How to Retain Women in the Trades

female surveyor, woman in trades

We are facing a labor shortage unlike anything we have ever known. More small and micro businesses are being started every day. The work-for-cash industry has grown to over 68.5 billion dollars in Canada, with residential construction being the largest contributor to that. 

Not only is it hard to find workers, once they think they have enough experience to go on their own, it’s even harder to keep them. 

Is hiring Women the Answer?

In today’s political and cultural climate, most would answer that of course hiring women is one great solution. But it does not always translate that way on site. Only 50% of women stick it out long enough to become Red Seal Certified. “Old school” attitudes and infrastructures are typically blamed for this: construction has traditionally been a man’s world, and it can feel like a slow industry to change and adapt to today’s needs.

What you can do right now for your current Women hires:

Most business owners know they need to make changes to retain women workers. But it can be hard to know what changes to make that will matter. There is a lot of information out there to sift through, but here are the most important areas to think about:

1. Fair wages

Be sure that you are paying for the position held by the worker and for the quality of their work. It does not matter who is doing the job! If the work is getting done to industry standards and in a timely manner, then pay the going rate.

2. Check your workplace’s attitudes

Unfortunately, most male-dominated workplaces still display poor attitudes towards women workers. Women are hassled, abused, ignored, and bypassed.  They have to work harder and get better results to earn less recognition than their male coworkers. There are now programs you can bring to your sites to help with this like the Be More Than a Bystander that is facilitated by BCWITT  for construction and trades companies. 

3. Provide appropriate equipment and facilities

Does your company provide PPE, coveralls or other clothing? Get it in Ladies’ sizes. Does your company provide washrooms? Make sure there are women’s only washrooms and that they lock! Does your company provide tools? Get ones with smaller handles, ladies-grips, and longer reaches whenever possible.

4. Most important: ask!

Make sure you make time on a regular basis to check in with your tradeswomen and ask how things are going and if there is anything they need. Do this privately so you don’t draw unwanted attention. Listen to what they have to say and give it serious consideration. If you cannot give them what they ask for, give them a reason why and, if possible, a plan of action to work towards it.

Did You Know?

Tradeswomen are much more likely to stay with your company if they are given the same opportunities and treatment as their male coworkers. That means equal in pay, benefits, types of work, opportunities, and in the day-to-day treatment of one another. Keeping employees happy, whether they are men or women, requires inclusion and development as professionals.

By using these tips and being aware of your workplace culture and gender equality, it is possible to retain your valued tradeswomen.

Contact us to learn about a simplified field management tool that also helps to standardize your team.