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New Survey Recommends Steps to Improve DEI in Design and Construction Industry


Diverse group of architects, construction people

Dodge Construction Network and the U.S. General Services Administration released the findings of a new industry survey that shows more work is needed among architecture firms and construction companies to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion SmartMarket report details the organizational and business benefits of DEI, focusing on practices involving hiring, training, promotion, leadership priorities and policies. With companies grouped into three categories: high, moderate and low engagement, the findings were that 23 percent of architects and 15 percent of contractors were in the "high engagement" category, while nearly half of architects, 46 percent, and contractors, 49 percent, were in the "low to no engagement" category.

The top three ways architects and contractors are engaging in DEI activities include: Offering trainings promoting a more diverse, inclusive and positive workplace culture; considering diversity and inclusion when selecting other members of the project team; and, having a code of ethics that include a diversity and inclusion focus. Training is the only activity that is utilized by more than half of the respondents.

"We believe these findings suggest that engaging in DEI offers the opportunity to address some of the biggest challenges these companies face today," says Steve Jones, senior director of industry insights at Dodge Construction Network. "The list of practices benchmarked in the report then provide a road map to the industry about how they can consider increasing their engagement."

Project Impact on Communities Examined

In addition to examining their company practices and policies, the study also reveals the extent to which architects and contractors actively seek to improve how their projects impact the communities in which they are located.

While almost half, 49 percent, of architects report their firm considers community impact and well-being on more than 50 percent of their projects during design, only 22 percent seek community input beyond mandated requirements on the same share of their projects.

Similarly, nearly half, 42 percent, of contractors prioritize hiring workers from the communities surrounding their projects but only 15 percent seek community input beyond mandates on 50 percent or more of their projects.