A view on the future of construction

Work in Progress

Also on the “Look Ahead” panel was 84 Lumber’s Christi Powell. Powell, who heads the Women Business Enterprise Division and is an HBSDealer Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply honoree, described progress on the diversity front.

Female representation at companies in the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council in the Northeast has swelled from 6 percent two years ago, to 37 percent.

“That’s just happened in 24 months,” Powell said. “And it’s really going to make a huge difference on innovation, the creativity and the forward-thinking processes and systems and policies that we’re going to be putting in place for the construction industry.”

“You know you need outspoken challengers,” she said. “What your organization needs to see next, you need to provide air cover for those agents of change.”

Changing mindsets will be a big part of the growth of construction over the next 50 years. And there’s a need for a new generation of tech savvy workers. And she used a pizza-delivery analogy to make her point.

“We also need challengers about technology,” she said. For instance: “I could order pizza right now from my Apple watch. For it to get here, there would be 70 different types of technology. But on a job site, I’m just calling somebody to call somebody to call somebody to see if my $500,000 piece of equipment is going to show up.”

To wrap up the panel, moderator Monika Serrano, resilience program manager for Turner Construction, asked panelists, “What makes you angry?”

Marks, herself a competitive rugby player, shared a personal story about her daughter’s rugby experience.

“What makes me angry is that we have a lot of people that talk about that they want diversity in the construction space,” she said. “And then every weekend I get to watch my daughter and all of her friends and the girls who are on her team. And I watch these thousands of girls on the field, where girls are wearing cleats and they know how to use the core of their body, and they’re strong, and they don’t need exoskeletons to be on job sites.“

“And then I look around, and there’s not one sponsorship sign for Turner or Skanska or Bechtel, or any of these construction companies that say they want women. And I think to myself, they don’t really want us. Because if they really wanted us, they’d stop talking. And they’d write a check.”

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A view on the future of construction:

Work in Progress Also on the “Look Ahead” panel was 84 Lumber’s Christi Powell. Powell, who hea…