New DEI Task Force Aims for Cultural Shift in Electrical Trades

The National Electrical Contractors Association formed a DEI task force to promote a more inclusive environment, fill a growing skills gap, and expand the industry’s potential by attracting a more diverse workforce.

In response to the wave of protest and hard conversations about racial inequality that emerged in 2020, the National Electrical Contractors Association’s new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force aims to promote a work environment within the electrical industry that supports each person’s uniqueness.

“It is imperative that we work to identify how we can create opportunities and effect real change, not just at NECA, but across the entire electrical industry,” said NECA CEO David Long.

Addressing a shortage of skilled workers, which many other industries also face, will be a priority. Cultivating a more diverse workforce will help alleviate the problem, Long said, because many people, from all walks of life, are not considering careers in the trades.

“By ramping up recruiting and opportunities to a more diverse workforce—including women and people of color—we can help fill this skills gap,” he said.

The task force will develop deliverables—including education sessions and training modules, digital resources, surveys, and more—to engage NECA members and the entire electrical construction industry. It is made up of 20 NECA national staff members, chapter staff, and executives from member companies.

“We wanted the DE&I task force to be representative of every aspect of NECA,” Long said.

The association chose task force members who have demonstrated a commitment to DEI, he said, also taking into consideration what each person brings to the table in terms of their life experience, their work, and their background overall.

Associations in a variety of fields—from finance to journalism to sports—have launched similar efforts. Long has a few topline tips for organizations tackling this difficult issue:

  • Think specifically about what your association can offer and where its strengths are. Where can you make real, actionable change and influence the entire industry?
  • Focus on actions, not simply ideas. Diversity has been a buzzword in most industries for ages. Consider how you can turn it into a core value and what can be done to live up to it.
  • Consider your entire association—not just certain groups. There may already be more diversity among your members than you know. Think of ways to empower them and bring them into the decision-making process.

“I truly believe our industry can only be at its very best when we open our doors to everyone, regardless of race, gender, or anything else,” Long said. “If there are any roadblocks, even inadvertent ones, to empowering this talent, you are limiting how great your industry can truly be.”

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Lisa Boylan

By Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. MORE

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