Construction Inclusion Week 2023 Q&A
Today marks the beginning of Construction Inclusion Week, an effort to drive awareness for inclusion and diversity throughout the entire construction industry. Knutson is proud to be a Support Sponsor of this celebration through CIW’s established 501(c)(6) organization, which provides content, curriculum, and planning tools for those in the industry to use throughout job sites and offices all week long.
As one part of the celebration this week, we asked Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Ana Lowery to sit down with us and answer some burning questions about CI Week and DE&I at Knutson.
Q: What is Construction Inclusion Week and why is it important?
A: Construction Inclusion Week is observed in October and is dedicated to recognizing the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in our industry. It aims to celebrate and promote awareness of numerous contributions made by individuals from all backgrounds within the industry. By fostering a culture of inclusivity, CI week encourages collaboration and empowers voices that have historically been under-represented.
It is important to support Construction Inclusion Week because diversity and inclusion are vital for the growth and success of all in the industry. By embracing a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and talents we can enhance creativity, innovation and problem solving within our teams. Inclusion enables us to create fair and equal opportunities for everyone, leading to stronger networks, better relationships, and increased productivity.
Q: What does DE&I mean to you?
A: Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just buzzwords; they hold immense significance in our society. To me, diversity means accepting and embracing the unique characteristics and experiences that make each individual different. It encourages us to appreciate and celebrate our differences.
Diversity enriches our lives by exposing us to a multitude of perspectives and ideas, fostering creativity, empathy and understanding.
Equity goes hand in hand with diversity, as it ensures fairness and just for all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds. It means recognizing and addressing the systemic barriers that may prevent certain groups from accessing opportunities and resources. Achieving equity requires not only acknowledging these disparities but ensuring that everyone has an equal chance to thrive.
Inclusion, for me, is the heart of diversity and equity. It means creating an environment where every person feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique talents and perspectives. An inclusive community promotes collaboration, encourages dialogue, and ensures that everyone’s voice is heard and considered.
By embracing diversity, striving for equity, and fostering inclusion we can create communities that value and respect the unique contributions of all individuals.
Q: Why is DE&I important to the construction industry, specifically?
A: As we know, DE&I are crucial in every industry; the construction industry is no exception. In fact, due to the nature of work, our industry greatly benefits from embracing DE&I principles. Diversity in our industry ensures a wider range of perspectives and experiences, leading to more innovative and creative solutions. When teams are composed of individuals from different walks of life they bring unique ideas and problem-solving approaches to the table. This diversity fosters creativity, improves decision making, and ultimately enhances the industry’s ability to adapt and thrive.
Secondly, ensuring equal opportunities for advancement and fair treatment for all employees is not only morally imperative but also boosts productivity and retention rates. When workers feel valued and supported, they are more likely to contribute their best work and remain loyal to our industry.
Q: How do we create a culture of inclusion and belonging?
A: Creating a culture of inclusion and belonging is essential for building a strong community here at Knutson and in our industry. It is vital to ensure all individuals feel included and valued.
First and foremost, promoting open dialogue is crucial. Encouraging people to share their unique perspectives and experiences can help build empathy and understanding. This is done here at Knutson through our diversity training sessions and regular meetings held by leadership that give us the opportunity to share and feel included
Another step towards fostering inclusion is providing equal opportunities for growth and development. Our industry should strive to offer training and support for all employees. Providing mentorship programs and resources can also help ensure each and every one person succeeds and excels in their career. I believe we offer those opportunities through KAP, Knutson’s internship program, and leadership that are readily available to assist you in your career growth.
Creating ERG networks can be impactful as well. These groups allow individuals to come together based on shared identities and interests providing a sense of belonging. The Women’s ERG group helps build strong relationships among employees and encourages collaboration and support.
Lastly, leadership plays a significant role in fostering inclusivity and belonging. Leaders must lead by example demonstrating respect and sensitivity to diversity and inclusion initiatives. Our leadership actively champions diversity and inclusion initiatives and ensures that polices and practices are fair and equitable.
Q: How does community engagement and volunteerism further DE&I efforts?
A: Both initiatives play a crucial role in advancing DEI. When our organization actively engages with our communities and volunteers their time and skills, they foster a greater sense of belonging and understanding within our society. By participating in community engagements, we expose ourselves to different perspectives, cultures, and experiences. This exposure helps break down barriers and allows people to see the world through others’ eyes.
When we volunteer, it also empowers marginalized communities by providing them with necessary tools and resources. When volunteers lend a helping hand to those in need, they contribute to reducing disparities and promoting equity.
Most importantly, it helps build connections and relationships within the communities that we serve. By collaborating on projects or serving together, people form bonds that transcend differences, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose.
Q: What do you see Knutson doing that sets the bar high for DE&I initiatives?
A: Our commitment to DE&I initiatives sets the bar high because we understand that true success can only be achieved when everyone feels valued, included, and empowered. Through our dedicated efforts in leadership, community engagement and collaboration we are trailblazers in creating an organization where diversity thrives, equity prevails, and inclusion is the norm.
To learn more about Construction Inclusion Week, including its history and a list of current event sponsors, visit their website.