Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

From the President: Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matter

Angie Simon 555x600We as businesspeople should care greatly about DE&I, not only because it is moral and ethical to treat people fairly and equitably, but also because it makes good business sense to create a strong DE&I culture. Creating an inclusive work environment increases productivity and invites innovation while reducing the risk of accidents. It also attracts top talent to our trade.

The Construction Industry has experienced some shocking incidences of racism that have pushed all of us to look toward a more diverse workforce. However, diversity without inclusion will not work. We have to educate our contractors, employees, and unions that inclusiveness is key to retaining a diverse workforce. Simply put, inclusion is something that does not happen on its own — we need to make sure everyone feels they are part of the team. When employees feel included and their ideas and feedback are appreciated, they will feel invested in the cause and more inclined to contribute. 

In a highly competitive industry like ours, it is imperative that we take the lead for all the trades by being the most inclusive, whether it is in the office, in the shop, or on the job site. In addition to our reputation, embracing DE&I has many benefits that can help your business’ bottom line:

  • According to a 2020 McKinsey study, companies in the top 25% for gender diversity are 21% more likely to have financial returns above national industry means, while companies in the top 25% for racial and ethnic diversity are 33% more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians.
  • Deloitte reports that when employees think their company is committed to diversity and they feel included, there is an 83 percent uplift in their ability to innovate. Innovation leads to better results. And results drive company performance and profit.
  • Our trade faces significant recruitment challenges over the next decade with more than 35 percent of our workforce aging out. If we can accept and embrace diversity and inclusion in our workforce, we will have an untapped resource to help fill this gap in the future.

Three Heads-1201685950 400x337SMACNA’s Board of Directors and the SMART’s General Executive Council have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, and we all agree that recruiting and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce with the skills to meet our needs now and in the future is our only path forward. Therefore, we developed this joint statement affirming our common interests and goals:

SMACNA and SMART recognize that diversity strengthens our workforce, benefits our communities, and makes the unionized sheet metal industry stronger and more competitive by reflecting the communities where we operate and the people we serve. To affirm our commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have agreed to develop, with the help of experts, a coordinated strategic plan with long-term and short-term objectives which will be evaluated and adjusted as necessary. Our unified goal is to shift the mindset of management, labor leaders, and our respective memberships to recruit, welcome, and retain the most competent and skilled workforce available while embracing differences in age, ability, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, national origin, language, marital status, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics that make individuals unique. SMACNA and SMART are strongly committed to take the necessary steps to achieve our goal of a diverse industry with no tolerance of bullying, harassment, or discrimination. We will provide regular updates on our progress on the strategic plan and on our continued work to promote our shared values of diversity, inclusion, and equity.

In 2021, SMACNA will work to help members understand what DE&I means for our industry through the development of programs and opportunities to engage and learn about the positive impact DE&I programs can have on our businesses. Together with SMART, we will make a difference in our industry and set an example for all trades in the construction universe.


Angie Simon, SMACNA President