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Diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the construction sector

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the construction sector are topics that are increasingly being raised in industry discussions, despite the fact that the sector has traditionally been considered male-dominated with little diversity. In the context of global challenges such as the need for sustainability, innovation and inclusion, the construction industry faces the task of remodeling its practices and policies to create a more open and inclusive work environment.

The current state of D&I in the construction sector 

Here are some key statistics on diversity and inclusion in the construction sector:

  • Women constitute 15% of the UK construction industry workforce, with around 2% operating on-site. / Equality, Diversity and Inclusion CIOB.
  • Disabled employees constitute 6% of the workforce. / Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, CIOB.
  • 60% of LGBTQ+ employees have faced homophobic and derogatory language at work. / Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, CIOB.
  • Women account for 9% of the construction workforce. / Building diversity and inclusion in the construction industry, WTW.
  • As of 2020, only 5% of registered builders in Australia are women. / GITNUX MarketData Report 2024.
  • Around 8% of the workforce in Canada’s construction sector is female. / GITNUX MarketData Report 2024.
  • In the United States, only about 1% of those in construction and extraction occupations are women. / GITNUX MarketData Report 2024.
  • Women occupy only 13.5% of board seats in the UK construction industry. / GITNUX MarketData Report 2024.
  • In the UK, only 4% of construction professionals are from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds. / Building’s diversity survey 2019.
  • 6% of construction professionals are Black, and 2% are Asian. / Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020
  • Nearly 40% of neurodiverse employees have not disclosed their status to employers, with a third citing stigma concerns and many feeling embarrassed. / NFB Report.
  • Only 2% of the construction workforce identify as members of the LGBTQI+ community. / Workforce Diversity in Construction Improves Productivity and Profits.

Challenges and Barriers to D&I in the Construction Sector

The challenges and barriers to diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the construction sector are complex and multidimensional, encompassing both environmental, social and economic aspects. One of the main challenges is sustainability, which requires the construction industry to not only consider economic goals, but also environmental protection and social equity. The construction industry accounts for about 40% of global energy consumption and greenhouse gas production, highlighting the need to promote sustainable practices throughout the industry’s life cycle.

Barriers to D&I and Sustainability

Barriers to D&I can include resistance to change and innovation, common among construction practitioners, and a lack of a holistic approach to research and sustainability practices, particularly in developing countries where economic growth remains a priority at the expense of the environment. The sector is heavily dependent on supply chains both as a supplier of infrastructure and as a consumer of raw materials and manufactured products, further complicating the management of its environmental impact.

Strategies for Sustainability in Construction

Achieving sustainability goals in project practice requires project managers to employ diverse strategies, such as green construction training, stakeholder information platforms, workshops, and increased government support and incentives. Despite the existence of a variety of approaches and tools to support sustainability in project management, there is still a need to better understand and overcome existing barriers, especially in the context of developing countries.

Integration and Collaboration to Break Barriers in Construction

In summary, the construction sector faces significant D&I challenges that require an integrated approach and collaboration among all stakeholders to promote sustainability and break down existing barriers.

How D&I Contributes to the Development of the Sector 

D&I benefits the construction sector by stimulating innovation, increasing efficiency and improving project quality. Diverse teams contribute to more creative solutions that are responsive to the needs of the community, increasing the efficiency of project implementation. Promoting D&I also improves the image of companies, attracting people and investment. Involving diverse groups in construction processes leads to a better understanding of community expectations, supporting sustainable development and the achievement of global sustainability goals.

Global Perspective on D&I in the Construction Sector

A Global Perspective on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the Construction Sector highlights the growing awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion around the world, but the pace of change and approaches vary by region. In developed countries, D&I initiatives are on the rise, with policies and programs aimed at increasing the participation of women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities in the industry. In developing countries, while progress is evident, challenges remain related to access to education and training, cultural and social barriers.

The Role of International Organizations and Corporations in Promoting D&I

International construction organizations and corporations play a key role in promoting D&I standards, supporting local initiatives and adapting best practices to the regional context. This global exchange of knowledge and experience contributes to a progressive increase in commitment to D&I at all levels of the construction sector, supporting its sustainable development.

Cultural and Regional Prejudice 

Cultural and regional biases are one of the main challenges to achieving Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) goals in the construction sector. These biases can manifest themselves in a variety of forms, from gender role stereotyping to racial and ethnic discrimination. For example, in some cultures, manual labor on construction sites is traditionally viewed as a male occupation, making it difficult for women to gain acceptance and advancement. Similarly, ethnic minority workers may face barriers to equal career opportunities due to stereotyping or outright discrimination.

Breaking Down D&I Barriers in the Construction Industry

Regional differences in perceptions of people with disabilities or sexual diversity also affect their presence and experiences in the industry. To break down these barriers, construction companies must actively work to change corporate culture, educate their employees about the value of diversity and inclusion, and implement policies that promote equal opportunity regardless of cultural or regional background.

Importance of D&I in the construction sector

The importance of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the construction sector goes far beyond the moral and ethical aspects, playing a key role in innovation, productivity and company competitiveness. A diversity of perspectives and experiences contributes to more creative and innovative construction solutions that can better address the diverse needs of communities. In addition, work environments that value diversity and inclusiveness often have higher levels of employee engagement and satisfaction, which directly translates into lower turnover and better financial performance.

Competitive Advantage through D&I in the Construction Industry

In an era of globalization and demographic change, the ability to attract and retain talent from diverse backgrounds is becoming a competitive advantage. Construction companies that actively work to implement D&I strategies not only build more equitable and inclusive workplaces, but also increase their resilience to changing market conditions and social expectations.


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