Good afternoon everyone,
Today, International Women's Day (IWD), is a global day celebrating women's social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. The day marks a call to action to address a question that is of great importance to our industry's future - how can we best recognise and harness the power of diversity, equity and inclusion, and #choosetochallenge by consistently committing to calling out inequity?
At our sold-out 2021 MBVIWD event last Thursday, people from the building and construction industry demonstrated that they whole-heartedly embrace this question and the #choosetochallenge call to action. Every person at our event took a step in choosing to challenge why there aren't more women in our industry. You see, International Women's Day is not just for women. People of all gender identities are advocates and champions of change that accelerate equity and inclusion.
Gender bias persists in modern workplaces, and we would have our heads in the sand if we didn't acknowledge it in our own industry. The demographics tell us there is a way to go. Women make up just 1 per cent of Australia's construction workforce on the tools, despite one in 10 jobs in Victoria being in the building industry.
So, we need more people actively making that experience for women in our industry a positive one all year round. Only then can we start to change those lopsided numbers. I call upon all people in our industry to encourage more women to join and provide an environment and culture where they can thrive. And why wouldn't we want to unlock 50% of the population to help us get better?!
As our world changes more rapidly than ever before, incorporating diversity into our workplaces becomes even more critical. In a diverse workplace, team members are exposed to multiple perspectives, worldviews, and potential solutions.
At MBV, we've learned through experience that when these varied perspectives combine, they do so in novel ways, opening the door to adaptation and innovation. We know that responsive adaptation and innovation are crucial to industry growth. Diverse workplaces make better decisions faster and experience higher team member engagement and retention. The benefits that await are never-ending.
Change happens one step at a time. You don't need to make a massive shift at once (although we'll support you if you do!). At MBV, some of the simple steps we have taken have had the most significant foundational impact – and these include:
- Opening an ongoing and open dialogue with our teams. We give all our team members a voice to drive innovation and adaptation.
- We expect and celebrate difference.
- We continue to invest in developing and sustaining an organisational culture where all team members belong and thrive.
- We've made diversity, equity, and inclusion part of everything we do.
- We encourage constructive, uncomfortable conversation. Our team members practise this in their daily lives and challenge and call out stereotypes and bias.
For our industry, diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just a nice to have. They are imperative and everyone's responsibility. A challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change. Let's all choose to challenge.
Call to action
Some of our members have already made a great start in forging gender equity in the building and construction industry. One member that attended our event on Thursday advised that their organisation would immediately instigate a gender audit and progress some of the ideas put forward by our panel members – one of those ideas was simply providing a female toilet on site.
For my part, I personally pledge to leverage our people, relationships, influence, and our growth to empower the building and construction industry to build a better future.
And, in return, I am asking: how will you help forge gender equity in our industry?
I look forward to hearing about your progress!