Rick Wade Rick Wade
Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Outreach, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Published

October 24, 2022

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Disparities in infrastructure have cost too many communities valuable resources, time, effort, and money, leading to fewer opportunities for economic growth. For many communities – whether minority, Appalachian, tribal, urban, or rural – the dream of an inclusive social and economic infrastructure is still not a reality.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports inclusive infrastructure investments for the simple fact that equality within infrastructure can lead to closing the opportunity gap that still impacts so many Americans in the 21st century. The recently passed Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA) can transform these communities that have been historically underserved and left behind as well as significantly improve the quality of life of ALL people.

One key to inclusive infrastructure investment is improving diversity and inclusion in the construction industry. The Associated General Contractors released a report in 2018 outlining six reasons why diversity and inclusion are strategically valuable in generating corporate/industry innovation, increasing profitability, and ensuring a positive and sustaining legacy of progress. As the report states, “the arguments presented for a company including diversity and inclusion as a key business strategy go beyond the moral imperative of ‘doing the right thing’ and focus on the measurable and tangible financial results that can be achieved with effective implementation.”

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021 only 9.9% of construction professionals were women, 6.2% were Black, and 2% were Asian. Workplace diversity adds creativity to an otherwise homogeneous group, increasing workplace productivity and performance alongside new perspectives. The Associated General Contractors highlight that diverse suppliers not only meet or exceed expectations but also generate positive financial returns.  It is imperative that every company comes together to cultivate change among themselves and industry partners. 

Last week we celebrated Construction Inclusion Week, an industry-wide awareness effort that fosters conversations among industry leaders and businesses around the construction industry’s efforts to increase diversity and inclusion among contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers.

Construction Inclusion Week provides educational and business resources for the construction industry, including live-streamed content, facilitator tools, and robust curriculum. By participating in Construction Inclusion Week companies made a pledge and took action to jumpstart important conversations and work together to implement measurable change. Only when the business community comes together to work collaboratively will we be able to see concrete change and move our nation forward.

Inclusive infrastructure investment is imperative to America’s competitiveness. Let’s make this reality by working together to transform communities, both economically and through improved quality of life.

About the authors

Rick Wade

Rick Wade

Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Outreach, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Rick C. Wade is senior vice president of Strategic Alliances and Outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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