Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, EDI, Racism, Construction, COVID-19, Leadership, Interview, Q/A
The Associated General Contractors of America recently launched Culture of CARE, a program designed to boost inclusiveness and diversity in the construction industry by helping firms create more welcoming workplace environments to boost innovation, safety and profitability. ENRâ€™s Managing Editor Scott Blair sat down (virtually) with Brynn Huneke, AGC director of diversity & inclusion and member engagement, and Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs & strategic initiatives, to talk about what the program means for companies that sign the pledge to participate, and how the program addresses current events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests to overcome racial injustices.
ENR: Can you please talk about the recent launch of Culture of CARE, which unfortunately coincided with a global pandemic?
Brynn Huneke: As you can imagine, our startup in early March right before COVID-19 really affected our launch and our strategy. We did officially launch in conjunction with our convention back in early March, and released it to our convention attendees who were in Las Vegas with us. Recognizing that our members were trying to make sure that they were working safe and that employees were safe on the job site with respect to COVID-19, we held off on a broader kind of national launch of Culture of CARE until the end of April. Since then, we've had a great response. We've had over a hundred companies take the Culture of CARE pledge.
What are the expectations for companies that sign the pledge?
BH: The Culture of CARE pledge has four pillars that we're asking companies to commit to. CARE is an acronym that stands for commit, attract, retain, and empower. We're asking companies to commit to hire based on skill and experience, regardless of ethnicity, gender, race, nationality, religion or sexual orientation. The aim is to attract prospective employees by creating workplaces and cultures that are free from harassment, hazing and bullying; to retain high-performing employees by identifying and removing barriers to advancement; and then empower every employee to promote a culture of diversity and inclusionâ€”or a culture of careâ€”within their companies.
What resources do you provide to help companies follow through on their pledge?
BH: The tools and resource that are part of the website are designed to help them establish that culture of care and start to promote it within their companies. Weâ€™ve developed toolbox talks to help them talk to their employees and their subcontractors about what a culture of care means, what the expectations are. We have also drafted human resource policies and best practices, providing them resources and abilities to review and update their policies.
What are you planning for the future?
BH: Itâ€™s not meant to be a stagnant campaign. We're working on identifying training as part of the campaign, including for diversity and inclusion, implicit bias and bystander intervention so employees know how to respond if an incident happens on their job site. And we are also working on developing an assessment tool that goes more in depth into diversity and inclusion company policies. The assessment will identify areas within a company where they're lacking in diversity and inclusion and provide recommendations and best practices on how to grow in those areas.