Women have been working hard to break through as leaders in the world of construction—and have made great strides. While the number of women in construction has hovered between 9 and 11% over the past 20 years, by 2018, nearly one in three companies had promoted women to senior roles.

Ajax Building Company employees on a project site wearing personal protective equipment.

But making change is difficult and often slow. With a community of believers in a shared mission and vision, progressive change starts to become viable—and even achievable.

That’s exactly the path that several STOBG builders are on as they work to establish a more robust program to support women in the construction industry. Take Ajax Building Company, for example. Ajax had launched several efforts in the past, but after joining the STO Building Group family of builders, they found they were able to tap into their wider network of resources and information to establish a more formal program for women looking for help navigating a male-dominated industry.

STOBG already had a national Women in Construction group that has helped set the tone within the industry, and that gave us a great model,” says Kasey Diehl, Ajax’s marketing director and executive sponsor of Ajax’s Women in Construction (WIC) chapter. “It has been an inspiration for us to get people involved, whether that be through mentorship, communications, or giving back to local women’s charities.”

STOBG started its WIC network years ago with a goal to help women within the company find opportunities for networking, career development, and charitable service to organizations with similar objectives. It has since grown into what Diehl calls a “village of peers” that truly helps the company set women up for success.

“If you’re on a jobsite where you don’t know anyone, and may feel like an outsider, we want to make sure that you are receiving the proper tools to succeed,” says Carly Diaz, a senior estimator at Ajax and chair of their WIC program. “We can take back to our group the resources and information we’re hearing from across the organization—like a roundtable discussion, or a Ted Talk, or specific experience that might be useful to us.”

Mentorship has been especially critical to both the Ajax and STOBG WIC programs. STOBG’s WIC network has established a formal mentorship program in which both men and women are paired according to skill sets and interests that may be most helpful to their career goals. “We have seasoned professionals within Ajax who have taken a mentorship role,” says Diehl, “but there’s also the option of reaching out to STOBG so that colleagues in other parts of the company can mentor some of our newer professionals.”

The growth of the program at both the local Ajax and companywide levels has certainly made an impact for Ajax. “We used the STOBG model to set up a formal WIC chapter that makes it clear that we are serious and gives women in our organization excitement,” says Diaz. “We are an organization that believes in providing opportunities for everyone, we are about becoming more diverse in our workforce.”

It takes a village to make an impact, especially a cultural one. That’s why leaders like Diehl are excited to see how beneficial and resourceful STOBG’s network can be for employees who may not otherwise have access to the same level of support. For Diehl, seeing employees succeed through this connected network gives her faith that the industry is not only making strides towards inclusivity but also offering every worker the success and support they deserve.

Ajax Building Company at groundbreaking ceremony

“The slogan of our WIC group is that things are changing. The world is changing. Our industry is changing. Efforts like the WIC network are really helping to elevate the volume of the female voice and to make sure that everyone can have a place in this industry.”