Black History Month in construction: Michelle Goodman
For Black History Month, we spoke to Michelle Goodman, Building Manuals Manager at Winvic Construction Ltd, about her experience working in the construction industry.
As a woman and someone from a black, Asian and ethnic minority background, Michelle has an interesting perspective on how construction is changing and becoming a more diverse and inclusive place to work.
Can you tell us about your background and how you initially got involved in the construction industry?
Michelle: “I grew up in a Caribbean household living in South London. Nobody in my family had ever been to university, so it never crossed my mind as an option once I finished school. We moved to Milton Keynes in my teens and I started working in retail as soon as I finished school. I later did some courses at college which enabled me to start working in administrative roles. I’ve worked in a variety of industries from records management, finance, cosmetics and eventually construction.”
“Approximately seven years ago I started a role as Office Manager for a Mechanical and Electrical contractor, this was my entrance into the construction industry. I gained so much knowledge that has landed me the role I have today. After 30 years of hard work and perseverance, I now work for a main contractor, managing a team responsible for the Operations & Maintenance Manuals, Health and Safety Files and the final handover to achieve practical completion.”
Can you share some examples of projects or initiatives where you've played a significant role or made a positive impact on your team or company?
Michelle: “I predominantly work on our Multiroom and Civils & Infrastructure sectors. It’s exciting to see our projects come to life. One of the things I’m most proud of in my role is changing the way in which we provide our information. I drove the change to move from printed hard copies to sleek websites that house all the information accessible to our end users and clients. We now include some additional digital aspects to our O&M manuals such as videos and QR codes. It has made information easily accessible at the touch of a button.”
In your opinion, what are the advantages of having a diverse workforce in the construction industry?
Michelle: “The advantage of a diverse workforce is that you gain insight from different people and different backgrounds, they’re able to share views and experiences that others may not be aware of.”
Have you seen any positive changes or improvements in the industry regarding diversity and inclusion during your career?
Michelle: “We still have a long way to go, there are definitely small changes happening within construction companies, particularly in London, but we need to push this in more rural areas to promote the construction industry as a career path.”
How can construction companies and organisations better attract and retain talent from diverse ethnic backgrounds?
Michelle: “Construction companies need to target schools, colleges and universities to demonstrate and highlight the numerous opportunities and career prospects available within the industry. This needs to be conducted in areas where there are high numbers of children from ethnic minorities.
If people from ethnic minorities already working within the construction industry volunteer to go into schools and colleges to share their experiences, then this will encourage young people to consider choosing a career in construction. It’s more appealing when you see someone in a position that you’re aspiring to become.”
Feeling inspired? Share your stories of influential construction professionals today
If you’d like to highlight someone in construction who has been influential or inspirational for you, or simply share your experience of diversity and inclusion in the industry, please get in touch with Go Construct