Entrepreneur Building Inclusivity into Construction Industry

LGBTQ+ individuals make up a very small percentage of the construction industry. But one entrepreneur is looking to make the industry more welcoming to members of this community.

Tommy Whitehead is the owner of TomCo Solutions, an LGBTBE-certified construction company in the Tampa, Florida area. TomCo Solutions is one of just 50 businesses around the U.S. with this certification. But he’s looking to create a more inclusive environment for other LGBTQ+ individuals in the construction industry through his new organization, the Pride Construction Coalition.

The organization’s website states, “Pride Construction Coalition, Inc is an organization formed to unite and empower LGBT Construction Professionals, fostering their networking and advocacy. We strive to promote economic growth while upholding the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We will provide support to LGBTQ+ charities and other charitable organizations through social activities, fundraising, and volunteer work.”

Whitehead told Spectrum News 9, “There are a lot of barriers in this industry for LGBT individuals. We don’t want to be looked at differently and sometimes we have to stand up and say hey, we’re just professionals; we’re here to do our job.”

Zippia, an online career resource, estimates that only about 2 percent of all construction workers are members of the LGBTQ+ community. So, there’s not a huge amount of representation in the industry. And through construction businesses and projects must adhere to all anti-discrimination laws, initiatives and groups like Pride Construction Coalition can go a long way toward making historically marginalized groups feel more welcome.

This isn’t the first initiative aimed at improving LGBTQ+ representation in the building and construction industry. A few years ago, the Associated General Contractors of California partnered with the LGBTQ+ advocacy group BuildOUT California to promote inclusion.

Part of the goal of this partnership was to encourage more interest in the profession, especially among young people.

Peter Tateishi, AGC of California CEO said back in 2021, “If you are a minority or LGBTQ+ and you don’t feel that you are represented or welcome, then you’re not going to pursue [a career in construction], no matter how much money we tell them they can make.”

Business owners in many industries, including construction, tend to want to build teams simply based on talent and qualifications. But when certain groups don’t feel welcomed in an industry, whether that’s due to actual discrimination or just a general lack of representation, there may be a significantly smaller talent pool to draw from.

Groups and initiatives like the Pride Construction Coalition can go a long way toward improving representation for LGBTQ+ individuals in the industry. But other business owners can make smaller changes like creating a welcoming environment and providing opportunities for a diverse workforce, which can add up over time.

Image: Envato

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