A Foreman’s Perspective; How Construction Has Changed
June 17, 2021
A Build Your Future Arizona investor with a formal Diversity policy worth emulating, is DP Electric. Today we want to highlight the experiences of one of its employees who has been there, working through the years, and who offers his perspective into the ways construction has evolved. We touch base with Julio Alvarado, General Foreman at DP Electric, who worked his way up through the ranks, starting as a journeyman and recently received the honor of General Foreman of the Year for both 2019 and 2020. It helps to get the point of view of someone who is living through these changes, and who can tell us what it looks like from the inside out.
When asked about his own assumptions starting out in the skilled crafts, Julio (like a lot of people) didn’t initially see it as a viable career path. ‘My assumption was that it was temporary. I didn’t think I could make a career out of construction. Boy, was I wrong about that.” The construction industry has the perception of being a “job” for laborers, and not a serious career track.
As Julio aptly points out, this couldn’t be further from the truth. One way construction has been revamping its image is by showing the younger generation starting out and career-changers that there is earning potential for a career in the skilled crafts. Through apprenticeship programs and specialized training, you can really write your own story and go on to an exciting, fulfilling career.
Even though opportunity is there, as a Latino in the construction industry, Alvarado concedes that it hasn’t always been easy for him. Though he’s earned some accolades in his recent past, these wins came after years of hard work. Alvarado knew starting out that he’d “have to work twice as hard to get the recognition of being a great leader. Sometimes you just don’t get the recognition that is deserved.” Unfortunately, the research bears this experience out. Nearly ¼ of employees in one survey, by the hiring website Indeed, report being discriminated against at work.
DP Electric has modeled diversity initiatives, essentially by making them part of the mission statement to combat qualms against diversity in the industry. The company’s stated Diversity Policy carefully lays out a comprehensive case for diversity and inclusion as underpinning every aspect of the company’s culture. Each employee is made aware of this policy during onboarding which upholds respectful communication and a zero-tolerance approach to workplace discrimination.
DP Electric also explicitly states that they “embrace and encourage our employees’ differences in age, color, disability, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status” so that every new hire understands the expectations and standards that he or she is expected to uphold as a part of the DP Electric family. In this way, there are no surprises or miscommunications on the job.
Julio shares that he’s witnessed progress firsthand. He remembers that when he started out diversity and inclusion was not really on the industry’s radar the way it is today. Today, the industry is actively “getting rid of barriers and stereotypes – hiring different ethnicities and women. I can definitely see a change in the industry from 20 years ago.” Though construction may not have been an early adopter to the principles of diversity and inclusion, it’s hard to argue that the industry has benefited (and continues to benefit from) policies that foster innovation and a variety of perspectives. Over and over, it’s been shown that diversity improves outcomes and benefits your bottom line.
When asked how the industry could do better to recruit a more diverse workforce, Alvarado circles back to an earlier point he made about industry perceptions. “It would be helpful if the industry could find a way to market the fact this is a very well-paying career and that you can take advantage of free schooling.” Such as DP Electric’s Accredited Apprenticeship Program. Additionally, you must still remind people that construction offers well-paying jobs where you have many growth opportunities. If we can encourage job seekers about the potential in construction, we will energize and inspire a whole new generation of leaders in the industry.
When we ask Alvarado for his thoughts on the next generation, who might have uncertainty about acceptance or inclusion in construction, he strikes a decidedly optimistic note. “Don’t make assumptions about construction. This is a career where you get to make lots of friends on the way and earn a pretty good living.” And finally, after a bit more reflection, “It’s actually not as hard as it looks when you put your mind to it.”
To learn more about opportunities in the skilled crafts, explore construction careers on our site in English or en español.