ABC highlighted its achievements in recruiting diverse audiences to careers in construction nationwide and outlined goals championing inclusion, diversity and equity in a letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for a May 17 hearing on race, sex and national origin discrimination in construction.
The EEOC hearing comes amid historic levels of funding for federal infrastructure through passage of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021. ABC estimates that the construction industry needs to hire an additional 650,000 workers in 2022 alone.
The EEOC heard historical, statistical and experiential evidence of race- and sex-based harassment and discrimination that has limited opportunities for Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American and women workers in construction, while exploring promising practices to prevent and address systemic discrimination.
ABC highlighted its main avenues of diversity outreach, which it launched more than two decades ago: the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee, which was established in 1999 as a key component of ABC’s value proposition to develop people, win work and deliver work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which they work; its annual IDE Summit; its Diversity Resource Groups; and the National IDE Excellence Awards. The latter three provide education and support and recognize success in achieving a diverse construction workforce.
In its letter to the EEOC, ABC outlined its achievements in increasing IDE:
- ABC established a $100,000 matching grant fund to assist chapters in their efforts to develop long-lasting chapter inclusion, diversity and equity programs that support the strategic initiatives of both the chapter and ABC National.
- Construction Inclusion Week harnesses the collective power of the construction industry to build awareness regarding the need to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry.
- In January 2022, ABC joined the Surety & Fidelity Association of America and the National Association of Surety Bond Producers in launching the Contractor Bonding Education & Mentoring Program, which supports the development of new and emerging minority and disadvantaged contractors.
- ABC chapters have many programs to attract women and minority job-seekers to careers in construction, such as ABC Illinois’ Community Builders, ABC Greater Baltimore’s Project JumpStart, ABC Alabama’s PowerUp: It’s a Mother-Daughter Thingpartnership and ABC Keystone’s All ‘Bout Construction (ABC) Girls Camp.
- ABC promotes veteran-, women- and minority-owned companies via its Top Performers lists and FindContractors.com, where members can find and do business with ABC member companies holding special designations.
ABC also submitted statistical evidence that diversity is expanding at member companies: Women in management/supervisory roles increased to 19% in 2021 from 17% in 2020, and women in craft/trade roles increased from 14% to 15% year over year, according to the 2022 ABC Workforce Development Survey. The survey also revealed that more than half of respondents employ reentering citizens; and Hispanics and Latinos made up over 20% of trade course attendees last year.
Citing the survey, ABC explained how its members are working hard to recruit, educate and upskill the nation’s future construction workforce through its network of more than 800 apprenticeship, craft, safety and management education programs—including more than 300 government-registered apprenticeship programs—across 20 different occupations. ABC contractor members invested $1.6 billion on workforce education in 2021, providing craft, leadership and safety education to more than 1.3 million course attendees to advance their careers in commercial and industrial construction.
To increase the pool of available workforce, ABC continues to identify, create and develop entry points into the industry. ABC chapters have 291 entry-point programs in place around the country that welcome individuals from all walks of life to begin a career in construction: reentering citizens; students in K-12 schools, community colleges and universities; active military and veterans; second-career seekers, faith-based organizations; charities; workforce boards; and more.
More information on the May 17 hearing is available on EEOC.gov.