The sophistication of current and future construction projects demands a highly skilled and experienced workforce. Therefore, the importance of ensuring that the workforce supply chain is adequately maintained to the industry's future can not be overstated. While different sectors within the construction industry make efforts to supply required professionals and skilled workers, there is still an under-representation of experienced workers from diverse backgrounds and demographics (MBIE, 2017). In general, construction projects lack sufficient representation of the required diversity and inclusivity expected of the workforce. For example, evidence shows that women and indigenous people are the least represented group of workers in construction (Rasheed et al., 2020). In contrast, the population of construction migrant/foreign workers grows (Buckley et al., 2016). As such, maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce is currently a challenge in the construction industry.
While an unendearing situation as some projects may have the notion of "as long as the job gets done", this indicates systematic hitches and issues (intentional or not) that have significant effects on project delivery (cost, quality and time). In this special issue, we focus on the issues that affect diversity and inclusivity in the construction stakeholder supply chain within the construction industry. The aim was to provide a platform for increased understanding of how the industry can be made more inclusive of diverse stakeholders to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the supply chain. Four papers were published, covering different aspects of stakeholders representation and management in the construction industry's supply chain. Two papers looked into factors that influence practice in construction supply chain management. The other two papers focused on the under-representation of women in the industry and the factors contributing to this in the Indonesian construction context.
The first paper discussed the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chain procurement behaviour amongst quantity surveying professionals. It provided a narrative around changes in social value creation as it became imperative that trust is built and communication is enhanced amongst the supply chain. This paper discussed the current aftermath of the COVID-19 induced recession in the UK and the potentially harmful ramifications to social values in the construction industry. Highlighting the importance of the supply chain to the successful delivery of construction projects, the authors interviewed seventeen (17) seasoned quantity surveying professionals. They found that while the supply chains are key to social value creation, the COVID -19 induced recession has presented further limitations to the existing lack of collaboration and information sharing amongst the supply chains. As noted by the authors, main contractors tend to revert to aggressive supply chain management, focusing solely on immediate cost and disregarding social value.
The second paper extended the argument of social value and consciousness by highlighting the role working experience plays on the personality traits of project managers. It investigated the moderating role of working experience on the relationship between project manager personality traits (PMPT) and the success of small-scale public construction projects (SPCPs). The authors studied 133 SPCPs project managers in Malaysia. They proved that conscientiousness and agreeableness had the strongest association to project success among small-scale public construction projects. In other words, these traits illustrate a project manager's ability to be positive, ambitious and target-oriented – traits invariably required to navigate this current post-COVID scenario. Past studies like Witton et al. 2019 support the findings highlighting the importance of personality traits in managing projects to ensure successful stakeholder supply chain management.
The third paper shifted the special issue's focus to understanding the causes of women's underrepresentation in the construction supply chain. It presented five critical groups of barriers to women's career growth in the construction industry in the Indonesian context. The paper noted that only 1.8% of the construction workforce were women, with 6.4% of these women having a formal academic background. The five (5) barriers groups were retrieved from 66 female construction workers in Indonesia to include insufficient personal development, gender discrimination, stereotyping the industry and uncomfortable working environment. These were supported by the opinions of experts who acknowledged the stress women face in the industry. The authors captured the associations between these groups of barriers in a framework by categorising these barriers into internal and external elements. As noted by the author, this framework illustrates the multi-faceted understanding of the barriers to more women representation in the construction industry.
The last paper of this special issue approached the underrepresentation of women from a motivational angle. Also focused on the Indonesian construction industry, it presented factors that encourage more women to work in the industry. To achieve this, the authors adopted a multi-sequence research technique that included a review of past works, interviews and questionnaire surveys. The motivating factors identified were grouped into six (6) cluster - work conditions, interpersonal relationship factors, gender equality, management aspects, working environment and general expectations. A motivational framework was developed that graphically represented the relationship between these factors as intrinsic and extrinsic to women's motivation to work in the construction industry. Other aspects such as cultural and historical influences were highlighted for future study.
Given these intriguing contributions, it is evident that greater synergy and integration is required in the construction supply chain to enable diversity and inclusion of a much-needed workforce. I agree that the current COVID-19 pandemic has presented further barriers to achieving a truly inclusive and diverse construction industry, as noted by papers 1 and 2. However, it also offers a rare opportunity for stakeholders and supply-chain managers to explore the factors presented in papers 3 and 4, not just for women but also for other groups underrepresented in the industry. There are still many structural questions to diversity and inclusivity in the construction supply chain that remain unanswered, promising an illuminating future for this area of research. I want to offer my sincere thanks to all the authors that have contributed to this special issue. Their invaluable findings have contributed to an endearing body of knowledge in the construction industry.
Dr Eziaku Onyeizu Rasheed (Guest Editor)
Senior Lecturer in Building Technology, School of Built Environment, Massey University. New Zealand
The construction industry is a major contributor to the UK economy and provides additional benefits for wider society including the creation of social value.
Project success requires organisations and project managers to change strategies to satisfy stakeholders. Research into project success needs comprehensive analysis and approaches in various contexts, especially touching on non-technical skills (personality).
The poor level of women’s participation in the construction industry has been a concern for many years. In fact, women represent less than 3% of the total workers in the Indonesian construction industry.
Women’s involvement in the Indonesian construction industry is considerably low accounting for less than 3% of the total workers. Construction as a male-dominated industry becomes a barrier for women to join the workforce.