Editorial: 11.08.2018

Building a Strong Industry for the Future

— Scott Wittkop, President & Chief Operating Officer

Diverse perspectives drive better outcomes

woman in hard hat with sun setting behind her

Workforce Diversity in Construction

How will the construction industry address the ongoing shortage of talent at all levels? One answer is as simple as it is compelling: tap into a broader and more diverse pool of candidates. There is no shortage of opportunity with U.S. construction activity heating up. The demand is certainly there. Along with this opportunity, however, is another potentially even more powerful benefit of expanding the talent pool -- the evidence shows that more diverse companies outperform other companies, delivering more creative solutions for clients and strengthening business performance.1 That’s a win-win for our industry.

While women have a strong presence in other industries — nearly half of the entry-level workforce in 2017— the construction industry lags behind at just over 9 percent for all categories combined, from entry level to the C-suite.3 As one of the nation’s premier building companies, McCarthy is dedicated to reversing the “diversity gap” in our industry and expanding opportunities for all. One example of how we are putting this into practice is through the McCarthy Partnership for Women employee resource group, which has a coordinated national/local approach to develop and support a culture where the best women want to come and stay for their careers.

Here are several other best practices McCarthy employs to broaden diversity in our own organization, as well as supporting the construction industry as a whole:

Our strategy for the future

  1. Gaining a broader perspective: By bringing in a wider variety of viewpoints and experiences, we more effectively address challenges, strengthen relationships and make more innovative and informed decisions. An important part of this is actively training our leadership to seek out diverse opinions. After all, if we don’t encourage and act on these perspectives, they can never help us grow as individuals and as an organization.
  2. Building bridges: As a culture of builders, we should reflect the communities where we build and the clients we serve. At McCarthy, we specialize in several industries that are highly diverse, such as healthcare, education and technology. Our workforce should reflect the entire spectrum of people who will depend on the structures we build. Otherwise, how can we truly understand and deliver on their needs?
  3. Creating a culture of opportunity: While women hold a variety of management and leadership positions throughout McCarthy, we’re just getting started. At the heart of our company, we strive to create an environment in which the only barrier to success is the level of effort and talent a person brings to the job. That so many of our employee-owners build their careers here is a testament to the fact that our approach is working.
  4. Thinking ahead: To not only address the current labor shortage but also help prevent them in the future, we take a generational approach to outreach and recruitment. By introducing youth to the many opportunities in the construction industry, we hope to ensure there will always be a reliable source of ready talent. We do this by visiting schools and community groups and by speaking with students and parents about the many rewarding career options.
  5. Joining together: We cannot make real change alone. We are proactively reaching out to industry peers and partners, clients and community members to join us in this effort. Construction offers a wide range of rewarding career options that should be accessible to all.

From our own experience, we know that diverse companies drive better outcomes—from the decisions they make to the relationships they build. Yes, the business case is clear. But beyond this, empowering diverse perspectives strengthens our most precious resource: the people who are the heart of our industry.

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About the Author

Scott Wittkop currently serves as the corporate president and chief operating officer for McCarthy Holdings, Inc., overseeing all operations for the builder's regions and affiliates. He joined McCarthy as a project engineer in 1986, holding a variety of field and regional leadership positions prior to assuming his current national role in 2015. Scott is a strong industry voice on the topics of workforce development, diversity and outreach, and currently serves as the McCarthy executive sponsor for McCarthy Partnership for Women.

McKinsey & Company. Diversity Matters, 2015.

McKinsey & Company. Women in the Workplace, 2017.

The National Association of Women in Construction.

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