The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and its members are making strides in their effort to diversify the electrical contracting workforce and incorporate best practices within their companies, as evidenced by panelists who spoke on Monday during the Women In NECA (WIN) + Future Leaders roundtable session at NECA 2018 Philadelphia.
NECA President David Long provided opening comments and took questions from attendees. “I am very encouraged by the enthusiasm,” he said. “I think we can do phenomenal things.”
Long stressed the importance of diversity and touched on topics ranging from NECA’s relationship with the IBEW and education for kids in high school and younger. “New standards would put apprenticeship curriculum in high school,” he said.
Amanda Harbison then provided insights on her report titled, Non-Collective Bargaining Employees – Survey of Diversity Analysis. Harbison broke down the figures behind women and women in the industry’s workforce. “This is a really good basis to go on and make a longitudinal study,” she said.
The panel discussion of leaders, focusing on diversity and inclusion in the electrical construction industry, featured:
- Norman Adkins, Group President, Construction Systems and Solutions at Southwire
- Kevin Clement, Assistant Project Manager at Rosendin Electric
- Angela Hart, Vice President at Rosendin Electric
- Kelli Kelly, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at PCL Construction
- Kevin Tighe, Executive Director of Labor Relations and Workforce Development at NECA
- Brynn Pavlica, Student at Dunwoody College of Technology
"Embracing diversity and inclusion is a moral imperative for companies like Southwire," adds Adkins. “More diverse teams perform consistently better over a longer period of time.”
Kelly adds that, "[inclusion] breeds a sense of belonging.” "The act of being inclusive," she added, "is incorporating diversity and leveraging it for good. It generates opportunities for growth."
"Technology tends to attract a more diverse and inclusive group of people. Championing those things drives innovation," Hart responded.
Pavilca, who is currently studying electrical construction management, would like to see diversity – specifically female foremen and journeymen -- in the prospective employers and companies she may work for after graduating. “It’s incredibly important,” she added.
Clement notes that he was exposed to different points of view through his electrical internship with Rosendin Electric.
Closing out the discussion, Tighe states that "NECA and its contractors must continue to talk up the industry among women, young people and minorities. Killing the stereotype of jobs in the trades as having limited career potential is vital."
“We need to shout out who we are and what we do,” he said. “We need to promote our role models. Get the message out to the people in our towns.”
Adkins concludes, “It’s noble to build a building, something that’s lasting and purpose-driven."