Create a Culture of CARE – Part 1

How to Create a Culture of CARE – Part 1

Commit to Employee Well-being: The Foundation of a Culture of CARE

January 1, 2024

When it comes to human capital, the industry cannot ignore the importance of caring for others. According to FMI’s 2023 Talent Study, over the next five years turnover rates are expected to be 28% among field managers and 22% among executives.

Prioritizing the well-being and development of employees is essential for long-term success in any industry. In the built environment it is mission critical. Fortunately, in 2019 the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) established Culture of CARE to provide the industry with answers on how to build a better culture committed to employee well-being to attract and retain current and future talent.

The Culture of CARE initiative includes a toolkit to guide companies on how to go beyond a check-the-box experience for making the commitment to CARE. The toolkit includes sample workplace policies, toolbox talks, an organizational assessment and many small informational resources (e.g. posters) to drive awareness and educate, especially on job sites. Some companies noted how this invites interest from other trades on a job site and from clients.

As FMI interviewed leaders across the industry who have taken the Culture of CARE pledge, we found one common thread. Time and time again, leaders interviewed shared how AGC’s pledge and toolkit formalized what they were already doing and supported them to further their commitment and activate this throughout their organization. Jorge Quezada, Vice President of People and Culture at Granite Construction, shared, “The Diversity & Inclusion Assessment validated our practices around human capital, talent management and inclusive diversity. The Assessment helped us implement a structured review of our employee data that we can compare across the construction industry that is specifically for our industry.”

Best Practices and Tips to Commit to Culture of CARE: 

Only 3% of AGC members have taken the pledge, and your help is needed to meet our goal of increasing that to 5% by the end of 2024. But this commitment is one of action – not just words.

Perhaps your leaders haven’t formalized taking the pledge since words like culture, belonging or inclusion are clearly communicated in your organization’s purpose or values statements. However, without a formal strategic vision or implementation plan to track progress and growth over time, the culture of today may not be protected for tomorrow.

Or perhaps you’ve taken the pledge and want to learn what has worked for other companies before you start spreading the message throughout your organization. Wherever you are on the journey to building a better culture of belonging and inclusion, below outlines four best practices to commit to a Culture of CARE:

  1. 1. Start at the Top 

The executive leadership must believe in Culture of CARE as a complement to the company’s core values. Leaders must have a compelling and personal reason for implementing it. Three years prior to taking the Culture of CARE pledge, Sam Clark, President of Clark Construction, had an eye-opening experience while attending the White Men’s Caucus (now called White Men as Allies Learning Lab), a three-day training program hosted by White Men as Full Diversity Partners. Clark returned with an awareness about his dominant culture and opportunities to build a better one of belonging and inclusion. He realized he couldn’t do this alone and became determined to get the rest of his executive team to personally experience their own awakenings.

Culture of CARE rolled out at just the right time to aid the company’s leaders with the terminology and approach for communicating the “why CARE” message more broadly across the organization. “People want to do more, be leaders, develop teams, but you can’t do that unless you really care about the individuals on your team,” Clark says. “And you can’t really care if you don’t seek to understand and know them.” Annually, Clark continues to send Caucasian male leaders to the White Men as Allies Learning Lab to start at the top with the message and commitment to CARE beyond one’s own experiences and perspectives.

  1. 2. Create a Dedicated Team 

While it starts at the top, the vision should be shared with a dedicated team or committee to ensure a strategic plan with goals and metrics are identified and tracked. FMI recommends this team or committee consist of both office and field leaders under the guidance of a senior leader. To be more inclusive, team members should be rotated every two years. While nearly all 10 of the companies interviewed had dedicated committees, managing field participation was a common challenge. One of the keys to establishing buy-in is to make the committee feel authentic to your company culture. For example, Clark Construction opted to form a JEDI team – Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, terminology that resonated with their employees.

  1. 3. Ignite and Invite 

Share the strategic vision for diversity and inclusion in a compelling way that ignites others to participate and formally invite all employees to take the Culture of CARE pledge. Rosendin Electric did this in a creative way by creating a T-shirt with space for all employees to sign and show their commitments. Rosendin prints new shirts whenever new people are hired and take the pledge. This helps with reinforcing awareness and education in a quick and efficient manner, something that is an often-cited concern for those trying to communicate the pledge.

  1. 4. Partner with Leadership or Diversity Consultants 

External consultants can be helpful to companies in navigating the right path forward for their team. This is especially helpful to companies where there is no formal human resources or in-house diversity position or role.

However, even companies with dedicated teams find external support helpful to providing training, facilitating safe place listening sessions and offering a fresh perspective and insights. Rosendin Electric is partnering with a diversity consultant and leadership coach to facilitate leadership workshops and coaching specifically for topics of inclusion.  “Our consultant really helped open up the discussion,” says Stephanie Roldan, Vice President of Learning and Development at Rosendin Electric. “He does a four-class series that goes over everything from your individual lens to your personality colors. By the end we learn we’re actually more alike than we are different.”

Ready to Commit?

Why Culture of CARE?

Despite hundreds of other companies like Bulley and Andrews Construction, Clark Construction, Granite Construction and Rosendin Electric committing to a Culture of CARE, it has been four years since AGC’s launch of buildculture.org, and less than 3% of the more than 20,000 AGC members have taken the Culture of CARE pledge. For this reason, AGC has partnered with FMI to support members who have yet to take the pledge. In this four-part series you will hear from leaders in the C-suite, field and human resources who are forging the way to increase the build a pipeline for diverse talent, increase the number of women in the field and create workplaces of belonging for all employees.

In the fall of 2018 AGC drafted an industry report on the “The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion in the Construction Industry.” This case noted four reasons construction companies should focus on creating a more inclusive workplace. A better culture can: mitigate employee turnover, increase productivity and profitability, drive innovation and drive a positive safety culture.  At the time, the immediate outcome of this study was to partner with the AGC of Washington chapter, (which had already developed Culture of CARE and launched locally in Washington state), to create a national Culture of CARE program to help members put action behind their words.

The Culture of CARE pledge is as follows:

  • COMMIT – to hire and pay based on skill and experience regardless of ability, age, ethnicity, gender identity, nationality, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.
  • ATTRACT – prospective employees by creating inclusive workplaces that are free from harassment, hazing and bullying.
  • RETAIN – high-performing employees by identifying and removing barriers to advancement.
  • EMPOWER – every employee to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Culture of CARE became an important resource for construction companies looking to enact changes during the summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd.

About the Author:

Michelle Thompson, MBA, is a Leadership and Organizational Development consultant at FMI serving as a consultant and facilitator to empower and equip the next generation of construction leaders. Michelle is also a certified administrator with Intercultural Development Inventory® offering a way for companies to measure both team and individual intercultural competence, the bridge for diversity and inclusion. To learn more email michelle.thompson@fmicorp.com.

 

Return to News Page | Go to Part 2 ( Available March 1, 2024)