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Industry Perspectives Op-Ed: The actions of the few, affect the perception of the many

Giovanni Cautillo
Industry Perspectives Op-Ed: The actions of the few, affect the perception of the many

Why have the media and the people of Ontario so quickly vilified all construction for the recent debaucheries of an insignificant group of individuals?

Do you mean to tell me that everyone in society believes this is what transpires typically on a construction site?

Why have the decision-makers not stopped to think that the actions perpetrated that have blemished our industry were entirely those of that small individualized and non-representative group?

If these questions have not crossed your mind, then I would like to set the record straight.

By this time, everyone is aware of the incident in question. A group of about half a dozen individuals thought it appropriate to have a retirement send-off for a fellow employee, with an onsite “party,” including alcohol and a sex worker.

The very notion that this activity is commonplace and encouraged in our industry is so far removed from what construction stands for that I feel as if this is the setup for some childishly lewd joke. Unfortunately, this is not a joke, and the entire construction industry has to withstand the undeserved public scrutiny.

I cannot stress enough that construction, as an industry, does not, and will not, condone any behaviour of this nature. We vehemently condemn the behaviour of everyone involved and think this isolated action is beyond reprehensible.

However, in the court of public opinion, this one incident somehow thrust the construction industry, in its entirety, back to its often-maligned reputation of sexism, racism and other disturbing behaviours.

I want the public to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the vast majority of those employed in construction do not condone, endorse or, in any way, shape or form, represent the misogynistic troglodytes that exemplify this type of behaviour.

Let me give you some perspective to truly understand the scale of construction when I speak to it as an industry.

Construction in Ontario employs more than 500,000 highly trained men and women. Together, the vast majority of our industry is populated by proud and dedicated men and women committed to excellence in construction through technology, craftsmanship, leadership and health and safety. Their activities truly make a monumental difference in everyone’s lives each day.

These men and women ensure all of our societal needs are being met through all of the projects they work on. This translates to the places that we use daily. From our homes that we live in, to the roads we drive on to get to the offices, hospitals and schools we rely on, to the very water that comes out of our taps.

Construction delivers all of these services and more and does so with pride, commitment and purpose.

So, I can tell you definitely that this small group of miscreants is neither a proper nor accurate reflection of our great industry.

I can also say definitively that the company that employed these individuals did not condone their actions. Nor did the builder who employed that subtrade. Nor the developer that used that builder. Nor any of the engineers or architects that designed the structure in question. Nor any of the people employed by the municipality that issued the permits for that structure.

The entire industry at every level of construction is normally incredibly professional and typically holds each party in very high esteem.

So, this is why I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that all of the actions of those involved were not approved, condoned or even known for that matter, by anyone along the overall building stream other than this tiny and misguided group.

I also want to highlight the welcoming and collaborative nature of the construction industry. We all know that construction fosters camaraderie, teamwork and the individual contributions of all the people it employs that ultimately build Ontario.

Construction as a sector is dynamic and is ever-evolving. Our industry has taken concrete steps to foster diversity, equity and inclusion to increase the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups within its ranks. Over the last decade, construction has worked tirelessly to change the outdated stereotypical nature of an overly white male-oriented group to a vibrant and diverse group that encapsulates the diverse population of Ontario.

Furthermore, the construction sector leads with the health and safety of the workers as its foremost thought in all that we do. There is no way anyone in a position of authority would purposely endanger any of the workers by introducing or allowing alcohol or someone outside of construction onto the site. This is not only dangerous in the conventional sense but violates and needlessly goes against the strict COVID-19 protocols that all of construction has put in place to protect workers further.

Have I made my point?

In reading this, I hope you have gained a better understanding of how most of those employed in construction view this event. The isolated and small-minded actions of only a handful of people do not, and will not, define who we are and what construction stands for.

Unfortunately, the events of last week were the decision of only a few and should not be categorized as the reflective position and sentiment of an entire industry.

Should anyone wish to discuss how construction is working to become more inclusive and diverse, or if you require any assistance from the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA), please contact me directly.

More OGCA industry information can be found here.  

Giovanni Cautillo is president of the Ontario General Contractors Association. Send Industry Perspectives column comments and ideas to 

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