Eric: Is there racism in the construction industry? This is the question that I ask my guest, Henry Nutt.
Henry serves as the pre-construction executive for Southland Industries after serving as the sheet metal general superintendent for over 12 years, and he's been a member of Local 104 Sheet Metal Workers in Northern California since 1987. Currently, he sits on the Associated General Contractors of America's board of directors and is their current chair for Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee. Henry has deep experience with this question and he brings that experience and wisdom to the table in our discussion today.
We're going to talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion. We're going to talk about workforce development. And we're going to go straight at it—we're not going to mince words. We are going to explore the levels of discomfort around this discussion. I ask Henry, are we more racist or less racist than we used to be back in the day? What is the future in terms of diversity in the construction industry? What does it all mean? What is the business case for diversity? We try and dive into every aspect of it. [01:06.4]
Enjoy my conversation here with Henry. As I always say, feel free to share it with other people in the construction industry that you think would benefit from it. I appreciate his openness, his frankness, his willingness for some of the more direct questions that I ask, and I hope that this discussion will help you in your efforts to build a healthy, profitable construction company.
This is Eric Anderton, and you're listening to “Construction Genius”, a leadership masterclass. Thomas Edison said that genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. If you're a construction leader, you know all about the perspiration, and this show is all about the one percent inspiration that you can add to your hard work to help you to improve your leadership.
Eric: Henry, welcome to Construction Genius. [02:01.6]
Henry: Thank you, Eric. Glad to be here.
Eric: Henry, does the construction industry have a problem with racism?
Henry: Certainly. There is definitely a problem with racism in the industry, and I’ve been in the industry since 1987 and I’ve had my own share of unfair treatment by different classes of people. I didn't focus on it and just moved on, but it doesn't go away, and so there is indeed a problem.
Would I call the entire industry racist? No. Are there some significant issues that I think should be addressed that I think are happening today? Absolutely, and there are still many people that believe that others should not be a part of this industry or others should not rise to different levels of opportunity because of their race, ethnicity, and even gender, so absolutely, there is a problem with racism in this industry.
Eric: Okay, let's explore it a little bit and you can give specific examples if you want, but give an idea of how that racism is specifically manifested in the construction industry. [03:00.0]
Henry: You can look at images, job sites, pictures on walls, teams around the country, and you don't see different types of folks in those rooms and on those walls, and representing leadership even. You typically see white men that are in charge, and not to say that they didn't earn that right in some cases, but you definitely see lack of opportunity for others that also have the intelligence and all the things that they need to be in those spaces, but tend to not have the opportunities that others do based on connections and networking, and just how things have worked over the decades and years in regards to who you know, so there's a class with people that tend to be on the outside of those opportunities.
I believe that we are seeing opportunities arise and more impactful, and people are making intentional decisions to try and impact that and mitigate that group of folks that still are on the outside. That's part of the work that I do. It's part of just bringing a voice to it, just talking about it. It’s some of the most important things we can do, these discussions and dialogue. [04:12.4]
Yeah, again, there is definitely an issue, and when you look at it from my time of being in this industry for 35 years, I’ve experienced it. I’ve had people laugh at me when I went looking for work and made it very clear I was not welcome there. That happens and it's happened, and it still does happen, for sure.
Eric: When we have these discussions, people immediately, not every person, but people get uncomfortable about it and immediately people's dialogue starts going on in their head. Right? So, when you bring up that idea of, let's say, the boardroom is mainly white males in construction, generally speaking, from my experience, that's pretty true.
The response of someone, let's say, I'm a white guy who started my construction company 15 years ago, and who did I hire first? I hired someone that I knew and trusted and they happened to be white, and now they're in a place of leadership with me. [05:04.5]
I may be not intentional about this at all, but because just like when we buy things, we buy from people we know, trust and like, so too when we hire people and we develop a company, we do so with people that we know, trust and like, and it's not necessarily an intentional thing. It just happens.
When someone says that to you, how do you respond to that in terms of this idea of the whole picture of diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Henry: Yeah, it's a great question, Eric, and I think it's something that we have to dig into as well. I sat in a group, talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion in construction probably seven years ago in a room, and I had to kind of break the audience up and say, “Hey, you know what? I get that you're comfortable hiring someone that looks like you or from your community. I'm not mad at that. I do the same thing. I think all of hiring somebody that's your buddy to run your company or partner with you, yeah, you have the right and you shouldn't feel guilty about that as any ethnic group.” [06:04.8]
I'm not coming at people in that way. What I'm saying is that, for the folks that say things like, “I don't see color,” typically, it's because they don't have to see color. It's never been an issue for them. It's never been something that caused them to not have access, and so when other folks come in that necessarily are not from that class or look differently, or different gender, they don't have that access necessarily as easily as others do.
One of the things that we have to do is recognize, when we talk about inclusivity, how are we being intentional about looking at our surroundings and looking at the diversity, or lack thereof, within our groups and within our companies and saying, are we doing something to mitigate this? Where are we recruiting from? Do we always go to the same places? [07:00.0]
The other part of it is just, when you talk about diversity, I always think about diversity of thought, and how do we get a holistic point of view on objectives, plans and strategies, if all we do is go to the same group of people? Somehow, along the way, we've assumed that that group of people have the best ideas because they come from the best schools, in our mind, because they come from a certain class or a certain community that they somehow are the standard.
I believe when folks who are working in this space diligently and trying to just move the needle in the right direction, it's not about guilt. It's not about trying to make someone feel bad about who they are and what they do. It's about recognizing that, many times, we have tunnel vision because it's been done for so long that it's sometimes hard to see that your attention is directed only to one group, and so there's a level of comfort. I get that. [07:58.5]
But you know what? It's about not necessarily your comfort anymore. It's about recognizing that there is a plethora of other folks with talents and skills that you may need. Specifically, now when we think about construction and all our industries, really, that have a shortage of labor, we really have to be intentional about who are going to be sought after. Who are we looking for?
They're not necessarily going to be in those groups, so we're going to have to get creative and figure out, how do we help our people see past the stereotypes, see past our conditioning, see past the things that our are biases and things like that that hinder our ability to recognize talent, to recognize talent in other groups of people?
So, it's just that. It's being able to have this vision that is cast that sees more than themselves, and if you've been conditioned just to see yourself, just to get someone that looks like you, that's been your comfort, that's been where you go, we're saying we need you to look broader—and that doesn't just happen because you say it needs to happen. It happens because you do some work on your own self and recognize that, when you say you don't see color, again, I want you to see color. [09:12.4]
I want you to recognize that there is a rainbow of different people out there and they all have their capabilities to bring to the table. That's what I want you to see. By you telling me you don't see it, it means that you say that you're blind to it and somehow that excuses you or that, hey, you're okay because you don't recognize me as a black man. I am a black man and every day of the week, and other folks that have their own what they bring to the table. We want you to recognize that. We just don't want you to take who I am and somehow place me in a box because of what you think that’s true about me, and that's conditioning and that's the mindsets that we have to really attack and address, and educate people on. [09:54.5]
Eric: We've got this sort of title, “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” right? What does that actually mean? Because it's one of those corporate things. Again, people get kind of squirmy. I don't know about you, but most of the guys I know in construction are kind of entrepreneurial folks and they're not really corporate types, and so when that corporate stuff starts coming down the pipeline, they immediately are skeptical. What is diversity, equity and inclusion? What do you mean by that?
Henry: Yeah, I can understand that, Eric, and how it can just become a phrase that means nothing or means everything, and you just don’t know what it means.
Henry: Obviously, just when you think about the word “diversity”, it's recognizing that more than one way of thinking, there is a group of ideas, people, scenarios that exist, and that diversity is really important to whatever you're trying to accomplish. We don't want one frame of thought. We don't want one aspect of an idea. We want diversity. We want a plethora of things that come to the table that help shape whatever you're trying to do as a collective. [11:00.0]
When you think about diversity, you shouldn't just think about color. You shouldn't just think about women only or that you think about just diversity of thought, and it stems from experiences and backgrounds, which are all rich and important to bring to the pot.
When you think about, “equity”, this is a challenging word because some aren't ready to adopt what that really means and it's saying to someone that, although we are both say in a community and we come to work, what we bring to the table or what we have the capability to perform has been hindered by certain scenarios that have existed. Not saying that they are our fault, but those things that have happened to us that don't give us-- not just about being equal, but it's about recognizing that there's something that has been missing because of the classification or because of racism in some cases. [11:54.8]
If you think about going back to even slavery, and I remember having to share a story with someone that said, “Why does that matter? We're all equal now,” and you think about having 400 years of enslavement and how that has impacted a whole group of people, you’ve had a head start, and so that it’s not equitable to assume that we are at the same place in the race essentially.
If we're talking about running the race, there's been some hindrances placed on different people that didn't give them the fair shot that others have had, and so we need to have equity, not handouts, but equitable ways of bringing people to a level playing field because it's not level, and that's really the key. It is to recognize that the playing field is not level.
Again, it's a very complex conversation to have with people because you assume that, hey, we all have a fair shot all, I’ve pulled myself up from my bootstraps and my grandparents did this and that. You know what? I can talk about my great-grandparents who were slaves. Did they have a fair shot in passing down wisdom, information and business ideas to my generation of people that would empower me over the decades of century? No, it didn't happen that way, so there's no equity in that. We have to really recognize that. [13:13.8]
Again, it doesn't mean I want to take away what you have. It means that what I deserve with my own hard work many times gets bypassed, so we have to be intentional about what that looks like when you talk about equity.
Eric: This is what I want to explore with you here, Henry. You're making a sort of a twofold argument here. One is a moral argument, and then the other one is a business argument. I'm hearing both strands in it. I think what's interesting is that I ran into a couple of my clients this week, long-term clients, these guys are the whitest guys you've ever met. They're not sophisticated white guys, right? They're guys who started their company and they had a truck, and they had their belts on and they've grown into this massive company.
They pull up to this golf tournament and this other guy gets out of the truck. Another guy pulls up in one of their trucks, brand new truck. He's Spanish, Mexican-American, Hispanic, and this guy is one of their key executives, okay? I was reflecting on that. I was thinking, how come he's in this leadership group with a bunch of white guys? I'm like, white guys. [14:14.6]
I was thinking about the reason why. It’s because he's like a bridge to all of the people in the field, a way of bringing the thinking of the Mexican-American and Hispanic folks that are in the field, bringing that into the boardroom so that they can understand that and process that, and he has a really strong contribution to make. But it's not just because he's Hispanic, but it's because he's a baller as well in terms of being really good at this job.
I think when we're talking in the realm of business, people begin to feel uncomfortable when a moral argument is made, because they can buy into the moral argument. I mean, no one would ever say, “Henry, what you are saying about African Americans and slavery? What are you talking about, dude?” If someone is saying, “Just get over it,” or something like that, that's obviously stupid, right? It's stupid. [15:00.0]
But at the same time, when I'm thinking about running my business, isn't it just legitimate for the CEO of a company to say, “I understand that, but this is business, right? This is my business. Why do I need to bring a moral argument into my business? I'm just here to build good projects and make money, and I don't care who it is, I want the right people in the right position regardless of their skin color or anything like that so that we can build a successful company”?
Henry: I get that and I know that business as business, and I understand that in my role, at the end of the day, it's about what I can help us achieve at the bottom line and that will always be true. But we live in a space now where, again, when you talk about one place which is where we're doing our work, where we're building some of these large massive projects, and having a significant labor shortage.
I think I’ve run across so many different people that lead companies that are part of the hiring-and-firing group that recognize that we have to do something different, if we want to bring these people in, in how we campaign and how we create outreach and those types of things. [16:05.6]
Many times, we're going to go in those communities where you have marginalized people and you have to figure out ways of how to outreach and recruit in an effective way, and you can't do that without recognizing some of the stories. You can't do that effectively without recognizing some of the hindrances and obstacles that exist and why they exist.
Does it mean you need to become a student of that community? Yes. Does it mean that you should get fully indoctrinated into the whole scope and understand all the moral issues? No. But if you want to, it's like using good judgment and wisdom in how to be more creative and effective, capturing people that you need to do the work that you have.
It is intertwined to some degree, and no one is asking anyone to come in and save the world and come down to this community and do all these things, but we are saying that it's important that you recognize what the hindrances are so that you can be more tactful or more strategic in your approach. If you come in there blindly and then quickly get turned off by what you see without understanding the why behind it, then it's easy just to dismiss it as a problem. [17:16.4]
Eric: What are you referring to there specifically? What are you referring to there, when you say come in, but when there's stuff behind it that is influencing you? Tell me what you're referring to there?
Henry: You come into a community where there is a high poverty rate and there’s the lowest, high school dropouts are high. There is just the depravity within the community and you're going to build something there, and you have an owner that decides that, here, here's we're going to build a major hospital, but here are the statistics that we’re up [against]. How are you as a company going to come in and impact, not only do a great job for us, but help this community transform in the part that you can contribute towards that in a meaningful way? If you have no idea about what you're coming into and you're going to just go in there as business as usual, you're going to fail. [18:03.6]
I'm speaking specifically of a job that I know of that that's happening currently and, one, it's creating this opportunity for a huge partnership between the owner, the general contractor, and all the trade partners involved to do something that's very different and unique to impact the community beyond some of the things we've seen in regards to effort with outreach, partnering with small diverse businesses and things like that.
Eric: Excellent. Let me just back up here. Do you think there's a difference in the construction industry between the way that Hispanics are perceived and the way that African-Americans are perceived?
Henry: When you think about Hispanics and Mexican-Americans and, generally, the type of work that you see that class of people doing it, it is generally in the laborers, it’s masonry, all right, and you can just assume and people can just kind of create a stereotype of “Oh, that's what they do,” right?
Eric: Right. [19:00.5]
Henry: When you look at African-American folks, it's not necessarily one group that's spotty in different areas, where I think you even hear, unfortunately, jokes about when you think about Latin folks that work in that industry that have been hard workers and just would do some of the work that others won't do, and that that's a true statement. Then you think about folks that look like me and just assume, “Oh, what is this? They're lazy,” and that we don't want to.
In some cases, there are some people obviously that look like me that are lazy, but does that mean the whole class of people should be considered lazy? No. But there's been also media and different things that can kind of shape that image that people can just begin to assume based on the things that they've seen versus doing their own homework or having their own experiences and say, “No, that's not true.”
Yeah, there are definitely some differences there and I’ve had some folks that talk about some of their own struggles in regards to how we work together and even sometimes come at odds towards each other, and recognizing how that is just so detrimental to the overall cause that we're trying to have. [20:03.3]
Eric: What is the difference between a company that kind of fronts on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and a company that actually does it?
Henry: One is that you're going to look at the people that work there and the capacities that are being covered by “Is it diverse or not?” whether it's leadership or whether it's middle management, then the folks out there actually performing the work, that there is an intentional effort to make sure that there's representation of the community that they're working in or the industry that they represent, and there is work being done. There are people that you can pull and say, “Hey, how is this going for you?”
Not that they're perfect, right? But it's really about a meaningful, intentional effort to address the issue of diversity, equity, and inclusion, in a way that resonates with the people that work there, who they work with, how they partner, what they're allowing, who they're allowing to become the spokespersons for their companies that probably have more impactful ways to outreach than just using the same folks and wondering why you don't have the impact that you need. [21:09.3]
Again, that's where diversity of thought and experiences come into play, where if you don't have that, you're somewhat lost and you can be easily frustrated and say, “It doesn't work well. There are some other things that you can do.” When it's just a commercial, it's very apparent when it's just something that you really haven't bought into. You're trying to check a box and you have a couple titles that represent that, but, really, they have no power to do anything in their companies. They're just more like images there to say, “Hey, we're diverse,” and so we go hire for this and you have kind of like a token almost, right?
That's easily detectable, especially when, again, you are assigned on a project to do something meaningful and you're completely lost, because you really haven't done your homework, you really haven't been intentional about the training, the development, the education that's required or partnering with people that know it better and then allowing them to do it that support you. [22:05.0]
Eric: Let me just ask you then, let's say I own a construction company. From a business perspective and even from a moral perspective, I buy what you're saying, Henry, I want that diversity of thought. I don't want to be blinkered to the opportunity to hire people who can enrich my company, both from a cultural and a financial perspective.
You know what, dude? I just don't want all the corporate crap that people just hate, in the sense of “Here is a program. Here’s another program. If you don't do this, you are a bad person.” Okay, I do want to do it. I do want to embrace this. What are some first steps that I can take as far as this is concerned?
Henry: Working with I'm on the steering committee for AGC and to the D&I Committee and the DEI Steering Committee in California for AGC, and there's an assessment tool, and it doesn't have to be through AGC, it can be anywhere, but an assessment tool that will basically kind of give you an idea of who you are in regards to DEI. It's going to measure the workplace. It's going to measure your workforce, your community outreach and your vendor relationships. Those are four components that kind of depict who you are in this journey and where you're-- [23:18.4]
Eric: You can repeat those four again, please? Repeat those four.
Henry: You're going to be measured in the workplace, people in your office and the team that you have, your actual workforce, the people that do the work out in the field, your outreach or community efforts, what you're doing there to engage in the community, and then your vendor relationships. Who is supplying your product? Are you partnering with small businesses? Things like that.
That's one way. It’s basically taking a step to say, “Let's figure out how we're doing,” and recognizing that it's not meant to cast a shadow or negative depiction about your company or who you are. It's just giving you a snapshot of “Hey, you think you're doing well. According to the data, you're not. Here are some recommendations that you can do and some next steps,” and this is what the assessment, the agency assessment tool will do. It will give you that information. [24:09.8]
It’s free for members. Then if you decide that your score is not where you want it to be and there are some recommendations that we would make for your company, then there is a fee into “Now, what do the next steps look like?” You can take that information and you can hire a consultant, you can go and do whatever you need to do, but at least you have an idea and you can do it in a very holistic way, and not attempt to do it too fast and check a bunch of boxes and so to say, “We did this.”
It's really an organic kind of transformation, but it has to be something that leadership first signs off on and essentially blesses to say, “Yes, we're going to do this,” where you're going to have genuine transformation at every level. But it's not going to happen overnight. You're going to have people who resist, just like anything else that you do that comes in the form of an initiative. You're going to have folks that resist, in some cases, people who decide they can't go with you and you have to decide beforehand how you would handle that. But I think that's where you're going to get some impact. [25:12.8]
Culture of CARE is another one that comes out of partnering with AGC. That's a campaign that really helps to create just that, whether it's in the workplace, a job site, or in your own office where you're going to create a culture of care that has a sense of creating a sense of belonging for people, a welcoming environment, and really trying to retain and empower people. That's kind of the acronym for the CARE part of that campaign.
That's had a lot of impact in that we have many hundreds of companies around the country that have taken that pledge and individuals that take that pledge, and there are toolkits that you can take to help educate and have a discussion. The biggest thing really is just talking about it and that's sometimes the hard part. People think they have to solve all these problems with these initiatives, when sometimes it's just having a conversation, a real one, but having a conversation. [26:08.0]
Eric: Let me ask you this. You've been in construction, what, three decades now at least?
Eric: Are we less racist or more racist from the time you started to the time now? What do you think?
Henry: That's a tough question.
Eric: I’ve got to ask the tough questions.
Henry: Keep that up, . The reason that I say that it's tough is because I think there's a place in time when people rather just keep their opinions to themselves. You would only know by certain actions and you really couldn't always pinpoint it. Then you have different groups, where in different parts of the country, it's very open. It's very blatant, that “I don't like you because of your color of your skin” or whatever.
Now that we're having these dialogues and we're having this conversation, and it's kind right in our face, some of it is driving people to that “I'm going to now pronounced and be even more clear about why I don't like you,” and then you have folks that are trying to rally and support. [27:05.5]
My hopeful side, the hopeful side of me, the optimistic side of me is saying that it's getting better because we're having more conversations, but the more conversations we're having, we're also experiencing that resistance towards it, so I'm not sure if it's better overall, but I think we're in a better place because we're no longer hiding behind it. We're no longer just not talking about it and pushing it under the rug. We're actually confronting it, which is important, and I think some of the most important work we can do is not disguise it, but to really confront and address it.
I tell people this all the time. I am not trying to change you as a person. I'm trying to help you to see different points of view, different perspectives. You can take home what you want and do what you want when you go home. What you're going to do at work is going to be different. You may never change. It may feel like it’s compliance to you and maybe that's what it'll be for some, but that's where it is and that's fine, because it's not overall fine, but it's what we have to do and deal with and accept that some people won't change and that's okay. [28:15.7]
Some will have to just be compliant because they don't want to lose their job or be sued, and then if you can conduct yourself as a professional and bite your tongue and just work and get along with folks, then maybe that's all you'll do.
Then there are some who genuinely transform and say, “Wow, you know what? I never realized that. This is a part of me that I didn't think that was this. Now I recognize through education that, yeah, I had some biases that were a hindrance to others. I'm going to do something different about that.”
It's all different stages of where people are, and, again, we're not going to change the world and every person in our place of work, but we can definitely confront and say that this is not acceptable anymore. We're going to do this at our company and that's how we're going to decide to move, and that's important for me. One of the most important things we can do is confront and no longer allow it to be something hanging in the back and you don't deal with it. It's just important that we do. [29:10.8]
Eric: Let's pan a little bit to this idea of workforce development, because that's something that's very much a part of what we're talking about here. Tell me a little bit about this idea of community outreach. That's sort of the tip of the spear in terms of workforce development, because that's where you're sourcing your talent. Then, obviously, when you bring the folks in, regardless of where they're from, you want to train them, you want to retain them, you want to develop them. What's the difference between a good workforce development program and one that falls short of expectation?
Henry: Easy. One that succeeds is they do their homework. They recognize what their partners, which are their contractors, what they need ultimately in regards to people. They are helping to produce people, one that can pass a test, whether it's coming in a particular trade and what that pre-qualification is to enter the trade. If there are tests, they're prepping them for the tests. They are teaching life skills. They are recognizing that they're producing people that are ready to come to work on time, that have a good attitude, that show up ready to work every day, just the basics. [30:15.4]
It may sound really simple and basic, but really it's not, because you get people that don't show up with those types of qualities and they really create problems for themselves. Good programs recognize that, as a partner with contractors or asking these contractors, “What's important to you?” and they're actually working on those types of things.
It's really, again, to bring people that are ready to go to work, day one, and as we partner with them, we help them. We help identify some of those questions and answers, and qualities that we look for. We partner in a way where you're part of their team and you do workshops, and you stop to talk to their students and you answer questions, and you tell them what it looks like, what a day in the life looks like, what gets me fired day one, what helps me stay employed, and just really giving them some basics and they get answers, ask a bunch of questions. [31:13.2]
It's really getting engaged with them as well and they allow you to get engaged with them. They understand it's a true partnership, so they're not operating in a silo as an organization. They really are connected to the folks that are going to take their people on.
Eric: It’s interesting to me. What advice do you have for a young person entering the industry, regardless of their background? What advice would you give them in terms of how to succeed? And how would that advice differ if you were talking to a young man or a young woman who is African-American and coming into the industry? Would the advice differ in any way? [31:49.0]
Henry: Actually, it wouldn't differ at all and I say this to groups of people all the time and not specific to even a gender. It's just universal. There are three things that I think, and I mentioned it, you ask any superintendent, any general foreperson that is running work, what's important to them. Show up on time. Somebody that is going to show up on time every day. Someone that's going to come to work with an attitude that they're ready to put in the work and then they're going to listen to whoever their bosses are. You're going to show that kind of respect where you don't come in thinking you know more than me and you've got two weeks of experience and I’ve been in it for 25 years. It's very simple.
The thing that is important to recognize is that this is how the trades have evolved over decades. It’s that you recognize a kid that is worth your time and you want to pass that information on to this next generation, and you kind of bring that person under your wing and you’d be like, Come here, kid, I'm going to show you how to do this and some tricks of the trade, and that person and that individual grows and develops and becomes your next leader.
We still want to do that. We still want to pass that information, and so we want to make sure that we're investing in them. We want to make sure that we're going to get our investment out, and so if you're coming in late, and this happened a couple weeks ago at our company and our shop foreman hiring people, and when some of the people coming in ask questions like, “How many times can I be late before I get fired?” [33:11.8]
That's a real question and, unfortunately, that person lasted maybe a day or two because they were late multiple times, and that's a thing of understanding the respect and disrespect that that creates when you decide to show up and you're like, Oh, it’s only five minutes late. Five minutes? Let's multiply that by how many days of the week, how it impacts the other part of the crew. It's bigger than what you think.
You say those types of things. That's what you drill home with these folks and say, “This is what you absolutely have to do. This is what will get you fired, day one. Do the basics, and if you can show that, then we will rally around you and help you become a better craftsperson in whatever craft you're in. We'll do that willingly because we want to invest in you, but you have to be worthy of our investment no matter who you are.” And that's really important. It has nothing to do with color or gender. It’s to show up and be ready to perform. [34:08.0]
Eric: And I know, Henry, that you have a book that deals with these topics and other topics. Can you tell us a little bit about that book?
Henry: Yeah, thanks for asking, Eric. I have written a book that I’ve worked on for actually probably 10 years. It's only 86 pages long, but it took me a long time to finally just convince myself it was worthy of publishing, and it's called Seven Principles: Creating Your Success in the Construction Industry.
It deals with some principles that I inherited from my mother and father growing up and just some basic things in how to conduct yourself at work, how to have a right mindset when you show up to work, how can you become your own worst enemy, recognizing just some basic things that, again, I would say, are common, but as we know that they're common sense is not common, and so those are the reasons why I did it. [35:02.8]
I put it on the shelf and stopped writing it because I felt like everybody knows this, but as I spoke to different pre-apprentice programs, I recognized that I'm saying the same thing to a group of 40 people every quarter for 10 years and it's like rich information for them, and so I decided to put it in a book and say, “Hey, take this, use it as a manual.”
Then, it also has another kind of purpose, which is maybe to help some of the old-school leaders that have used different tactics for years that have worked, but now they don't necessarily work. We have to kind of transition on how we treat people in our industry and construction needs to take on a different image and not be in just this tough guy kind of world where others can't survive, because we need people to get in our industry, and not only get there, but stay there and make it a career or make it a viable career, as you're thinking about college or thinking about this for your life that you would consider construction as a viable option and not just an option “because I can't go to school somewhere.” [36:13.4]
It's really recognizing that this is a way to live and have a great living, if you decide to do that, and you should not be shamed for deciding to go down the path of construction.
Eric: That's excellent. The book is called Seven Principles: Creating Your Success in the Construction Industry. We're going to link it in the show notes to the Amazon page where you purchase that book, so we'll definitely do that, Henry, and I really appreciate you taking the time here.
Let me just ask you this. Do you think, in the United States of America, we're ever going to have to or we'll ever reach the point where we'll stop having this conversation on diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Henry: Yes, but it'll be not in my lifetime and probably not in my kids’ lifetime. Programs like this, Eric, and questions like this, for those who decide to listen, for those who agree or disagree without saying, by no means do I consider myself a practitioner, but I consider myself a person that cares a lot about this and willing to take a stand and say, hey, let's do something different. [37:11.0]
We’ve got a long way to go, as we can look at news media and different things that happen around our country every day to say, man, it could be discouraging. But I am encouraged because I make a chance. I take a stance on this and choose to have dialogue, not there to try to instill fear and guilt and all types of things. Just want to have a dialogue and I think that's important, and if we continue doing that, I think we can be more impactful with this, having a conversation with people.
Eric: Let me just ask you really bluntly, do you think younger generations are less racist or more racist than the older ones?
Henry: Definitely less. I think we can look at who's dating who and just see -
Eric: Yeah, right.
Henry: - this group of people that just choose each other because they like them. They don't think about what they should or shouldn't do and “they don't fit my criteria,” and you have this generation of folks that are definitely living their own lives and part of it is because they've seen us live our lives in a certain way and they're like, I'm not going to be like that, and so you have to accept whether you like it or not. [38:11.6]
But I do believe, today, this generation has more opportunity to break some of those barriers down just because they're different than us and they are more accepting, and they've been kind of pushed together in working in communities and having different aspirations with life than we've had. We were rigid and we were told where we should and shouldn't be and why we shouldn't do things, and they're kind of breaking those barriers and saying, “I'm going to live my life to way I want to,” and that's prolific for us to see and sometimes uncomfortable, but, also, I see hope there in saying that this generation is not going to fall prey to some of the things that we have fallen prey to and we're really going to get better with that.
Eric: I appreciate your time here, Henry. This has been super insightful. Other than the link to your book, how else can we get in touch with you? [39:01.0]
Henry: You can get in touch with me through my emails, firstname.lastname@example.org [Henry Nutt III @ yahoo.com] or you can get in touch with me through Southland at email@example.com [HNutt @ SouthlandInd.com].
Eric: That's great.
Henry: And I have a soon to be website coming up. Yeah, lots of opportunities to connect and, hopefully, I will hear from you.
Eric: Awesome. Awesome. Henry, thank you for joining me today and I really appreciate your time.
Henry: Thank you, Eric. Appreciate it. Take care.
Eric: Hey, this is Eric. Before you bounce, thank you for listening to today's episode. In the show notes, we're going to have a link to Henry's book on the Seven Principles: Creating Your Success in the Construction Industry. I want to encourage you to buy that book. It's based on his experience, and so it's something that you can learn from and also communicate to the people in your organization.
Please give us a rating or a review wherever you get your podcasts. We are growing this podcast. We are almost 200 episodes in. We're actually over 200 at this point, and we're going to keep going. That means that we're going to provide value to you as a construction leader every single week. My ask of you is to share the podcast with others to give the rating or the review wherever you get your podcast, and that will help the podcast to continue to grow. [40:18.0]
Thank you for listening to Construction Genius Today.
This is ThePodcastFactory.com