Against the backdrop of the spring 2023 Professional Development Advisory Board meeting, Colorado State University’s Department of Construction Management engaged faculty, staff, and industry board members to explore how to better recruit and retain a diverse workforce through a diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice workshop conducted by the Maxx Impact Group.
The workshop was informed by findings from a series of focus group sessions that the department and its DEIJ committee conducted with the students in the 2021-2022 academic year. The significance of the workshop was echoed by Professor and Department Head Paul Goodrum: “The construction industry has experienced decades of workforce shortages,” said Goodrum. “I was thrilled that industry leaders in PADB partnered with the department for discussions to not only understand how to recruit, but also how to retain the next generation in the industry.”
The purpose of the workshop was to provide attendees the ways and means to develop competencies to better recruit and retain a diverse workforce. During this workshop, the participants engaged in three sessions:
- a panel discussion with construction industry leaders who are true advocates of DEIJ in their organizations and in the construction industry
- break-out sessions focusing on the internal and external factors impacting the DEIJ issues at the workplace today
- a wrap-up session
During the panel segment, presenters highlighted that understanding both the current and future workforce is important for developing effective retention and growth. In the breakout session on internal factors, discussion focused on how company leaders should address inclusion organizationally, as well as within their workforce.
Issues and outcomes
At the breakout session on external factors, participants reflected how companies represent their inclusivity, both directly and indirectly, to potential employees and customers. The workshop facilitator wrapped up the conversation by revealing the experiment in which the attendees had unwittingly been participating. It entailed revealing one group of attendees being unaware of receiving special benefits throughout the session.
A discussion ensued breaking this down by highlighting its impact on the participants to make a bigger point about microaggressions and their impact on employees. After the workshop, the attendees were sent homework, which included a few questions they were invited to ponder in preparation for the discussion that will take place at the next PADB meeting, to be held during the fall semester.
While this was a short workshop and the first one put together by the CM DEIJ committee, attendees shared that they now have a clearer understanding of how to better empower their employees, as well as how to move from being DEIJ allies to advocates.
“In this workshop, we barely started a discussion on DEIJ-related issues in the construction industry,” said CM DEIJ Committee Chair, Mehmet E. Ozbek, Ph.D. “We certainly hope to continue our conversations and journey with our industry partners on this important topic in future PADB meetings.”
The Department of Construction Management is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.