On May 28, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) hosted the first in a series of virtual events aimed at engaging and prioritizing women in leadership throughout the built environment.
Twenty women executives were selected to join the Women Executives in Building: Virtual Leadership Series meeting, which was co-hosted by Lakisha A. Woods, CAE, president and CEO of NIBS, and Nancy Novak, chief innovation officer with Compass Datacenters.
"Data shows that the industry and nation do not put enough tools and resources toward helping to grow women in leadership – particularly in the building industry," Woods said. "That needs to change. It's not about bringing people together this one time. We need to continue to talk amongst ourselves so we can address how to overcome common issues and find solutions."
The meeting focus was around work production and maintaining productivity in a workplace or jobsite. Some of the topics discussed include logistics and supply chain, technology and innovation, contractual arrangements, communication and partnerships.
"It's human nature to want to be productive," Novak said. "Production gives you purpose, and it helps you grow. Change is hard, and investing in change is risky. But not changing could be fatal."
Statistics show that 51 percent of nation is female, yet more than 90 percent of the building industry is male. The number of women entering construction and other built environment-related jobs continues to grow, but it's not enough.
"These jobs are essential," Woods said. "The people in this business affect where we live, work, learn, and play. You want to have diversity in an industry that shapes the safety and sustainability of your home, work and schools."
NIBS hosted the first annual Women Executives in Building Summit on Oct. 4, 2019, with the goal to gather a group of female executives to talk about tough issues like diversity, inclusion and management in the built environment. The NIBS team handpicked the executives invited to the summit, which was held at the headquarters of the National Restaurant Association in Washington, D.C.
The summit featured a strong panel of CEOs, including Paula Glover, of the American Association of Blacks in Energy; Andrea Rutledge, with the Construction Management Association of America; and Dawn Sweeney, of the National Restaurant Association. Some of the issues discussed include balancing work and family, reaching career counselors and youth in high school and college to recruit into the industry, and whether companies are doing a good job with recruiting and taking care of women entering the workforce.
Subsequent webinars in the series are scheduled for June 25 and July 30. The second annual Women Executives in Building Summit is scheduled for Sept. 23-24 in Nashville, Tennessee.