Editorial: 10.29.2020

Building Diverse Teams is Key to Building our Community’s Future

— Monica Bailey, Director of Diversity, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.

monica bailey head shot

When McCarthy Building Companies introduced our diversity and inclusion program more than 16 years ago, I stepped into a new, first-of-its-kind role within the local construction industry.

McCarthy’s early commitment to diversity reflected our desire to be proactive in assembling construction teams that fully reflect the communities that they serve.

I’ve been fortunate to help guide our D&I initiative from day one. This involves working closely with the minority- and women-owned businesses in town to mentor, support and help them succeed.

As the largest contractor in St. Louis, McCarthy has a unique responsibility to help foster a diverse, thriving community of local businesses. Having a strong team of qualified industry partners supports innovation and creativity that not only drive better solutions for our clients, but is also good for our community.

By working with a variety of local construction partners, we help increase their capacity, which benefits every contractor that’s seeking qualified trade partners. In short, when local minority businesses succeed, it positively impacts the quality of construction work that happens across our region.

Over the years, we’ve continued to challenge ourselves and raise the bar on diversity and inclusion. On each project, we develop a customized Project-Specific Inclusion Plan (PSIP) as an intentional tool to increase diverse participation on all McCarthy projects. The PSIP outlines specific diversity targets and provides a customized, structured framework to achieve these goals.

The positive impact of our efforts is evident on some of the region’s largest and most prominent projects. McCarthy HITT, the joint venture team overseeing construction of the Next NGA West project, has hosted nine outreach events for small, Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and/or Woman Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) firms interested in working on the project. To date, more than $100 million in contracts have been awarded to these firms.

With the growing shortage of skilled construction workers in St. Louis, our commitment to diversity and inclusion also focuses on attracting and nurturing the next generation of construction talent.

This includes reaching out to elementary, middle-school and high-school students to introduce them to the many available roles within the construction trades — from electrical and plumbing work to carpentry and masonry. Construction is truly a gratifying career where you can earn an excellent living while bringing real value to the community. There’s nothing more fulfilling than driving by a project and knowing you had a hand in building it.

The St. Louis construction community is fortunate to have a group of civic and industry organizations working together to inform and attract the next generation of builders. These advocates include the Regional Business Council (RBC), the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE), the Building Union Diversity (BUD) program, MOKAN Construction Contractors Assistance Center and Ranken Technical College, among others. Because of their ongoing commitment, our region’s future buildings and infrastructure will continue to be shaped by local talent.

During my 37-year career at McCarthy, I’ve had the honor of helping many deserving and talented young people discover and build construction careers. I also take great pride in the role I’ve played in elevating D&I programs and making them “the new normal” for local construction companies.

When we bring together specialized skills and diverse perspectives, construction projects have the best possible opportunity for a successful outcome. And our entire community benefits as a result.


This article originally appeared in the St. Louis American

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