With labor shortages threatening the productivity and efficiency of the building industry, diversity, equity and inclusion come to the forefront as companies work to fill roles with expert candidates.
Craig Miles, Vice President, National Sales, OSB Marketing and Planning for LP® Building Solutions, recently spoke about the industry’s history with DE&I on “Enclosure Experts,” the Building Enclosure podcast. He explains how the initiative is linked to sustainability and discusses steps that LP Building Solutions is taking to combat issues of diversity in the workplace and the industry as a whole.
Diversity in the Building Industry
“Today our industry lacks basic diversity,” Miles suggests. “It’s not necessarily an industry where people have been told they can’t be a part of it, but it’s a reputation-based perception that makes the industry unwelcoming to folks who aren’t part of the group that has historically been considered ‘construction workers.’”
Miles cites the typical stereotype of the construction worker: a “gruff” male employee at a jobsite in the city. But the industry already contains a more diverse set of people than what that narrow stereotype allows—and there is still room to grow.
As a performance-driven organization, LP and its success hinges on the quality of the talent that joins the team. By opening the doors to a wider group of people, LP can help address the endemic labor shortage while also advocating for the expansion of training and education programs, both internally and externally, and scholarship programs for underrepresented groups in the construction industry.
How Does Diversity Link to Sustainability?
LP recognizes the importance of prioritizing DE&I initiatives that make the company a welcoming place for anyone to work, and the team hopes to lead the way for the rest of the construction industry in all aspects, including this one. When it comes to sustainability, part of building a greener world is making sure that the embodied experience in that world is a positive one where each individual has opportunities to advance and grow, regardless of their demographics.
Miles also draws an important connection between diversity and sustainability. He notes that approaches to sustainable homes differ depending on your perspective of solving problems. “More diverse people give us more diverse answers,” he adds. Moving forward as an industry can’t be done without fresh perspectives. “We recycle old answers from generation to generation,” Miles says. “What diverse candidates give us is a new basket of ideas to find new solutions from.”
To solve the industry’s challenges, we need as many perspectives as we can get—and diverse teams are proven to be more efficient and creative. That’s why LP seeks to bring in a diverse set of team members who can work to make better solutions together.
How Can We Increase Diversity in the Industry?
To increase diversity, perceptions of the industry need to change as well. Miles points out that breaking down stereotypes of the construction workplace and showing how data and technology drive the industry will be key in shifting these perceptions.
In addition, education plays a role. “We can make training more available and broaden access to courses,” he notes. Additionally, universities are often adding degrees that invite students to learn about building science and prepare for a construction career.
At LP, Miles characterizes the company’s action plan as “robust,” with the goal of creating a more inclusive environment for their people. “We’re investing effort and energy to ensure we have a diverse set of applicants,” he says. “This is becoming an important fixture of our recruiting efforts.”
As Miles notes, “we’ve promised to be active participants in finding solutions. We freely admit that we don’t have all the answers, and we will make mistakes. But we try to do everything that we can with the best of intentions as we learn and listen.”
LP’s Impact on the Industry
Sustainability in its many forms is always top-of-mind for LP Building Solutions. With the LP Structural Solutions portfolio and the company’s full collection of products, LP demonstrates its mission to provide innovative and sustainable high-quality products that help customers build beautiful, durable homes.
The LP Structural Solutions portfolio adapts to meet the world’s changing needs, from green building to efficiency, air quality and overall resiliency. It includes solutions for moisture management, radiant barrier roof sheathing, fire-resistant wall assemblies, premium sub-flooring and temperature control, among others.
Ultimately, as Miles shows, LP works to ensure the company contributes to better building, and therefore, a better world for all of us, from jobsite solutions to diversity and much more. Learn more about LP Building Solutions by visiting lpcorp.com.