Best Practices

PGTI One Pagers provide quick guides to a growing list of issues related to increasing tradeswomen in apprenticeship and careers in the trades.

All of PGTI’s Best Practices have been tested and proven effective by our labor, contractor and owner/developer partners on our Targeted Projects. Effectiveness is assessed by increases in women’s hours as a percent of total hours at both the project and subcontractor level.

Effective Best Practices have been collected and are periodically updated in our easy to use manual, Finishing the Job Best Practices v.9 .

Finishing the Job is a “How To Manual,” organized as a set of stakeholder checklists for Construction Owners and Developers, Contractors, Subcontractors, Building Trade Unions, Training And Apprenticeship Programs and Community-Based Organizations.

Project Labor Agreements and Community Benefit Agreements

PGTI’s Targeted Projects include both PLA-governed projects and non-PLA projects. Women’s participation is higher on PLA projects. The 2015 report from the Special Commission on the Use of Project Labor Agreements in Road, Bridge and Rail Projects found that PLAs “prevent cost-overruns, encourage the timely completion of projects, and avoid potential labor disputes.”

The UMass Boston Project Labor Agreement provides a model for a PLA that emphasizes diversity and specifically increasing women’s workforce participation. Article III-A of the UMass PLA describes the Access and Opportunity Committee that will monitor the project for workforce diversity. Model language is available here.

Community Benefit Agreements (CBA), project-specific agreements between developers and community/labor coalitions, are also a method of ensuring greater workforce diversity. The Construction Careers Handbook from the Partnership for Working Families provides helpful background on this approach.

Additional examples of PLAs and CBAs are available here.


Quality union-affiliated pre-apprenticeship programs provide a gateway for women and low-income area residents, particularly in underserved communities, to access family-sustaining careers in the construction industry through apprenticeship preparedness training and advocacy. Massachusetts has four union-based pre-apprenticeship programs.

Building Pathways, Inc. serves Greater Boston and provides leadership for programs across the state. Community Works serves the Western MA; Building Pathways Worcester serves Worcester and Central MA and Building Pathways South serves the MA South Coast, the South Shore and the Cape.

Build A Life That Works– a pipeline to opportunity in the trades for women

Tradeswomen Tuesday Boston 2020For women, the road to good jobs in the construction trades begins with the knowledge that the jobs and training are available and access to the male-dominated networks into the industry. Build A Life That Works provides that access. Through their Tradeswomen Tuesday information sessions and close follow up with career seekers who have the basic qualifications for construction apprenticeship, the Build A Life team points women toward doors that open and careers as tradeswomen.

Workforce Disparity Studies

Since 1989, courts have required “disparity studies” when public efforts to redress past discrimination are challenged by opponents to affirmative action. The Review of Disparity Studies and an overlooked problem is that the studies focus exclusively on business disparities and ignore gender and racial disparities in the workforce.

Using a unique method, PGTI has partnered with Prof. Sofya Aptekar to conduct Construction Workforce Disparity Studies for municipalities and public agencies that are seeking the data needed to increase gender and racial diversity among construction workers. Examples of completed studies and contact information to learn more are available here.

AOCs – Liaison committees for continuous monitoring by stakeholders 

Access and Opportunity Committees (AOCs) are known by various names but they are all multi-stakeholder monitoring groups that meet regularly to enforce workforce diversity compliance. The job of an AOC is to closely review compliance data and implement corrective action plans for contractors and subcontractors that are failing to meet legally and/or contractually mandated targets for women and people of color in the construction workforce. 

Detailed examples of AOC presentations and data reports, evidence of monitoring effectiveness and sample language are available here

Continuous monitoring is a proven method of improving women’s participation at the construction project level, and was cited in the Mass Gaming Commission’s best practice report as a “cornerstone” of their strategy and their success in meeting achieve diversity goals on two casino development projects.

Download our One Pager, AOCs: Best practices for monitoring project workforce diversity.

TAKE ACTION!  Five game changers

  1. Communicate the business case
  2. Collaborate across stakeholder groups
  3. Set high targets, report and monitor
  4. Make tradeswomen visible
  5. Lead from where you are

Additional Resources

PGTI One Pagers provide quick guides to a growing list of issues related to increasing tradeswomen in apprenticeship and careers in the trades.