Exclusion and Inclusion in the Australian AEC Industry and Its Significance for Women and Their Organizations

Valerie Francis and Elisabeth Michielsens, Journal of Management in Engineering, Vol 37, No 5, 2021. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000929, https://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/%28ASCE%29ME.1943-5479.0000929

Abstract: Based on valuing individual differences and embracing all employees, diversity management is widespread and evident in many organizations. However, discriminatory work practices and lack of support persist in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry, with higher turnover for women and lower participation rates still evident. While well-meaning, these diversity strategies and practices are costly. Therefore, it is essential to understand the benefits women and their organizations gain, as well as attributes associated with more diverse and inclusionary workplaces. A theoretical framework based on social exchange theory was used to develop a questionnaire administered to professional women in the AEC industry. The sample was divided into two groups, women who experienced inclusion or exclusion, and comparisons made using a range of statistical tests. While inclusion did not affect women’s career advancement, it was associated with increased satisfaction and decreased turnover intent. Inclusive companies had more female employees and leaders and also featured significantly higher mentoring and organizational training levels. The findings demonstrate inclusion to be essential for women’s retention and an important management objective for the AEC industry.

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