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Industry Perspectives: Respectful workplace integral to attracting and retaining workers

Christina Taylor
Industry Perspectives: Respectful workplace integral to attracting and retaining workers

News headlines continue to underscore the importance of ensuring a corporate culture and environment that promotes respect and inclusion in the workplace.

Progressive companies in all sectors have embraced these goals, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because adoption of these important principles provides them with a competitive advantage when recruiting and retaining the best and the brightest talent.

Research shows that an effective respectful and inclusive workplace program contributes to the bottom line. For example:

In a global study, Shattering the Glass Ceiling by Boston Consulting Group, 90 per cent of executives across all business sectors reported seeing a connection between diversity and their company’s success.

Employees in a “speak-up” culture are three-and-a-half times more likely to contribute their full innovative potential, according to a study published in the December 2013 issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR).

The same HBR study noted leaders who give diverse voices equal airtime are nearly twice as likely as other leaders to unleash value-driving insights.

The Microsoft Mission Statement provides a great example of the importance of these values to corporate success: “Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

One of Microsoft’s Core Values is “Diversity and Inclusion: Explore how we maximize every person’s contribution — from our employees to our customers — so that the way we innovate naturally includes diverse thought.”

Successful firms realize creating a respectful and inclusive work environment not only helps with recruitment, it supports employee retention. After all, there’s no point investing in efforts to get people through the door and training them if the workplace culture discourages them from staying.

As Canada’s demographic crunch becomes more acute over the next decade, competition for top talent will become intense and the construction and maintenance industry will not be immune. By 2027, nearly 20 per cent of the current workforce will have retired, and fewer younger workers will be entering the workforce.

To overcome this challenge, the construction and maintenance industry has increased its efforts to promote careers within the industry to groups traditionally underrepresented in the sector’s workforce, including Indigenous workers, women and newcomers to Canada. To enhance these efforts, and more importantly, to ensure this progress is not squandered, successful firms will need to establish workplace environments that support a culture of inclusiveness and respect for all individuals.

Simply put, in the absence of such an environment, the construction sector will continue to lose out to other industries in the race to recruit the best and the brightest of the next generation of workers.

Many of the construction sector’s leading firms not only understand the importance of workplace respect and inclusiveness, they have incorporated these principles into their core values, vision and mission. Many of these firms rank consistently high among employers in annual national surveys ranking the country’s top employers.

To help further advance the industry’s efforts to create a more respectful and inclusive workplace environment, BuildForce Canada will be launching a Respectful and Inclusive Workplace Toolkit this fall.

The toolkit will offer three tools: the Respectful Workplace Online Self-Assessment Tool for management to evaluate existing corporate policies and procedures and highlight any gaps that may exist; the Working in a Respectful and Inclusive Workplace online course designed for onsite workers and supervisors; and a Respectful Workplace Policy Framework and supporting Implementation Guide.

These three tools were developed with input from industry and offer the support needed to assist the construction and maintenance industry in creating a respectful and welcoming workplace for everyone.

At its heart, creating a respectful and inclusive workplace is about seeing the workplace through someone else’s lens and asking yourself whether this is a place you’d want to return to work every morning. What does a respectful workplace mean to you?

Christina Taylor is the chair of BuildForce Canada. Send comments and Industry Perspectives column ideas to

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