How diversity enhances workplace culture

More than 50 representatives from the construction industry gathered for an informative and educational panel discussion in Pewaukee on Thursday, Oct. 20. The panel discussion, with a focus on workplace culture, was held as part of Construction Inclusion Week.

“When I think of workplace culture, I think of how I feel when I go to work and when our employees come to work, how do they feel?” said Alyssa Schuster, corporate recruiter from Stevens Construction Corp. “That’s what defines our workplace culture.”

Establishing and maintaining a positive workplace culture means that everyone gets to experience a workplace that is inclusive and respectful. A good culture leads to a safer and more productive job, which allows everyone to reach maximum potential.

Panelists from left to right: Amanda Garcia-Williams, HuschBlackwell; Adonica Randall, Abaxent, LLC; Alyssa Schuster, Stevens Construction Corp.; and Andrea Breen, Zignego Ready Mix.

“Diversity and diverse perspectives allow teams and companies to make better decisions, more creative decisions, more effective decisions, and more efficient decisions, because they’re bringing those diverse perspectives,” said Amanda Garcia-Williams, chief diversity, equity & inclusion officer from HuschBlackwell.

“Great workplace cultures are bringing in diverse identities and perspectives that are putting new ideas on the table. And that’s really where the magic happens,” Garcia-Williams said.

“When we have diverse teams, they have to be inclusively led,” added Garcia-Williams. “There is a sense of respect for everyone’s opinion and understanding that we want to hear from everyone. That is psychological safety. We know we’re here for each other. We’re going to create this environment where we’re going to solve this problem together.”

Andrea Bren from Zignego Ready Mix told a compelling story about a time when the guy asked her about how she felt about being the only female on a job site and she responded, “I don’t know, I’ve never tried it as a man.”

Fellow panelist, Adonica Randall from Abaxent, LLC, emphasized that workplace culture requires a positive attitude and an understanding of different experiences.

“I don’t know how you experienced it. You don’t know how I experienced it, but we’re going to explore this together,” Randall said. “We can respect our differences and bring it together in our culture.”

The ABC members and their representatives who participated in the event are passionate about diversity and its implications for construction.

“Diversity in construction can be many things from age demographics, to race, to gender, and beyond,” said Elizabeth Roddy, recruitment and training director from ABC of WI.

“It is smart business to make sure that we are looking in all demographic areas to recruit and retain the next generation of craft professionals, leaders, and company owners in the construction industry. Everyone benefits.”

The event was coordinated by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin and co-sponsored by the National Association of Minority Contractors Wisconsin Chapter, and the National Association of Women in Construction Milwaukee Chapter.

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