In honor of Women in Construction Week, PCL Construction offers strategies for growing female representation and leadership in the industry.
DENVER, Colo. (March 7, 2022) – PCL Construction is proud to celebrate Women in Construction Week, March 6-12, a time to celebrate the contributions of women to the industry and invite more to consider joining the field.
Across the U.S., women are leading multi-million-dollar construction job sites, successfully bidding for high-profile projects, and overseeing operations for entire regions of the country. With support from PCL Construction, they’re also building a more inclusive and stronger industry.
“Construction needs a diverse group of thinkers to solve the everyday challenges that come up on a job site, which is why it’s important for companies to be proactive in recruiting a diverse workforce,” says Cathy Orquiola, regional vice president and member of the PCL Board of Directors.
Below, PCL Construction leaders share strategies to grow female representation in the industry and how companies can set their employees up to thrive.
STEM Mentorship is Key
According to Orquiola, the disparity in women joining the field starts at the collegiate level.
“If you look at the breakdown of who is graduating with a construction management degree, men still significantly outnumber women,” Orquiola says. “I think many women are interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields but may never been presented with construction as a career option.”
As part of its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), employees at PCL Construction offices across the country volunteer to participate in panels, lead science days and serve as mentors for programs that encourage women and girls to explore STEM careers. Orquiola is a national board member of the ACE Mentor Program, a free afterschool program designed to attract high school students to careers in architecture, construction, and engineering.
“Outreach is critical,” Orquiola says. “We need people of all backgrounds, abilities and genders in the industry, and it starts by encouraging our youth to explore the construction field.”
The Denver office of PCL Construction, which also serves as its U.S. Headquarters, is an active supporter of STEMblazers, an organization that works with young women students. PCL representatives are currently working on coordinating job site visits in the fall that would expose middle school and high school women to careers in construction.
“I wish I had known that the construction industry was an option during my first degree,” says Vanna Hosanny, a project engineer with the Denver office who holds two degrees from Colorado State University. “Representation and mentorship are key to helping young women envision themselves as construction leaders.”
Advocating for Advancement
Orquiola is a mentor for young women entering the construction industry and has helped many other women rise into positions of power. She also has advised industry leaders – men and women alike – on policy changes and strategies that create more inclusive companies.
One of the policies she has closely examined is how to end the gender pay gap while working closely with Michael Headrick, vice president and district manager for PCL’s California Buildings office.
Headrick’s approach is to be transparent and open about pay within the office he leads. Each quarter, his office pores over mountains of data to examine how each employee is being compensated and looks for areas of concern.
During his work to ensure equitable pay for PCL workers, he came across another issue – a title gap.
“Having the right title isn’t just about recognition in your role, it can also have a huge impact on a woman’s mobility and earnings potential over the course of her career,” Headrick says. “In addition to evaluating pay, we frequently look at our positions to ensure a worker’s title accurately reflects their level of responsibility and contributions to the team.”
Empowered to Lead
PCL Construction recognizes that achieving equity begins with listening. Each PCL office has a DE&I committee which serves as a platform for women and all employees to voice their opinions and recommendations for company policies that create a more inclusive environment.
“DE&I is embedded in how we do business,” Hosanny says. “Our people are our backbone, which is why our mission at PCL is to make sure that everyone feels included and part of something bigger than themselves.”
Deron Brown, president and chief operating officer for PCL Construction’s U.S. operations, says that inclusion doesn’t happen without an organization’s proactive efforts.
“Companies need to serve as champions for diversity – that means listening to employees about how we can support them in their unique circumstances and learning how we can set each individual up for success in their role.”
He continues, “the women at PCL Construction set the gold standard for the industry. Their vision and talents add to our strength as an organization and are a core part of our continued role as a leader in the AEC industry.”
About PCL Construction
PCL is a group of independent construction companies that carries out work across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and in Australia. These diverse operations in the civil infrastructure, heavy industrial, and buildings markets are supported by a strategic presence in more than 30 major centers. Together, these companies have an annual construction volume of more than $6 billion USD, making PCL one of the largest contracting organizations in North America. Watch us build at www.pcl.com.