The Women of Chesapeake Contracting Group
Although only an estimated 9.1% of the construction industry is made up of women, that number is on the rise, and for good reason. Following the lead of other industries, the construction world is making strides to better understand and appreciate the benefits of a diverse employee base.
Chesapeake Contracting Group (CCG) has been ahead of the trend, securing a steady increase in the number of women employed over the past 10 years. “Our company philosophy has always placed focus on finding the best person for the job, when hiring and promoting employees”, said CCG Senior Director of Human Resources Kim Campbell. The CCG team includes 20% women, including 12% in high level leadership roles and in the field.
As a leader in the company, Campbell is motivated by being a trailblazer and innovator in the field. She was attracted to the industry because she believed it offered great potential and the chance to make a difference, performing an essential function within a company that enriches communities, both locally and abroad. She finds inspiration in defying a stereotype that exist in a male dominated field.
The construction industry encompasses a wide range of positions, allowing CCG to attract women with varying skills in positions ranging from estimators, project managers and bid engineers to leadership management positions. Chesapeake’s leadership uses encouragement, flexibility and understanding with their workforce to develop loyalty and opportunity for employees. Their supportive environment also allows women to build confidence and opportunities.
Kaitlyn Allgood, CCG’s Controller, who has been with the company for eight years offers that “the leadership team has been instrumental in my professional growth, supporting my career as it progressed from working woman to a working mom.” Allgood, mom of two, started as a Project Accountant in 2012. “This company’s leadership recognizes and helps nurture employees so that they can manage work and life responsibilities. Without their encouragement, flexibility and understanding my family would not be thriving and my career would not be advancing” says Allgood.
Currently, opportunities for career growth in the field are significant. According to Associated Builders and Contractors, construction is expected to grow by 3% in 2020. That includes an additional $50 billion in construction spending, with 323,000 newly created jobs, a number that could grow to almost two million by 2021. Not only are increased job openings readily available for women, but also the average compensation for construction jobs is better and more equal compared to many other industries.
Berengere Moss, an Associate Estimator, recognized that the construction industry offered an outstanding opportunity to learn and advance quickly.” At CCG and in the industry, I personally do not feel like I am facing challenges because I’m a woman. If I lack experience in doing a part of my job, my teammates, whether man or woman, are always open to teaching me as I do the same for any colleague in need, regardless of gender.” Moss started with the CCG team as a Bid Coordinator, and her hard work ethic and strong attention to detail quickly got her a promotion within the Pre-Construction Department.
CCG has maintained a reputation of excellent work and client relationships during their 41 years in the industry. “We are committed to finding employees who share our emphasis on quality, teamwork and superior projects. We offer internships and recruit employees who fit into our supportive spirit and share our work ethic. We encourage women to be a part of the team and provide their own unique perspective and knowledge,” said CCG President Frank Settleman.
As a project engineer, one of Lacey Cohen’s goals is to reinforce the strength of women in the workplace. “I have found that there is a stereotype of women in business that we are sensitive and that the truth may ‘hurt our feelings’, when in reality we are tough and can handle whatever message needs to be communicated.” As a new mother, she acknowledges that there are some challenges, such as construction trailers where nursing is challenging which requires additional time and planning and having to find alternatives for certain physical demands during pregnancy. At CCG, however, she feels she has found a company that supports her career and family goals.
There has never been a better time to be a woman in construction. Many companies like CCG are embracing diversity and working to close the gender gap. Men and women alike at the company encourage women to explore opportunities in the profession. The foundation for equality within the industry has been poured, and together there is an opportunity to construct a world built by men and women—working side by side.