On-Site Magazine

The benefits of diversity and inclusion are real

By Richard Lyall   

Construction Labour Leadership

Strategies that build positive culture on construction sites are good for your people, the industry, and your bottom line.

Richard Lyall

A more positive workplace culture on construction sites, one that truly embraces a diverse and inclusive workforce, is the right thing to do, but it can also have a beneficial financial impact.

Research has shown that companies with people from varied walks of life with different experiences bring new insights, which lead to more innovation and creativity. Companies with higher levels of ethnic and cultural diversity are more likely to see above-average profits.

At the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), we are walking the talk. We recently released a best practice guide with strategies to help build a more positive culture on construction sites, improve satisfaction of employees and boost productivity. The document highlights how builders, employees and others in the construction industry can implement best practices related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The guide is aimed at helping stakeholders understand how a more positive workplace culture can impact a business, both good and bad, minimize health and safety grievances, enhance a firm’s ability to recruit, train and retain talent, and proactively eliminate risk in a business.

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To have a positive workplace culture, it is critical for employers and workers to follow established best practices. While such a culture is crucial for the mental health and overall safety of employees on a construction worksite, it is also a legal obligation that employers are required to fulfill.

Where I am in the country, these obligations are covered under the Ontario Human Rights Code and Occupational Health and Safety Act. Under the act and code, employers are legally required to have a policy that addresses workplace violence and harassment, and to conduct an annual review of the document. In instances of workplace harassment at sites, work-related events, or within the workplace, employers, supervisors and workers can all be held accountable.

This highlights the significance of having a plan in place to create and sustain a more positive workplace culture that is free from discriminatory practices and fosters well-being and belonging.

Our guide helps stakeholders understand why it is critical to have a corporate environment where teamwork, safety and efficiency are paramount, and how it can benefit them.

The nine-page document outlines the strategic advantages of promoting a positive workplace culture and provides tactics on how to lay the foundations for change by cultivating conflict resolution skills, addressing contentious topics, creating buy-in and facilitating open communication spaces. It also offers tips for toolbox talks and what to do before, during and after a talk.

Investing in workplace culture within a supportive and inclusive environment boosts employee morale and productivity and overall job satisfaction, which leads to better results for companies since employees who are engaged tend to be more productive and motivated, which helps drive business growth and success.

RESCON has been a leader in the construction community when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, the fight against racism and discrimination, and promoting a positive workplace culture. Even within our organization, staff has completed online BuildForce Canada courses aimed at helping individuals and industry leaders and managers understand systemic racism and embrace practices that create a more inclusive workplace.

We spearheaded the formation of a Construction Against Racism Everywhere campaign that was launched in 2020, and we provide resources to help builders promote best workplace practices. In 2021, we joined other contractor groups, unions and employers in signing a Declaration of Inclusive Workplaces and Communities in the City of Toronto.

The newly released best practice guide builds on earlier work done by RESCON, and on the work of other industry groups and organizations, to positively influence a culture shift within construction.

Today, the majority of employees and jobseekers are paying more attention to the culture of a workplace. It is often an important factor when people seeking jobs are evaluating a company.

With Ontario’s construction industry in need of 140,000 more workers in the next decade, it only makes sense to make a positive workplace culture the norm, rather than the exception.

 

Richard Lyall is president of RESCON and has been representing the building industry in Ontario since 1991.

 

Speaker videos from On-Site’s virtual summit on diversity, equity and inclusion, Pursuing DEI, are now available for viewing. Click the image to access each of the session videos.

Speaker videos from On-Site’s virtual summit on diversity, equity and inclusion, Pursuing DEI, are now available for viewing. Click the image to access each of the session videos.

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