"Together we're building a construction industry that works for everyone." That's the tagline for the new initiative known as Builders Code. With the goal of improving the retention of women in the construction industry, instead of focusing on "diversity, equity and respect," the initiative promotes "productivity, safety and business success," according to Lisa Stevens, COO of the British Columbia Construction Association.
Stevens says the initiative, which is part of the Construction Workforce Equity Project, has a goal of reaching 10% of British Columbia's construction trades workforce being women within 10 years. The current rate is around 4.7%. A lofty, and likely, challenging goal.
Builders Code has also partnered with the Minerva Foundation to set employer diversity scorecards for assessment and planning as the organization seeks to establish a baseline code of conduct for the industrial, commercial and institutional construction sector in order to improve the retention of women, according to Stevens.
Builders Code isn't only focused on improving the construction industry for women. According to the website, the initiative wants to reduce risk and ensure a productive environment for all skilled workers in the construction industry. It wants to help construction employers communicate a "reasonable, consistent behavior expectation to improve the safety, productivity and retention of skilled tradespeople, and reduce project risk."
What does Builders Code offer? Free and ready to use equity policies, equity advisors, training and recognition.
I'm intrigued by this new initiative, and hopefully it will achieve its goals of making the construction worksite and industry a safer, more comfortable place for all construction workers. We all know that it's not just women that face prejudice and other issues in the industry.
There are many other associations, organizations and initiatives aimed at women in construction. But I like that Builders Code is focusing on creating an "acceptable worksite" — for everyone.
The construction industry is already fighting an uphill battle to shake off stigmas that are aiding in the labor shortage. We all know the stereotypical perception of construction workers and the stereotypical behavior they are often portrayed to have. It's time the industry steps up and says "This is not ok, this isn't who our workers are."
And if that is who your workers are, then it's time for employers and coworkers to step in and say "This is not ok." Yes, we all have freedom of speech, and we'd all like a workplace where we can feel free to be ourselves, but that should come at the expense of coworkers feeling that same comfort.
When it comes to creating this acceptable worksite and behavior, I think it needs to be viewed as both starting at the top and starting at the bottom. Employers need to embrace and enforce this concept. Of course, no manager can babysit all his or her employees every second of the day, but spending time (and frequently) focusing, reminding and talking about how employees should be have when on the jobsite can help.
And that's where the bottom up approach comes in. A manager may not be there to monitor behavior all the time, but there's usually at least one coworker around to witness behavior. Coworkers need to speak up when they see another coworker creating a workplace that is alienating, uncomfortable or even harmful for others. It's not always easy to be the one to step up, but typically after one person speaks first more feel empowered to follow. As the saying goes, "Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem." Hopefully, one day in the not so distant future, there won't be this problem anymore.
What are you doing at your construction company to stress acceptable worksites and worksite behavior? How have your employees reacted to these policies or initiatives? What more can we do?