Providing Research and Technical Assistance to Union Construction Partners on Recruiting and Retaining Tradeswomen
As we have said at every PGTI meeting for 11 years, there is no silver bullet to crushing the barriers to women’s access to good jobs in the trades and to reaching the goal of 20% by 2020. But there are strategies, best practices and game changers that move the needle faster than others. Below is our most recent “one pager.” Adapted from the success stories of the Canterbury Rebuild in New Zealand –where women reached 17% of the construction workforce –and informed by our work in Massachusetts and the inspiring work of stakeholders in Portland, OR led by Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., the five strategies included in the Diversity Framework can be laid over all diversity efforts from pre-apprenticeship to monitoring workforce compliance and supporting retention. We believe these principles can substantially accelerate progress in opening the trades to women. Let us know what you think.
The Division of Apprentice Standards’ 2018 year-end numbers for Registered Apprentices demonstrated the increase in women apprentices in joint union programs that the industry has been feeling in the field.
- Over 100 women built the MGM Casino in Springfield.
- Over 300 women are working at Encore in Everett.
- The UMass Building Authority (UMBA) has three Access and Opportunity Committees (AOCs) monitoring diversity on its campuses and is planning a new one at UMass Dartmouth.
- The City of Boston has raised its target to 12% women’s hours.
The demand for tradeswomen has reached record highs in the state and the data shows that the joint apprenticeship programs have stepped up to address the demand over the past year. The full year-end 2018 report, including data on each JATC, can be downloaded here.
In the spirit of crushing the barriers to our goal of 20% tradeswomen by 2020, we would like to acknowledge the 14 JATCs across the state that increased the number of women apprentices in their program by greater than 20%.
Beginning in 1983, Boston’s Resident Jobs Policy (BRJP) required workforce diversity targets on all public construction projects and any private construction in the city over 100,000 sq. feet. The original targets were 10% women’s work hours, 40% “minority” hours and 25% resident hours. As of January 2018, the targets have been raised to 12% women’s hours, 40% people of color’s hours and 51% resident hours and the threshold for private work was lowered to 50,000 sq. Enforcement of the Ordinance has been weak, but over the past decade, labor and community groups have been engaged with the City to strengthen both the targets and enforcement strategies. In 2012, compliance data were put online and in 2016, data were posted in searchable and downloadable format.*
Accessible data have made it possible to examine the question of the impact of targets on the most disadvantaged population in the construction workforce, women of color. The data clearly show that women of color have consistently worked the majority of tradeswomen’s hours in the City of Boston for many years.
A review of historical data from before 2013 supports the conclusion that tradeswomen of color are working the majority of tradeswomen’s hours in Boston. The 2013 report on the implications of Boston’s resident targets, (Thompson, J, “No More Excuses”), found that, of the hours worked by tradeswomen who were also residents of Boston, 63% were worked by women of color.
We conclude that in Boston, Women First!—a strategy which prioritizes meeting gender targets– privileges tradeswomen of color and increases racial diversity in the construction workforce.
Download the PGTI one-pager “Women First! Gender diversity in the construction workforce increases racial diversity” here.
We have been working with our stakeholder partners for the past year to update Finishing the Job: Best Practices for Diverse Workforce in the Construction Industry. We are happy to announce that version 8 is complete and ready for your use. It is always available on the PGTI site under the Best Practices pulldown menu. You can also access it here: Finishing the Job Best Practices v.8 Oct 2018.
We would like to give a special thanks to our reviewers who added their own experience and edits to the document. Thanks to Lori Corsi, Maggie Drouineaud, Samantha Glatfelter, Jill Lacey Griffin, Jill Houser, Margarita Polanco, Liz Skidmore, Danielle Skilling and Mary Vogel.
Our goal now is to see these Best Practices integrated and operationalized at all stakeholder levels. Critical areas that drive change are JATCs, union apprentice programs, that are increasing the number of women being admitted into apprenticeship and contractors that are hiring more women and placing them on core crews where employment is steady and hands-on training is consistent.
The proof of the impact of these strategies is in the increasing number of women in the trades. Our gold standard for measuring progress is the quarterly reports on women in Registered apprenticeship. As shown in the chart below, the number of women in union apprenticeship has increased by 141 in 2018. The percentage of women is now at 8.37%, almost three times the national average. Way to go, Massachusetts!
This chart and a list of all union apprentice programs in Massachusetts with their participation by women and people of color is available for download here: Q3 2018 Current demographics of women and people of color: v 2 Current demographics of women and minority participants in Registered Apprenticeship Programs in Massachusetts