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Showing innovation in the construction sector can help attract top talent

The construction sector is hardly seen as a hotbed of innovation, attendees at “The Marketing Event,” a one-day conference on 7 November 2014 in New York were told. Opening presenter Tom Scarangello of the firm Thorton Tomasetti went on to say that this can make it hard to attract top talent.

I can see that -- while investment banking, Silicon Valley and management consulting seem to be fighting over who can look best to the best and brightest, the Built sector (architecture, engineering and construction) is far from the front of the pack. So, I think it’s partly up to marketers to help market the Built sector as a good career track.

I think that marketers can do a great deal towards presenting the Built sector as innovative, positive and contributing to a better planet. As a case example, consider the Evergreen Brickworks, a former quarry and brick operation in Toronto. For many years it  was an eyesore and brownfield. As the image above shows, it’s since been reworked as a cool, happening kind of tourist attraction complete with farmers’ market and a retail emporium at which everything costs at least twice as much as it should.  

The Brickworks isn’t “innovative” in the way a fitness app or smartphone can be. But the fact that the developers created something positive from a negative, and won a Canadian Brownfields Association “Brownie” for their work, points out to the innovation possible in this sector.

Marketers can do their part in pointing out the innovation possible in the Built sector.

Looking to the solid waste sector for innovation

As a case in point, consider an industry with a reputation even lowlier than that of the Built sector -- the solid waste industry. Likely, in all of recorded history, solid waste has never been seen as an occupation of choice for high achievers.

Yet managing solid waste is increasingly seen as a pressing concern for society. In response, the sector has made huge strides in diverting waste from landfills towards recycling, composting and in other ways reducing the impact of solid waste. Many of the sector’s efforts have been around educating people not just how to dispose of waste, but  how to reduce the amount of waste in the first place -- and working with manufacturers to improve the recyclability of their products.

An article I worked on recently for a client pointed out how, if the solid waste sector can position itself as “green,” it has a better chance of attracting and retaining employees.

Even better, it can show itself as innovative in areas such as the recycling of asphalt shingles into roadbuilding materials, and organics into compost that improves food productivity.

Pointing to the positive contributions of the Built sector

Taking a leaf from the solid waste sector’s playbook, the Built sector can emphasize the leading-edge, “green” aspects of its work. Conversations with people at the SMPS-NY conference pointed out that LEED certification has moved from “unnecessary frill” to “must-have” in many markets. There are big steps towards carbon-neutral, zero-net-energy and zero-net-water in buildings.

Marketers in the Built sector can point out the opportunities to do good for the planet, through being part of the Built sector.

Just my perspective…

And on a personal note, I’m really pleased with the way Global Reach is able to contribute, in its own way, to a better planet. I think of it as helping people with solutions to offer -- the firms we work with -- to connect with people who can bring those solutions to reality -- the people who read the articles we get published.

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