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CCA, WomanACT and SCWIST partner on Safe STEM Workplaces project

Angela Gismondi
CCA, WomanACT and SCWIST partner on Safe STEM Workplaces project

A new micro-lesson training series, called the Safe STEM Workplaces project, is being launched by the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) with the goal to foster safe and harassment-free workplaces, particularly within the STEM and trade sectors.

The CCA partnered with WomanACT and the Society for Canadian Women in Science & Technology (SCWIST) to offer the Safe STEM Workplaces project, a series of online, self-guided lessons that will be available through CCA’s integrated partner associations.

“There have been a lot of initiatives that have been put in place to try to attract and retain women and others both by our partner association and employers,” said CCA president Mary Van Buren. “We know we have to keep this effort up. It’s not a one and done to attract the next generation of the workforce. This is an important initiative and one of several that CCA has put in place to advance diversity, equity and inclusivity.”

The project aims to eliminate gender-based and sexual harassment within workplaces and improve workplace culture. Van Buren said CCA is pleased to be partnering with WomanACT.

“They are very knowledgeable, they have experience and they have a format of training that we think makes it attractive and accessible for people to participate and to learn and all at no cost, so really a win-win,” she said.

“This is a really important segment of our current workforce and our future workforce as well, so it’s really to help raise the awareness and to help prevent and respond to cases where there may be harassment or uncomfortable situations in the workplace.”

 

40 per cent of women experience workplace sexual harassment

The project is funded by the Department of Justice.

It aims to enhance prevention and response measures for gender-based and sexual harassment, indicates a release, adding it directly confronts harassment in workplaces, especially affecting women, with the goal of reducing stress, enhancing productivity and retaining women in these industries.

The issue of workplace harassment has garnered global attention, catalyzed by the #MeToo movement. Approximately 40 per cent of women worldwide experience workplace sexual harassment.

“Unfortunately it’s a reality in Canadian society and no different than our industry,” said Van Buren. “All of us, business leaders, the not-for-profit sector, we’re all becoming more aware of what some of those challenges are and then providing training for people who may be completely unaware that their behaviour is unacceptable all the way to the extreme end where it’s criminally unacceptable. It’s meant to build awareness and to help prevent these situations in the future.”

The interactive training program, which is offered in English and French, consists of essential concepts, practical strategies and actionable steps. Participants will learn about trauma-informed practices, procedural fairness, equity, the nuances of gender, sexual orientation and harassment. There are six different segments, with each taking 10 to 20 minutes to complete. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion.

 

Making sure it resonates

Ultimately, the entire construction industry could benefit from this type of training.

“The value for partnering with CCA is that we could get it out to more members, small companies and large companies,” explained Van Buren. “Small- and medium-sized companies don’t always have the resources to go and figure out what is the right training, what’s the right messaging, is it useful and is it appropriate for the industry.”

Four women from different firms reviewed the content to make sure that it was applicable to the industry, Van Buren said.

“They made sure that it resonates,” she said. “It’s for everyone who is working in our industry, whether it’s professionals, human resources, supervisors, workers, women, underrepresented segments. The basic principles are the same and so everyone can gain from taking these micro lessons.”

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