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Compass Datacenters - SVP Nancy Novak's Insight on Encouraging Diversity & Inclusion in Construction

Meet Nancy Novak, Senior Vice President of Construction at Compass Datacenters and has been working in construction for many years, you can see her bio here. I first discovered Nancy through a LinkedIn post she shared back in February this year. I checked out her profile, immediately recognized our similar interests, and did what most people on LinkedIn do; I requested to connect and messaged her to be on the show. After many attempts to sync our calendars, we were finally able to connect and on April 22nd, we made it happen. Below is just a glimpse of our insightful conversation. Be sure to listen to the full episode by clicking on the player above.

Nancy cites that there is so much opportunity in the industry, yet few people know about it. She likes teaching children about this from a very young age and emphasized the lack of construction visibility at most school career days and the importance of educating teachers about the industry as well. I briefly shared Mike Rowe’s worse advice he got from his guidance counsellor, when he was in high school, back in 1977.

According to Nancy, there is currently a perfect storm of supply and demand when it comes to construction jobs. She explains why this has caused ideal conditions for driving towards more inclusion in the field. She discusses the fact that construction jobs are never thought of as STEM jobs because people don’t realize how fascinating the industry truly is and how construction allows for learning in so many different areas with the variety of skill levels involved.

After most of Nancy’s speeches given throughout the country she is very optimistic when men come up to her to ask how they can help females. Nancy gives her thoughts on the way that men and women view competition between each other and talks about the reasons that each gender stays in their positions. It’s a systemic problem, it's how we were raised. There’s much training that must be provided to both women and men on diversity and inclusion.

When we modify the testing so it is done in a way that focuses on attributes instead of giving a simple yes-or-no answer, we understand a person’s strength and it’s the only way to foster better leaders. About three quarters of finding success in diversity, stems from just having the desire to be in the field. Nancy says that when top management makes their company policies, they should be created in a neutral way and normalizing new actions will make them actually happen. Again be sure to listen to the full episode above.

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