Although the state of women in the construction industry has greatly advanced and continues to do so, some women still feel their work environment is an uncomfortable place for them. Once they've succeeded in recruiting women to fill some available roles, many construction firms' next step is trying to create an environment that women actually want to work in – an inclusive environment. But, what does that really even mean? Maybe one day we’ll figure that out completely, but in the meantime, we’re having to make some compromises.
Wherever there’s a mixture of men and women, there’s going to be different interests and differing opinions. Instead of avoiding them and sticking to social norms, it’s important to try and break those up. For example, several women during the “Women in Construction: Hiring, Retaining, and Mentoring for Success” PowerTalk discussed how they weren’t invited to sporting events because of the assumption that they’re women and wouldn’t be interested.
That can definitely cause some hurt feelings and maybe even some resentment. Nobody likes to feel excluded – however, most male counterparts aren’t truly aware of what they’re doing, or how it makes us feel. So, in these situations, how should one respond – get angry and sit in the corner? Sometimes it’s more effective to be strong enough to stand up and voice the way that you feel. If we feel left out, there’s nothing wrong with standing up and saying “hey, I’m here!”
Kristy Wolfe, Professor at Bradley University knows what it’s like this. At a previous job, she had to sit in a weekly Monday morning meeting. For the first half of the meeting, her male counterparts would discuss football (which she has no interest in). Instead of getting upset, she figured out other ways that she could interact with them. She brought her own personality to the table and her co-workers respected that and connected with her.
Sometimes if you're being forgotten, you have got to have that confidence. Not be overbearing, but at the same time, you have to stand up and be recognized – because more times than not, the exclusion isn’t necessarily intentional.
It’s up to both men and women to create a healthy and happy work environment. Our differences and the contrasting ways that we communicate can actually be very beneficial in enhancing business decisions. Sometimes we have to embrace the differences and figure out how to capitalize on them.
Regardless of male or female, retaining good people is an initiative of all good businesses. Stay tuned to learn more about how to retain the women that you've recruited.