At Intelligent Partnerships, we constantly look for innovative ways to impact the workforce and ensure that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies are positively affecting the workplace. As a leading DEI provider, Intelligent Partnerships has designed multi-level approaches to inclusion. In the construction sector, one vital way that we continually strive to guarantee a fair and inclusive work environment is through the crucial role of our Field Compliance Specialists.
The role of Field Compliance Specialist was designed to deliver real-time DEI data capture, in-person verification, and compliance reporting. The creation of this role has been successful in revolutionizing the way employers and employees work together on-site.
Intelligent Partnerships' dedication and commitment to DEI policies are changing the way modern workplaces approach elements of inclusion. The impact Field Compliance Specialists have on and off the job site demonstrates the value IP provides to both clients and workers in the construction sector. Field Compliance Specialists are integral to our service delivery model at Intelligent Partnerships. This position enhances our ability to provide valued clients and partners with reliable and certifiable data to ensure that projects are meeting and exceeding goals and expectations.
To understand the importance of a Field Compliance Specialist, we sat down to interview one of Intelligent Partnerships leading specialists, Alex Coll.
Alex is a PLA/CWA Administrator & Field Compliance Team Leader. He has worked for Intelligent Partnerships for over 2 years and has helped pioneer change on job sites by providing an active voice for the workers. Currently, Alex oversees building projects in Seattle, Washington.
What exactly is a Field Compliance Specialist?
A Field Compliance Specialist is a person who goes onto a construction site and verifies that everyone is being treated fairly. My job is to talk to the workers. Our main focus is to make sure that workers are being provided everything promised to them as well as making sure they are sticking within their scope of work.
Walking the job sites and talking to the workers is probably the most important part of our job.
What is a typical day in the life of a Field Compliance Specialist?
On a typical day, I get to work around 6:30 AM. I usually have a little time to review paperwork before heading to the job site. Every morning, the crews get together for a gathering called a Stretch and Flex. In this meeting, they go over the previous day and report on any new information.
After the meeting, I get to see all the workers. There are typically 20 to 30 workers in a crew, so it gives me a chance to go and talk to them and ask questions like: Is everything good? Do you have any issues? Is there anything I can do for you?
The morning is a perfect time to get information about what's happening on the job site and it's also an opportunity to meet new workers. If there are new workers, I ask them to complete a survey that allows us to learn who they are and it helps us ensure they are being paid the appropriate wages. After that, I go back to the office and complete some paperwork and I process the surveys from new workers.
When my morning meetings and desk work are done, the really fun stuff starts because that’s when I get to go out on the job site. On the job site is when I walk around and check out all the work going on. I used to be an electrician so it's fun to be out there and learn who's doing what and get familiarized with the workers.
The goal is to familiarize myself with the workers to the point where I can give them a thumbs up and they know why I am onsite. It's all about building a rapport with the crews.
How do you support Apprenticeship as a Field Compliance Specialist?
We're involved with Pre-Apprentice programs for different trades. We get informed of any new Pre-Apprentice graduates, and we keep track of all the Pre-Apprentice programs or graduates that are on our job site. It's a goal to have Pre-Apprentice workers come on the job site because they are basically receiving on-the-job training.
What that means is that they get a chance to learn construction and decide to be something like an electrician or a plumber, and then they get funneled into that system. My job site actually has several Pre-Apprentice graduates. It’s a huge opportunity for a lot of those workers because it used to be really hard to get into the unions. It used to be all about the people you knew.
Now, it gives people an opportunity to train at something and when they get to the Apprenticeship program they already have experience and knowledge compared to someone coming off the street.
How do Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies and practices implemented on-site help the work environment?
It's great because there's not as much division and there are more diverse faces. It doesn’t feel like it's a 'good ol’ boy' school situation. There are all kinds of races out there and all types of people on the job site.
Diversity is getting better and better in the Construction Sector. I've noticed an uptick from more Hispanics and African Americans, especially up here in the Seattle area. There are also a lot more female workers, which is really good. I can tell out on the job sites that all workers feel like they're part of the team, and there's not a lot of exclusion.
I've seen crews with five people, five different backgrounds, and five different ethnicities. It's super cool to see all the opportunities that having DEI policies provide. For some of these contractors and workers, it’s life changing.
What are the biggest barriers to entering the construction career for underrepresented populations?
The biggest barrier, I would say is a language barrier. It's hard enough learning a different language, but learning construction jargon makes it even harder.
But it's also just taking the risk. A lot of people are hesitant to get into construction because they think they're going to be doing hard, heavy labor all the time.
A lot of it is heavy labor, but it's not just that. It may be overwhelming, but more and more people are jumping at the opportunity. They see that it's a good living. They see that they're not going to be in the same place and doing the same things every single day. It's going to start becoming a huge plus at some point because a lot of people don't want to be at home anymore. They want to get out and still earn a living wage.
Why do you think it's important to have a Field Compliance Specialist on a project?
A Field Compliance Specialist is there to help. Once you build a rapport with the workers, that's when you start getting information about what's going on within the company and you get little tidbits that help you.
We get a lot of compliments from different laborers, the Labor Union, and operating engineers because since we've been on-site, we've become an asset for the contractors and the laborers.
What does the future look like for a Field Compliance Specialist?
The future is bright. There's so much work. It's such a fun thing because you're involved in so many different aspects. You're involved with the workers, you're involved with management, you're involved with the trade, the unions, and business agents. It covers so much and there's plenty to learn every day.
The more that we show our skills and what we do, the more people are going to want Field Compliance Specialists on job sites.
People recognize that Intelligent Partnerships really does have Field Compliance workers on-site checking on the laborers. The workers know we're out there, they know what we're about, and they appreciate us.
I think the field for this job is going to just go up. I feel really privileged and lucky that I'm on the ground floor and one of the first ones.