The National Electrical Contractors Association is making strides in its effort to diversify the workforce and incorporate best practices, as evidenced by panelists who spoke on Monday at the Women In NECA/Future Leaders Roundtable 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.
Then, Amanda Harbison provided insights on her report, “Non-Collective Bargaining Employees – Survey of Diversity Analysis.” She broke down the figures behind 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 the following:
- 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
Adkins said embracing diversity and inclusion is a moral imperative for companies like Southwire.
“More diverse teams perform consistently better over a long period of time,” he said.
Kelly said that inclusion “breeds a sense of belonging.” The act of being inclusive, she added, is incorporating diversity and leveraging it for good.
Hart said she thought technology tends to attract a diverse and inclusive group of people and championing those things drives innovation. Kelly also said it generates opportunities for growth.
Pavlica, who is studying electrical construction management, wants to see diversity—including female foremen and journeymen—in prospective employers and the companies she will work for after graduating.
“It’s incredibly important,” she said.
Clement noted that he was helped by an electrical internship with Rosendin Electric that exposed him to different points of view.
Closing out the discussion, Tighe said NECA and its contractors must continue to talk up the industry among women, young people and minorities. He said 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. We have to get in front of the people in our towns.”
Added Adkins: “It’s noble to build a building, something that’s lasting and purpose-driven.”