With veteran baby boomer technicians entering retirement, the skilled trades are experiencing a large gap in the workforce as there is not as many young people in the pipeline to replace them. Skilled technicians are needed, and it is becoming more difficult to find them with traditional ways of recruitment. To fill the gap, the industry must focus its recruitment efforts on underrepresented groups such as females, Indigenous peoples, new citizens, and other cultural groups in order to build a diverse team.
The trade industry must recognize the power of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Think about it, you are less likely to foster innovative ideas and results from a group of people who look, sound, and think the same, and have had all of the same experiences. Diversity in the workplace generates a variety of different knowledge, skills, and abilities which benefit a company. It is important for all levels of an organization to understand the importance of diversity and recognize change in order to create a healthy and productive workplace culture.
Benefits of diversity in the workplace include:
Increased productivity and Innovation
- Cultural differences allow for diverse perspectives and new ways of thinking. This reduces groupthink and fosters innovation leading to better performance, results, and profit. As well, exclusionary behaviours diminish employee engagement which has a direct negative impact on productivity.
Reduced employee turnover
- Creating an inclusive culture helps to reduce employee turnover as it keeps top talent invested in their jobs long term. This also gives companies a competitive advantage as many people feel that a more inclusive organization is a better place to work. Afterall, if an employee feels like they are not part of a safe inclusive environment, they will likely leave.
Ability to connect with a bigger customer base
- Having a diverse workforce is also critical to understanding your customer base. For example, what happens when nobody on your team can speak the same language as a potential client? You lose that business. You need to have a diverse set of employees to help meet the needs of customers. Being able to effectively serve more population groups and communities allows more opportunity to generate revenue. As well, a homogeneous team that shares the same background may be simply unaware of the many cultural differences that drive behaviour and decision-making.
Workplace diversity has demonstrated its value in sparking innovations, fostering creativity, and solving problems. Cultural and gender differences can help introduce new ideas and fresh perspectives. In order for mechanical contractors to create a diverse and inclusive work environment, there must be a conscious recruitment effort to search for different perspectives and people who can add a new layer of vision to your business outside of the norm.