Compliance. Does Good. Could Do Better.
Compliance means conforming to laws, rules and regulations. In the construction industry, compliance can refer to requirements, or goals, placed on an Owner/Developer by a government or funding entity as a condition of project development or term of a tax abatement or credit. Some of these requirements flow down to CM/GCs, and their trade partners, in the form of obligations designed to improve community social and economic conditions through:
- contracting with small, local and/or minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, service disabled veteran owned or other disadvantaged business;
- hiring minorities and women
- supporting sponsored apprenticeship programs
- providing apprentice work opportunities
- paying prevailing wages and/or
- purchasing local construction supplies and equipment…
These types of obligations are integral to public work and increasingly nested in large-scale private work. While these goals are important components of balanced urban development, they can be difficult to meet, particularly in the sphere of diversity or inclusion. For example, the supply of qualified small, local and MBE, WBE, VOB, SDVOB and DBE businesses is often not large enough to meet contract goals that require 20% of the project value to be performed by these disadvantaged entities. Females and apprentices? It is extremely hard to meet the 7 to 10% participation goals as trade occupations have not historically been attractive to many women and to the newest generation of urban workers.
It can be very discouraging to be involved in compliance. The targets are almost impossible to meet currently, and the due diligence and documentation effort is time-consuming and seldom rewarding. We are behind the proverbial 8-ball, trying to diversify an industry that has historically been perceived to have high barriers to entry. Since it is unlikely that the diversity goals will be changed by legislators, another important way to achieve these goals may be to “prime the pump” and focus more energy on earlier recruitment and training of trade skills. For example, if Owners/Developers and CM/GCs and their trade partners are unable to meet the targets, other strategies could be “required” to supplement these social and economic goals for the community. Supplemental strategies could include requiring:
- participation in small and diverse subcontract business best practice seminars at community centers
- speaking to middle and high-school students about trade opportunities
- promoting trade opportunity awareness through women’s, youth, community and social organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, the YMCA, etc.
- designing, sponsoring and/or participating in after-school youth programs that provide a hands-on opportunity to find out what the trades are all about
- providing summer youth trade internships
- working with unions and trade organizations to embed Lean, BIM and other exciting technological advances into trade work to enhance career attractiveness
Let’s come together to do something truly positive toward building diversity and improving the odds of meeting compliance expectations.