based on our expectations of that person because of their background and ethnicity? How dare we make such assumptions without first giving them a chance to show their worth?
Better Diversity in Construction
Construction is crying out for hard-working, skilled workers. We cannot afford to turn away someone based solely on their appearance, color, nationality or religion.
We certainly shouldn’t be placing somebody in a role because we assume that’s where they fit. Nor should we allow others in the organization to let their personal likes and dislikes negatively impact the project.
It’s time to give people an opportunity to show their potential. We should never let our personal likes or dislikes impact the way we manage our projects.
How do you promote diversity at your construction company?