Diversity and inclusion – the right thing and the smart thing for construction

The Construction Sector Accord has produced new research and a roadmap to promote and support diversity in construction.

The Construction Sector Accord has produced new research and a roadmap to promote and support diversity in construction.

The Diversity Roadmap was developed in partnership with Diversity Works New Zealand, the national body for workplace diversity and inclusion, and is the first ever in-depth research on diversity and inclusion practices across a whole sector.

The project aimed to better understand the barriers to diversity and what gaps exist in the industry, and then map the steps for transformation to help build a sustainable, diverse, and inclusive workforce.

One of the biggest challenges facing the industry is the shortage of people and skills in the sector, impacting its capacity to deliver the growing pipeline of construction projects. Women make up only 18 percent of the construction-related workforce in New Zealand and Māori and Pasifika are underrepresented in skilled professions and leadership roles.

Tracey Ryan, Accord Steering Group co-chair and Managing Director – New Zealand at Aurecon, says it is vital that our industry gets serious about diversity and inclusion.

"The business case for greater diversity is well understood and generally accepted however, the dial needs to be turned further if we want to truly tackle the challenges of our industry into the future," says Ryan.

"We are designing and building complex infrastructure solutions that will impact many generations to come. How can we do that if we, and the teams we form, don't reflect the diversity of the communities for whom we are providing these solutions. How can we tackle the skills shortages being seen around the world by only tapping into 50% of our population?

"Put simply, diversity and inclusion are not only providing good social outcomes, they are also a key metric to drive better outcomes for business."

Some of the key issues identified in the research include knowledge gaps about what diversity and inclusion looks like for the industry, not enough support for members of the Rainbow community, older workers and people with disabilities, and a lack of formal diversity and inclusion processes.

"We found that many organisations want to improve their diversity and inclusion, but they don't know where to start or are worried about getting it wrong," says Diversity Works New Zealand Chief Executive, Maretha Smit.

"Starting out on a diversity journey can be daunting and this work helps provide easy-to-access, easy-to-understand and easy-to-apply steps and solutions for people who want to make positive change for their organisations and the wider sector."

Workshop participants included everyone from apprentices, right through to senior and chief executive level representatives from across the construction and infrastructure industry.

Using the research, the Diversity Roadmap report identified five key goals and 19 recommendations for the sector to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in construction.

The key goals identified in the roadmap are:

  • A high level of diversity and inclusion knowledge across the sector
  • Clear pathways into construction and career development for diverse groups
  • Robust procedures in place to maintain and build on gains in diversity and inclusion
  • Inclusive behavioural skills are highly valued
  • Safe and healthy workplaces, rooted in bicultural competence.

Part of the project also included creating the Online Roadmap Tool – a free online tool where people answer a few questions to receive a personal diversity roadmap for themselves, or their organisation, that’s customised to their current diversity maturity levels and type of organisation.

The tool is a platform where construction organisations, leaders and employees can find out how to begin and progress their journey to improving diversity and inclusion in their business.

"The assessment tool will empower organisations to benchmark themselves against their peers and help develop organisation specific goals and interventions to create more sustainable workforces," says Smit.

Achieving a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive construction sector will take decades, if not generations. The report and associated online tool are focussed on actions over the next two years to provide a solid foundation and momentum for ongoing transformation across the sector.

The Accord will work with the construction sector to progress the recommendations from the roadmap. This will be done in the Transformation Plan 2022-2025, which will focus on supporting the development, attraction and retention of the workforce of tomorrow.

"We need to remember that we are all responsible for creating a diverse and inclusive environment where everyone can thrive," says Ryan.

"We all need to work together as a sector, so I encourage you to read the reports from the project and use the Online Roadmap Tool.

"Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, ēngari he toa takitini – success is not the work of one, but that of many."

Use the Diversity Roadmap tool(external link)   simpleandengaging.com

Read the Diversity Roadmap report [PDF, 3.7 MB]

Read the Gap Analysis report [PDF 7.7MB](external link)   diversityworksnz.org.nz

Last updated: 30 June 2022