Construction has predominantly been a male-dominated industry. According to The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)’s website*, “ As of Dec. 31, 2018, approximately 1,106,919 women were employed in various occupation sectors of the construction industry. Women now make up 9.9 percent of the construction industry in the United States.” Building gender equality is an important component to any company’s growth through employee engagement and retention.
Women often face different challenges in the workforce and those challenges need to be supported. S. M. Wilson recognized this need in our industry and began the journey of change and empowerment with the founding of Wilson Women and working with the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis.
Established in fall 2019, Wilson Women’s mission is to “Bring together the women of our company for relationship building, community service, mentorship, networking and learning opportunities.”
The multi-faceted program meets quarterly and hosts a variety of events including external speakers, internal discussions and team-building activities. In addition, Wilson Women supports external endeavors including professional development opportunities and networking events.
In addition to the company’s 29 female employees, the program is also supported by S. M. Wilson’s male associates. All employees are encouraged to participate and contribute to group discussions and events which include a range of topics from unconscious gender bias to leadership training.
At S. M. Wilson, 27% of the company’s employees and 18% of leadership are female.
“Being a woman in an industry predominantly and historically pursued by men does not have to be the incredible struggle it was decades ago. Fortunately, women have pioneered their way into most construction-related careers,” stated Amy Berg, S. M. Wilson’s President since 2012.
In addition to Wilson Women, S. M. Wilson & Co. wanted to demonstrate a strong commitment to Workplace Gender Equity and looked to the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis (WFSTL) for guidance.
Four years ago, the WFSTL launched a scorecard to recognize top places for women to work known as the “Women in the Workplace: Employment Scorecard.” S. M. Wilson was recognized as one of 21 St. Louis employers demonstrating excellence in four areas of workplace gender equity – leadership, compensation, flexible work policies, and recruitment and retention.
The Women in the Workplace Scorecard recognizes 21 small, medium and large companies in the St. Louis region who showed a strong commitment to women in the workplace through measurable outcomes, key policies and best practices, including demonstrating results with women in a minimum of 28 percent of top leadership roles; a minimum of 25 percent of women in the top 10 percent of the most highly compensated employees; a starting wage higher than the Missouri minimum wage; and family-friendly flexible work policies and recruitment and retention programs targeted at advancing women.
Unlike most “Best Places to Work” reports that rely on employee opinion surveys, the Women in the Workplace: Employment Scorecard looked at objective criteria and outcomes. Through a blind data review process by a seven-person panel, the Scorecard evaluates company employment practices and their impact on gender diversity. Designated organizational representatives were asked to answer specific questions based on existing policies, practices or employee data.
“Using resources through sources such as WFSTL allows us to be a better employer,” stated Berg. S. M. Wilson continues to develop additional resources and programming through the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee driven by Diversity Manager, Maggie Farrell.
To learn more about WFSTL visit: www.wfstl.org/women-in-the-workplace-initiative.