When you think about a women entering the construction force a lot of people still automatically ask the question “Why would she want to do that?”
Let me tell you why, the construction industry boasts a wide variety jobs that have a higher average pay scale compared to most industries in Canada. If you take a look at the “Canada’s Best Jobs 2019: The Top 25 Jobs in Canada[i]” article by Canadian Business you’ll see that the construction industry is responsible for 44% of top career paths. Not only does the industry pay well but it also provides the opportunity for ample growth, a sense of accomplishment and career progression.
Next question, why does the industry need women?
Currently, women make up 47.65%[ii] of the entire Canadian workforce. When comparing this to the construction industry women are significantly lacking in numbers, we stand to represent about 3.9%[iii] of all field personnel (from skilled trades to management). With the boomer generation retiring, skilled trades are undergoing a labour shortage and high employee turnover it is now more important than ever to invest in to diversifying your workforce.
So how do we do this? How do we as an industry help welcome women into the trades? How do we display how awesome and rewarding these career paths can be?
Share your knowledge
When trying to decide on a career path in high school construction isn’t even a thought for most girls. It’s simply not marketed to them. You can post a girls picture in your company branding but that’s not going to get you anywhere. We need to start taking to initiative to be present at career fairs, speaking at schools, etc… If you have a female in your company, it’d be a good opportunity to have her share some of her experiences. Build a Dream is doing just that in Ontario, check out their website for ideas on how to expose the younger generation to construction.
Have diversity when making decisions about company culture.
Very few women hold executive positions in construction companies across Canada. It’s not often you see a women at the table when some of the big decisions are made in the direction the company is going. With more women entering the fields these numbers will grow but until then, involving women can provide fresh in site and help brand your company to provide a wider talent pool selection.
Open your doors
Showing people what you’re about can help break the stereotypes associated with construction. Although we have a long way to go, it’s not the rough and robust culture that is the stigma of the construction industry. Health and safety have become huge aspects of how a construction site is run. It’s no longer hanging off of beams 100’s of feet off the ground, it’s having a plan and going home safe. Showing people your company culture by inviting them into your offices and touring sites, whether it’s by camera or in person, can attract the right kind of people for your company. A great example of this is Ken White Construction’s YouTube and Instagram page.
As this transition of the workforce occurs there’s bound to be a lot of ups and downs as we figure out what works. The best thing you can do is listen to your employees and see where their needs fall. By helping align their needs with your vision you’re sure to have a successful jobsite.
All in all, I believe that working together and keeping an open conversations between all genders will help naturally grow and diversify our work force. We’re all working towards the same goal – making sure the job gets done – let’s do it in a way we can all benefit.
[i] Brownell Claire Canada’s Best Jobs 2019: The Top 25 Jobs in Canada [Online] // http://www.canadianbusiness.com. – May 14, 2019. – https://www.canadianbusiness.com/lists-and-rankings/best-jobs/canadas-best-jobs-2019-the-top-25-jobs-in-canada/.
[ii] Statistics Canada Labour force characteristics by sex and detailed age group, annual [Online] // Statistics Canada. – 02 27, 2020. – https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410032701&pickMembers%5B0%5D=1.1&pickMembers%5B1%5D=2.2.
[iii] Weikle Brandy Women In Trades [Online] // http://www.cbc.ca. – July 23, 2019. – 02 27, 2020. – https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/women-in-trades-1.5215384.