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Creating Real Paths to Success for Women in Construction

Creating Real Paths to Success for Women in Construction

2024-03-08

It’s probably not a secret that the construction industry has not always been the most welcoming place for women to be employed. Even today, women make up only 10% of the construction workforce. But with an estimated 45,000 new workers needed in the construction industry by 2027 just in Colorado, changing that landscape is not only the right thing to do, it’s imperative to our success. 

 

While change is not easy or straightforward, Pinkard has worked to identify areas of action to encourage women to join and have long, productive careers in the construction industry. These include working at the K-12 level to advocate for careers in construction, actively recruiting women into the industry, providing specific support, and mentoring once they are brought on board.   

 

Early Education 

 

Pinkard has invested in recruiting and outreach at the K-12 level. “We are talking with schools and attending career fairs to let kids know that there are great jobs available in the construction industry,” said HR specialist, Tanya Navarro. “There are multiple paths to success. College is a great option, and so are the trades. In the trades, students can learn on the job while they’re making a living and not have to go into debt to learn skills that lead to a job that pays well.”  

 

Assistant project manager Krystyl Alexander agrees that positive career influences on young women can greatly boost the prospects of increasing the construction labor pool and giving women golden opportunities to flourish in a wide-open career market. “Construction seems to offer more job security and better pay than many conventional women-centric careers. My number one priority was “can I get a job after graduation? A lot of my friends in other majors have struggled to find work and are in the realm of ‘educated but unemployed.’”  

 

 

Actively Recruiting Women 

 

Pinkard strategically targets events and organizations that cater to women in the industry. “Although we strive for a diverse workforce that represents both our community’s demographic and our clients’, we always hire the strongest talent for the job.  We intentionally remain agnostic to the demographic of the candidate when making a hiring decision.  With greater applicant flow from women, we are, however, finding more often the best person for the job is a woman.  Not because she is a woman, but because of the technical skills, soft skills, experience and potential that she has earned,” says Navarro. 

 

Pinkard has also worked to train hiring managers to recognize bias and eliminated automated differentiation of resumes to include more people who have taken non-traditional career paths.  

 

“Not everyone comes to construction in the same way, but talent is talent and we want to hire that talent regardless of how those skills were acquired,” says construction manager Joe Revielle. “We have people who switched careers midstream and people who worked their way up through the trades as well as people who came to us straight out of construction management programs. They all have the ability to do great work and bring huge value to our clients.”  

 

Pinkard intern Kristy Swisher is a great example of someone with a non-traditional path into the industry. After starting a family and running her own business outside of the construction industry, COVID-19 threatened her livelihood. Considering a career change, Kristy took advantage of some available college grant money and enrolled in MSU Denver’s construction management program. She is currently in her first construction internship and has just over a year to go before graduation. 

 

Kristy is working on Pinkard’s South Metro Fire Rescue project and loves her project teammates. “When I first walked into the job trailer, I thought ‘Oh wow! Fish out of water! I’m the only woman here.’ But I quickly realized that no one was treating me that way. That ‘elephant in the room’ was strictly in my head.’ Once I got over that initial insecurity it has been great!” 

 

Support and Mentorship for Women  

Pinkard has also prioritized the support and mentorship for women coming into the industry. “We recognized a need for a group to specifically target some of the shortcomings in our industry. So we took AGC’s lead and created an internal Culture of CARE committee at Pinkard. One of the pillars of that group is to ensure that our teammates have support and mentorship as they move forward with us,” says Pinkard president Tony Burke.  

 

Alexander believes that Pinkard’s emphasis on understanding personalities is a great foundation for women seeking success in construction. “The ability to understand the personalities of the entire team helps us to understand people of different backgrounds with different insights, experience, and diversity, and that makes you stronger as a team and encourages the success of the individual.”  

 

The Future Looks Bright 

 

“Hiring and training new talent from all walks of life is pivotally important to our industry. In addition to providing us with the quantity of talent we need, attracting people from across the  spectrum provides important new perspectives, ideas, and ways of doing things. The diversity makes us better,” says Burke. 

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