BuildForce Canada has launched a series of blogs entitled Building a Foundation of Respect designed to help recruit and retain underrepresented groups in the construction industry by creating a respectful and inclusive workplace.
“The blog is a recruitment tool to help promote drawing women and underrepresented groups into the industry,” said executive director Bill Ferreira. “The blog is there to try and help promote change and to make the construction workplace environment more inclusive and respectful…and address some of the broader barriers that have been identified by groups we’re looking to draw into the industry such as women, indigenous people, immigrants and youth.”
The blog posts explore issues such as communication and behaviour and provide research tools and checklists to help recruit and retain workers with diverse backgrounds. Since last March, there have been 11 instalments, aimed at site staff, supervisors and leaders.
The latest blog post, as of press deadline, discusses diversity and inclusivity in the workplace and provides solutions and tips such as active listening, communicating assertively, not aggressively, overcoming bias and assumptions, focusing on “larger picture” issues rather than individual positions and trying to understand the reasons behind the positions people are taking, to name a few.
The blogs are put together with input from the project steering committee which is comprised of mostly women working in the industry from across the country, Ferreira said.
“One of the obstacles that has been identified is that often women in particular tend to find that the construction workplace can be a barrier,” stated Ferreira. “Some of this is a generational issue — the older workers that have been in the industry for some time have certain views and certain ways of doing things. It’s not that they are intentionally trying to be disrespectful, but they don’t necessarily appreciate that some of their comments or even behaviour may be disrespectful.”
The blogs are part of a larger initiative, he added.
An online tool is currently being refined and is expected to launch this year to address some of the behavioural patterns that have been identified as particularly problematic in recruiting and retaining underrepresented groups within the industry, Ferreira explained. BuildForce is working on the initiative with the Status of Women Canada.
“Our intention is to develop a tool that will allow supervisors to identify behaviour that can potentially be disrespectful that could impact recruitment and also retention within the industry and also suggest corrective measures,” said Ferreira, adding it is designed as a learning tool.
“It’s going to be very similar to our online training courses where you can log in and it will walk you through a number of different scenarios and allow you to basically exercise your judgement as to what you identify as being somewhat problematic or what kind of behaviour or action or activity you should take should you identify something that is problematic. Our goal is to help people self-identify patterns in their behaviour that are inappropriate.”
He added, “Part of the issue with recruitment is once you’ve had a bad experience in the industry people tend to talk about it and then they go back and tell their friends which discourages people from actually coming into the industry.”