In an effort to increase the participation of women, transgender and gender non-conforming workers in the construction trades, HELM Construction Solutions has released “Breaking Down Gender Bias: A Toolkit for Construction Business Owners”. The building trades have long been one of the industries with the lowest percentage of women in the workforce – as of 2015, less than 3% of workers in the Construction and Extraction trades were women. Data on the percentage of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) workers in the trades is not available. However, it is clear that many women and LGBTQ workers face bullying and discrimination as a result of sexism, homophobia, and transphobia in the workplace.
The downloadable Toolkit provides practical tools and tips for business owners on how to actively break down gender stereotypes and create companies that are inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations. Covering everything from responses to offensive comments to respecting an employee’s choice of pronouns, the Toolkit is designed to be easily accessible, not academic. It also covers how business owners can be more proactive in recruiting women, transgender and genderqueer employees, and support them after they are hired.
The issue of diversifying the building trades is not only one of equity, but it is also critical to meet a growing need for a skilled workforce. The United States is currently facing a huge shortage of skilled trades professionals, and this labor gap is expected to increase over the next ten years as the current workforce ages and fewer young people choose to pursue careers in the trades.