The construction industry kicked off a weeklong, nationwide series of events focusing on diversity and inclusion with a “toolbox talk” at the new Kansas City Current stadium project. The event, which was witnessed by national and local officials, marks the start of Construction Inclusion Week, an industry-led effort to get more women and Black Americans into high-paying construction careers.

“We are doing this because it is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do,” said Shea De Lutis, a national officer for the Associated General Contractors of America. “Our nation’s workforce is becoming increasingly diverse and if we can’t find a way to become equally diverse, we won’t be able to keep pace with demand for construction.”

Construction Inclusion Week is a three-year-old, industry-led initiative that asks construction firms across the country to organize activities that are designed to make their teams more inclusive to encourage greater diversity in the industry. De Lutis noted that thousands of the association’s members are holding diversity and inclusion education sessions, toolbox talks and stand-downs over the coming week as part of the effort.

De Lutis said the Associated General Contractors is a big supporter of Inclusion Week because it reinforces the group’s long-standing efforts to diversify the construction industry. She noted that too few women work in construction. While women make up almost half of the U.S. workforce, they are only 11 percent of the construction industry. She added that while Black Americans are 13 percent of the total workforce, they are only 7 percent of construction professionals.

The construction official noted that the association has compiled a comprehensive, research-based business case that documents the many safety, innovation and financial benefits that construction firms achieve when they diversify their ranks. The association has also invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in targeted digital advertising efforts designed to reach underrepresented workers and encourage them to pursue high-paying construction careers.

De Lutis added that hundreds of firms, including JE Dunn, which is building the stadium project, are using the association’s Culture of CARE program to help make their job sites more welcoming and inclusive. And the association has also created a tool kit for emerging contractors to help new and minority-owned construction firms grow from startup to success.

She added that the association’s diversity and inclusion efforts are designed to complement the work its chapters, like the Kansas City-based Builders, are taking to help build a more inclusive and diverse construction industry. “We are never going to solve this industry’s workforce challenges if we are failing to recruit over half – and growing – of the U.S. workforce,” De Lutis noted.

The Builders’ new president, Lance Claiborne, most recently worked as a DEI professional for a large construction firm in Philadelphia. He noted the many initiatives The Builders have to advance diversity in the industry, but he also called attention to the collaboration across the industry that is necessary for success.

“It takes the whole industry to move the needle on inclusion — diversity can’t be one person or organization’s job,” Claiborne said. “It must be an intentional part of every role in every organization.”

For more information about how the association is supporting national Construction Inclusion Week, visit