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PCL outlines strategies to grow female representation in construction

by Sion Geschwindt
PCL outlines strategies to grow female representation in construction

PCL Construction has unveiled a set of strategies to grow female representation in construction, as part of its celebration of Women in Construction Week, March 6-12.

Across the US, women are leading multi-million-dollar construction job sites, successfully bidding for high-profile projects, and overseeing operations for entire regions of the country, the company said in a press release yesterday.

“Construction needs a diverse group of thinkers to solve the everyday challenges that come up on a job site, which is why it’s important for companies to be proactive in recruiting a diverse workforce,” added Cathy Orquiola, regional vice president and member of the PCL Board of Directors.

STEM Mentorship is Key

According to Orquiola, the disparity in women joining the field starts at the collegiate level.

She said: “If you look at the breakdown of who is graduating with a construction management degree, men still significantly outnumber women.

“I think many women are interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields but may never been presented with construction as a career option.

“Outreach is critical. We need people of all backgrounds, abilities and genders in the industry, and it starts by encouraging our youth to explore the construction field.”

The Denver office of PCL Construction, which also serves as its US Headquarters, is an active supporter of STEMblazers, an organisation that works with young women students.

PCL representatives are currently working on coordinating job site visits in the fall that would expose middle school and high school women to careers in construction.

“I wish I had known that the construction industry was an option during my first degree,” said Vanna Hosanny, a project engineer with PCL’s Denver office.

“Representation and mentorship are key to helping young women envision themselves as construction leaders.”

Empowered to Lead

Orquiola is a mentor for young women entering the construction industry and has helped many other women rise into prominent positions. She also has advised industry leaders – men and women alike – on policy changes and strategies that create more inclusive companies.

One of the policies she has closely examined is how to end the gender pay gap while working closely with Michael Headrick, vice president and district manager for PCL’s California Buildings office.

Headrick said: “Having the right title isn’t just about recognition in your role, it can also have a huge impact on a woman’s mobility and earnings potential over the course of her career.

“In addition to evaluating pay, we frequently look at our positions to ensure a worker’s title accurately reflects their level of responsibility and contributions to the team.”

PCL Construction recognises that achieving equity begins with listening. Each PCL office has a DE&I committee which serves as a platform for women and all employees to voice their opinions and recommendations for company policies that create a more inclusive environment.

Deron Brown, president and chief operating officer for PCL Construction’s U.S. operations, says that inclusion doesn’t happen without an organisation’s proactive efforts.

“Companies need to serve as champions for diversity – that means listening to employees about how we can support them in their unique circumstances and learning how we can set each individual up for success in their role.”

He continues, “the women at PCL Construction set the gold standard for the industry. Their vision and talents add to our strength as an organisation and are a core part of our continued role as a leader in the AEC industry.”

Image credit: CNW Group/PCL Construction

Read next: Transforming Construction: Building a sector fit for the future

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