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BC Tradeswomen Society president calls for ‘real change’ to address systemic discrimination

Russell Hixson
BC Tradeswomen Society president calls for ‘real change’ to address systemic discrimination
PROVINCE OF B.C. — A tradeswoman works on a jobsite in B.C. Lisa Langevin, president of the BC Tradeswomen Society, criticized the province’s recent announcement of a new code of conduct to address the harassment of women in the trades.

Lisa Langevin, president of the BC Tradeswomen Society, was not impressed with B.C.’s recent Builders Code announcement to address the harassment of women on jobsites.  

The province, the British Columbia Construction Association, the Industry Training Authority of BC, where Langevin is a board member, LNG Canada and other stakeholders marked International Women’s Day on March 8 with the rollout of a new code of conduct for the industry intended to reduce harassment, hazing and bullying on construction worksites.

The Builders Code defines an acceptable worksite in terms of conduct and will supply employers with tools, training and resources to promote a more safe, inclusive and productive worksite, along with an “acceptable workplace pledge” document for companies to sign and display.

“Its heart is in the right place in terms of moving forward, but my concern is that we already have laws against that. The laws aren’t stopping it, so how does a Builders Code do that?” said Langevin. “It seems to be just a marketing scheme. It will take a lot more than a sticker that companies get to put in their window. It’s going to take hard work to address this systemic discrimination in the trades.”

Langevin said she recently was told by the City of Vancouver, which in the past has implemented a gender equity strategy for hiring, that no women applied for an electrical position.

“I was able to say I personally know four women who applied and that means probably even more applied so don’t tell me no women applied,” said Langevin. “The person was caught off guard and didn’t realize I would have this information. The industry doesn’t want to admit that at the low level in hiring there is still blatant discrimination.

“Women in trades is something we have been talking about for decades. At this point it’s time to stop talking and time to implement some real changes.”

Langevin said the province’s Community Benefits Agreement framework is a good start to look closely at how to include women in major infrastructure jobs.

“We are going to go beyond talk and rhetoric to where women are actually getting employment,” said Langevin.

She also praised the BC Centre for Women in the Trades which offers diversity and inclusion training. It also offers the Be More Than A Bystander program which teaches men to not be silent when they witness women being mistreated.

In addition to presentations in high schools, the program is also offered to post-secondary institutions, workplaces, Indigenous communities and as a keynote or community-wide special presentation.

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