As with any industry, integrating ethics into operations should be a top priority, and the construction industry is no different. Good relationships with partners, developers and subcontractors are vital when working on multi-million dollar projects. If any of these parties engage in unethical activities or building practices, it can be life threatening for both the workers and future residents. The construction industry generates a lot of revenue, which makes it an easy target for fraudulent or unethical activity. Some may be tempted to cut corners or commit environmental misconduct in order to speed up a project timeline and bring in more cash flow. At KWA, our corporate social responsibility is the foundation on which we operate. We are committed to creating beautiful and safe housing for every resident in our communities, without compromising our values, to maintain our reputation, relationships with developers and ultimately our own safety.
According to the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), there is a code of ethics that construction professionals should pledge to keep every project site a place of honest building. This includes obligations to the public, the client, the profession and the environment. When managers and everyone on the jobsite acknowledges and educates themselves on these obligations, chances of mistakes or unethical decision making severely decreases.
From the Top Down
Leaders should hold not only their team, but also themselves to the highest moral code. Employees from across all experience levels should be able to look to executive leadership as a model of how they should represent the company and conduct business. It is critical for leaders in the construction industry to be well versed in every law, trend and practice in which they operate. This gives them the resources they need to ensure they are abiding by law and leading a safe and ethical organization.
“It is my vision for KWA Construction to be a model for similar companies on how to operate ethically. Our reputation in the multifamily construction industry is what fuels our growth and it all stems from our corporate responsibility to be truthful, honest and ethical in everything we touch,” said KWA Construction President, Brian Webster.
Ethically Educate the Team
Ethical decision making is something that can be taught. This is crucial in developing a company that values doing what is right. Construction firms can set specific processes in place to negate any issues that may arise. When training a team, construction professionals should provide channels of feedback. This includes maintaining an open door policy, reviews, internal audits and situational advice that will help guide your team members to make smart decisions.
“Education and situational training is vital in succeeding in this business. Preparing your team to handle the unexpected can help negate any unethical situation,” said KWA Executive Vice President, Richie Keene. “At KWA, we ensure that our team is prepared for everything.”
As much as you can prepare to handle ethical issues in the workplace, situations will still arise that need to be managed. When a member of your team comes to you with a concern, it is crucial to act on it and have a clearly defined plan of action when a report comes through. This can include party interviews and written statements. A situation may even require external legal counsel, but it’s best to handle matters internally. This could include reprimand, an improvement plan or termination. By the same token, ethical decision making should be rewarded. This will act as an incentive and encourage the team to keep up the good work.
“As humans and as a company, we have a responsibility to do what is right,” said Webster. “At KWA we pour ourselves into our work so we can provide our clients with the highest-quality and ethically construction developments possible.”