Congratulations to JP Cullen’s Milwaukee Division Manager, Shannon Metoxen, for being appointed to the AGC of America’s Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee for four terms. There are a limited number of seats on this steering committee with only a few open for this next term so this is a huge honor. I sat down with Shannon to learn more about his role on the committee and why diversity and inclusion is so important to him in the construction industry.
Why did you want to be a part of the AGC of America Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee?
As a member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians, I want to bring my perspective as a diverse person to the committee and use my background and experience on other boards to bring new ideas and suggestions to help our industry grow our diverse workforce. I hope to grow the diversity within the local construction market. I am actively working to get the youth engaged and involved in construction by working career fairs at local high schools and other opportunities to educate students on what a successful career in the construction industry can look like. I am passionate about getting diverse people involved by educating them in the construction field. want to work with other diverse businesses to grow their network which will ultimately grow their business. I also look forward to working with other firms and businesses within the AGC nation-wide to learn how others are increasing and promoting diversity so that I can bring those initiatives back to our local chapter and industry to implement.
Why do you feel Diversity & Inclusion is important to the construction industry and to AGC?
A benefit of embracing Diversity & Inclusion in construction is the ability to collect different perspectives and outlooks that increase creativity and improve problem solving. Hiring tradespeople with both strong construction skills and diverse backgrounds gives our firm a different mindset and multi-faceted approach to our projects’ needs.
Having an inclusive workforce on a construction site is also proven to drive a positive safety culture. In the construction industry, safety is the number one priority to ensure everyone goes home at the end of the day. According to a report published by the AGC, workers who do not feel included are more likely to have accidents, partially due to the increased psychological and emotional stress of being excluded. It is crucial to me that all of our staff and workers feel included not only to have camaraderie with each other but to also increase their safety on jobsites.
Please describe your work, either personally or professionally, in the areas of company culture, diversity & inclusion. How will your skills/experience further the work of the D&I Steering Committee?
I have been involved with and served as an advisor to the Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program (BIG STEP) which provides tutoring and pre-apprenticeship programming to increase diversity within the skilled trades. I was appointed to the City of Milwaukee’s Residential Preference Program Commission to align public policy objectives on publicly funded development to improve the hiring and retention of residents on construction projects. At JP Cullen, I had a hand in building and executing a mentor-protégé program which identifies diverse contractors in the Milwaukee area and works with them on all aspects of their business depending on what they need. I want to expand the program’s model for other AGC of Greater Milwaukee members. Being involved in these organizations, I can bring ideas and concepts to the D&I Steering committee to expand the diverse workforce.
First and foremost, increasing diversity is about providing leadership and commitment to the AGC of Greater Milwaukee membership and local subcontractors, but we need to also increase and improve our diversity within our own company. As JP Cullen grows our own diversity, we will make our organization better and serve our customers at a higher level. We are seeing diversity growing within our clients’ organizations so it is important to us that we have people on our team that can relate to our clients.
What else would you like readers to know about you?
In the construction community, even though we may be competitors, we all want to perform at a high standard by providing quality buildings and projects to our clients while doing it safely. I think it is awesome we all want that, and it shows on our jobsites. We all strive for what is best for our industry and that starts with the people. I am thrilled to be a part of the Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee so the AGC can continue to identify and hire a diverse force to best serve communities.
I have enjoyed teaching scheduling and subcontract management classes through Prism Technical, a Milwaukee based construction consulting firm, which aims to increase the inclusion and success of underrepresented firms, residents, and disadvantaged populations in the public and private sector.
I believe education about opportunities and careers within the construction industry begins at the high school level. I have attended many job fairs at numerous local high schools to educate students on how beneficial a career in the construction industry can be. I also work with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee to educate and train kids in high school to help them get a start on their career.
Diversity and Inclusion is an extremely important aspect to the AGC of America and the construction industry to hear all different perspectives. Reach out to me via email, Shannon.firstname.lastname@example.org, to discuss how you can increase diversity on your jobsite.