“I’ve been at companies that have a no-questions-asked stop-work policy,” Brugman explains. “Anyone has the power to stop work at any time if they feel conditions are unsafe.” She says these policies underpin culture because they demonstrate how serious the company is about safety. Of course, safety extends beyond on-the-job injuries to how employees treat each other and how leaders and managers behave. Women working in all industries can be subject to sexual harassment, but those in construction are more likely to have a negative experience. A 2017 survey sponsored by Opportunity Now found that 59% of women aged 28-40 working in construction had experienced sexual harassment. By comparison research by LeanIn conducted in 2018 found that 35% of women working corporate jobs had this experience. “Culture isn’t just the components like recognition, training and so on, it’s also about what is acceptable and tolerated on the job,” Brugman says. “And companies that tolerate or turn a blind eye to harassing behavior of any kind aren’t going to be the kinds of places that attract and retain talent in the long run.” Culture is certainly a big part of attracting and retaining employees within individual companies. But the construction industry is composed of thousands and thousands of individual companies. If the larger goal is to attract new people to careers in construction, there can’t be just a few shining examples of great company culture. For that, strong, inclusive, and positive company cultures need to become the norm.
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