ST. LOUIS – This week, several of the biggest construction and supply companies in St. Louis came together at Harris Stowe State University to celebrate and promote inclusion in the workforce among minority- and women-owned businesses.

“Very few minorities run job sites, and we are changing that in St. Louis,” Sandra Marks, the senior vice president at Clayco, said.

Several of the city’s biggest construction companies are coming together for Construction Inclusion Week.

“You really have in this room, you have the major builders who have built most of the projects in the St. Louis area,” Marks said.

Companies that normally compete against each other are working together for one common goal: adding more diversity in the construction space.

“We feel like if we collaborate and work together, we can definitely get there faster,” Ralph Powell Jr., McCarthy Building Company‘s supplier diversity and community outreach program director, said.

Marks has been in the business for 35 years.

“We could really do a better job of building a more inclusive workforce by working together,” she said.

Construction Inclusion Week is meant to support and celebrate minority and women-owned businesses.

“It really is critical to the construction industry,” Powell Jr. said. “Diverse teams are more innovative, more collaborative.”

The event started three years ago and it’s bigger than it’s ever been. This year’s event engagement doubled from last year.

“We have to be inclusive, and we have to support the community that we work and live in,” Powell Jr. said.