Things I Learned from the Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference

January 16, 2017

Celebration Community Cheerful Happiness Success Concept

This was a post from several years ago and is so much more relevant now:

Yesterday I was on a panel discussion at the ENR Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference in New York.  It was a great experience for me.  A couple of things that really stuck out:

1.  This was the first time EVER that I was in the minority.  And I mean THE MINORITY!  There were probably five men there out of 300 attendees.  It was a very different feeling.  I never felt out-of-place really, but I did feel outnumbered.  It was a little intimidating.  I finally felt what it must be like for women and minorities at a normal construction conference filled with mostly middle-aged, white men.

2.  I experienced bathroom discrimination for the first time.  I say that with tongue planted firmly in my cheek.  How many times do we men sail in and out of the bathroom at intermission or the seventh inning stretch while the line at the women’s bathroom snakes around the corner for miles?  There were so many women and so few men that they actually put a sign over the men’s restroom that said “WOMEN ONLY”.  I had to go down two floors to use the bathroom.  What a shift in perspective.  Women probably get really frustrated by those long lines and think to themselves, “When are the mostly male architects going to wake up and put in twice as many stalls in the women’s bathrooms?”

3.  Women interact differently than men, at least in construction and engineering.  Men will gather and greet with a cool and somewhat forced confidence.  The interactions are low-key and low energy and the topic of conversation is mostly about business.  When a large group of women interact, the energy is amazing!  It is palpable.  The room is buzzing!  They are animated and talking and exchanging business cards and discussing lots of different things, including non-business topics.

4.  Women have some of the same issues as men.  There are some difference such as childcare that are quite different for men and women, but what I took away was that the skills for a woman to be successful in the construction industry are exactly the same skills that men need.  It’s just in a different context and should be taught in a slightly different way to address their specific needs.  Leadership, presence, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence skills are at least a part of those success factors.  Individuals will likely just be working on different areas.

I look forward to more of these kinds of conferences and hope that other industry organizations will reach out and invite this group to the table.  They deserve a seat at that table.

Check out my ENR Viewpoint article on diversity:

CLICK HERE

Also, I am in the process of finishing up my latest online course on diversity and inclusion as part of the Total Leadership Library. Click here for more information on that.

 


What Do the Top 400 Contractors Know that You Don’t Know?

July 2, 2015

Business Man and giant Pointing Hand

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Henry Ford

 

I just reviewed the latest Top 400 Contractors in Engineering News Record and found out that I have worked with 11 of the top 50 contractors.  I’m pretty proud of that fact.  I’ve worked with some amazing companies.  I think these successful contractors have figured out something that other contractors have not figured out.  It boils down to a three main things:

1.  They Embrace Technology: These companies have seen the future and try to remain on the cutting edge of technology.  There are amazing things afoot and if you are just now starting to think about technology and your business, you are WAY behind.

2.  Know that Collaboration is the Key to the Future:  Even construction owners are beginning to realize that collaboration is really the way to go.  They are starting to drive these processes.  Design/Build, Design Assist, Lean, IPD, ILPD are all project delivery models that are here to stay.  We are figuring out how to execute them in the best possible way, but in time, these delivery methods will be the norm.  It will just be how we do business.  There will still be room for Design/Bid/Build models, but they will be fewer and fewer as time goes by.  Collaboration is the future for the industry.

3.  Focus on People:  These companies know to do their best to provide to their people everything they need to be successful.  They give their people the resources to improve themselves and their lives, to cultivate mastery in all areas of their lives that are important to them both professionally and personally.  These companies know that they must exhibit a true sense of caring toward their employees, to embrace them as human beings and to provide for them and nurture them as best they can.  They know that diversity and inclusion are vital to the future of the industry.  By including everyone in this future, they are ensuring that this industry can be sustained.  They also know that diversity makes for a stronger company with better ideas and more innovative ways of doing business.

For those of you who are interested in thriving, take a look at these three things.  The train is leaving the station.  Will you be on it?  Let me know what you think!

 

 


Shatter Stereotypes, Create More Diversity, Save the World

June 25, 2015

Featured image

“Along with the evidence of common sense, researchers have proven scientifically that humans are all one people. The color of our ancestors’ skin and ultimately my skin and your skin is a consequence of ultraviolet light, of latitude and climate. Despite our recent sad conflicts here in the US, there really is no such thing as race. We are one species—each of us much, much more alike than different. We all came from Africa. We all are of the same stardust. We are all going to live and die on the same planet, a pale blue dot in the vastness of space. We have to work together.” Bill Nye, the Science Guy

I was walking down the street the other day and saw something I had never seen before.  It was an Asian couple with two very white, Caucasian daughters.  Stereotype turned on its head.  Paradigm shifted.  It made me think about my own prejudices and biases (conscious and unconscious) based on lots of things:  how I was raised (in the Southern USA), the media (and how they portray women and minorities), my education, my spiritual path, and the industry I grew up in (construction). I’m sure all of those things shape my world view.  So what can we all do to address these inherent biases?

LOSE THE RACE!

Did you know that the concept of race is totally arbitrary?  The original concept of race:  Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid was a social classification based on physical characteristics, not biological ones.  They could have just as easily chosen foot size, eye color, or cranium diameter.  And these physical classifications of race were ultimately used to stereotype groups of people in order to control and manipulate them.

When scientists mapped the human genome, they found that we are 99.9% alike in our DNA.  One tenth of one percent of our DNA accounts for ALL of our differences.  Wow!  That’s a pretty small percentage.  We are far more alike than we are different.  Remember that in all your encounters with other human beings.

CULTIVATE LOVE AND COMPASSION!

Let’s cultivate love and compassion for all: all religions, all philosophies, all victims, all perpetrators, all human beings. It’s the only thing that will ultimately stop the madness.

The harrowing tragedies of late in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston make us all think about these issues of race.  The media mostly portrays the conflict in terms of race, which fuels that fire of difference and further separates us.

When John Stewart interviewed Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner.  The Taliban shot her in the head for speaking out for women’s rights and education. John Stewart asked her how she reacted when she learned that the Taliban wanted her dead. Here is her response:

“I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’ But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’ Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that ‘I even want education for your children as well.’ And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.”

What if we all cultivated that attitude?

WHOA-MAN!

The male/female divide is also interesting.  Did you know that we all start out as women? The sex hormones that are released well into development are what causes us to be men instead of women.  So we are already developing as women prior to this influx of male hormones. So the presence of males on the planet may just be a genetic aberration (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

There are male/female differences.  Our brains are different.  We are wired differently. The corpus callosum, the bridge that connects the right and left sides of the brain is thicker in female fetuses than in male fetuses. Young girls are better with language and fine motor skills. Young boys are better with spatial skills.  Women are faster and more accurate at identifying and controlling strong emotions such as anger and aggression.  These are all brain hard wiring facts.

So what does this all mean?  I’m not naive enough to think that we can all love each other and just get along.  Maybe that’s the real key.  To show true compassion and understand these two fundamental things:  that we are completely different and that we are 99.9% alike.  If we could hold those two concepts in our heads and know that most of us want simple things such as to love and be loved and to have a nice life (safe and free) with family and friends, we could make some changes in this world.  And make no mistake.  It starts with every single individual.  Sow love, not hate.


Things I Learned at the Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference

May 7, 2015

Celebration Community Cheerful Happiness Success Concept

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” ― Stephen R. Covey

 

Yesterday I was on a panel discussion at the ENR Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference in New York.  It was a great experience for me.  A couple of things that really stuck out:

1.  This was the first time EVER that I was in the minority.  And I mean THE MINORITY!  There were probably five men there out of 300 attendees.  It was a very different feeling.  I never felt out-of-place really, but I did feel outnumbered.  It was a little intimidating.  I finally felt what it must be like for women and minorities at a normal construction conference filled with mostly middle-aged, white men.

2.  I experienced bathroom discrimination for the first time.  I say that with tongue planted firmly in my cheek.  How many times do we men sail in and out of the bathroom at intermission or the seventh inning stress while the line at the women’s bathroom snakes around the corner for miles?  There were so many women and so few men that they actually put a sign over the men’s restroom that said “WOMEN ONLY”.  I had to go down two floors to use the bathroom.  What a shift in perspective.  Women probably get really frustrated by those long lines and think to themselves, “When are the mostly male architects going to wake up and put in twice as many stalls in the women’s bathrooms?”

3.  Women interact differently than men, at least in construction and engineering.  Men will gather and greet with a cool confidence.  The interactions are low-key and low energy and the topic of conversation is mostly about business.  When a large group of women interact, the energy is amazing!  It is palpable.  The room is buzzing!  They are animated and talking and exchanging business cards and discussing lots of different things, including non-business topics.

4.  Women have some of the same issues as men.  There are some difference such as childcare that are quite different for men and women, but what I took away was that the skills for a woman to be successful in the construction industry are exactly the same skills that men need.  It’s just in a different context and should be taught in a slightly different way to address their specific needs.  Leadership, presence, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence skills are at least a part of those success factors.  Individuals will likely just be working on different areas.

I look forward to more of these kinds of conferences and hope that other industry organizations will reach out and invite this group to the table.  They deserve a seat at that table.

Check out my ENR Viewpoint article on diversity:

CLICK HERE