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Rolling out DEI initiatives is good for business

by Richard Lyall on 03 Aug 2022

Diversity, equity and inclusion, better known by the acronym DEI, are buzzwords that permeate the workplace these days. More and more companies are starting to address the issue – and rightly so.

In the construction world, like any other industry, rolling out DEI initiatives is not only the right and moral thing to do, but there’s a good business case to be made as it also improves the bottom line.

Research has shown that companies with higher levels of ethnic and cultural diversity are more likely to see above-average profits. It makes perfect business sense, then, to have more inclusive practices.

People from diverse walks of life with different experiences bring new insights, which leads to more innovation and creativity. The more diverse a team is, the stronger and more competitive it will be. Also, a more diverse team in a company will better reflect the communities they serve.

Companies that take it to the next level and ensure that DEI is an integral part of how they interact and reward their employees are simply better companies. Such action leads to more employee engagement and increased loyalty, according to a study called Unrealized Impact 2.0. Diverse teams are more innovative and make better decisions. Organizations that don’t embrace DEI practices miss out.

A report by McKinsey & Company demonstrates that the business case for gender and ethnic diversity in top teams is stronger than ever, and concludes that the most diverse companies are now more likely to outperform non-diverse companies in profitability. The report also found that executive teams with more than 30 per cent women are more likely to outperform those with fewer or no women.

Researchers found that teams are 158 per cent more likely to understand their target customers when they have at least one member who represents their target’s gender, race, age, sexual orientation or culture. Companies with higher diversity in management earned, on average, 38 per cent more revenues than companies with lower diversity.

The vast majority of employees and job seekers pay attention to the state of DEI at companies. A Diversity and Inclusion Workplace Survey by Glassdoor shows that diversity and inclusion are essential factors for the majority of people seeking jobs. 76 per cent of employees and jobseekers report a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies.

Meanwhile, research from Catalyst, a global non-profit supported by many of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies, found that diversity and inclusion benefit individuals, organizations, teams, and society.

According to the research, diverse teams are critical for innovation. When companies establish inclusive business cultures and policies, they are 59-per-cent more likely to report an increase in creativity, innovation, and openness.

RESCON has embraced DEI and is leading the way. Staff have completed two online BuildForce Canada courses aimed at helping individuals, industry leaders, and managers understand systemic racism and embrace practices that create a more inclusive workplace. We are now encouraging construction site supervisors, project managers and on-site personnel to take the training.

RESCON, through the Anti-Racism Roundtable, is now a distributor of the courses. The courses - Introduction to Understanding Systemic Racism and Working in a Respectful and Inclusive Workplace – are $100 each and consist of several lessons that take about three hours to complete.

The courses are specifically tailored to the construction industry. Interactive elements, scenarios, videos and quizzes are used to reinforce learning. For more information about the courses, click here or contact RESCON at 905-760-7777. 

Ontario’s construction industry will need to recruit another 100,000 workers over the next decade. There is a massive pool of labour out there, and construction employers with more inclusive hiring practices will be more able to attract workers and therefore be more successful. There is also a solid health and safety argument to be made for embracing DEI. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers must provide a workplace free of physical and psychological hazards. The courses will help them create a culture of safety free from racism and harassment.

RESCON has been encouraging organizations to have conversations about DEI and make sure they are on the bandwagon. Embracing DEI makes for good business.

Richard Lyall is president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). He has represented the building industry in Ontario since 1991. Contact him at [email protected].

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