State auditors found Massachusetts broadly missed its workforce participation goals for women and minorities on construction contracts, according to constructiondive.com.
Ninety-five percent of contracts administered by the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, which oversees more than $2 billion in construction spending annually, failed to meet Massachusetts’ 6.9% target for hours worked by women. Additionally, 64% of contracts missed the 15.3% participation goal for minorities.
Sixty-one percent of contracts did not have any hours clocked by women, and 28% reported no hours logged by minorities. The report audited contracts from Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2020.
The construction industry has been trying to make strides regarding diversity and inclusion, hoping to change hiring practices and construction’s image and help ease the industry’s labor shortage.
Lisa Dixon, chief of staff at DCAMM, disputed the state auditor’s figures, saying the numbers did not acknowledge contracts with few workers and limited hours; situations where a project was just beginning or ending; or jobs that had a small crew of in-house specialty staff.
However, the auditor’s office stood by its figures, saying DCAMM was not diligent when monitoring and enforcing the requirements. The audit found DCAMM did not have adequate processes in place to ensure contractors met workforce participation goals for women and minorities as required by state law. It also concluded DCAMM did not enforce workforce tracking by contractors.
Dixon said during the two years since the period covered in the auditor’s report, DCAMM has worked to address many of the issues raised; for example, it added an additional review to projected workforce participation tables and a quarterly report requirement for all active contracts.
Efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the industry likely will be hampered if tracking and enforcement mechanisms are not in place.
“If no one is holding these guys accountable, they’re not going to actually participate,” said Lisa Garney, owner of G2 Construction, Kansas City, Mo.