As the co-founder of the Women Construction Forum and co-host of the Women Talk Construction podcast, I’m diving into a topic that truly speaks to my passion — bringing more remarkable women into the trades and ensuring that they thrive. As Director of Business Development and Marketing at Hill Electric, I strive to do my part in helping shape the construction and electrical landscape to be more inclusive.
In the United States, we are making strides, with women comprising 11.5 percent of the construction workforce. Only 4.4 percent of the electrical workforce, however, is represented by women. Even fewer are owners of electrical companies. Believe it or not, these figures are the highest they have ever been. There’s much more work to be done.
Thankfully, we’re not alone in this endeavor. Electrical Contractor Magazine sheds light on the nationwide worker shortage: “One of the biggest factors leading to this increase is the pressing nationwide worker shortage. Overall, this has caused labor recruiters to look outside their usual hiring pool… U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced the ‘Million Women in Construction’ initiative… to continue to promote inclusivity by continuing to recruit more women into these high-paying construction trade roles.”
Concurrent with larger initiatives like ‘Million Women in Construction,’ there are smaller steps individual companies can take to make the trades an even more welcoming space for women. Smaller initiatives, such as introducing youth to construction camps and programs, can help build confidence and camaraderie between girls and boys. Corporate initiatives go a long way as well. I’ve listed a few key strategies below that should be part of any company’s priorities.
First things first: diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). A culture where every individual feels respected, valued, and has equal opportunities to thrive is crucial. This translates to fair chances for growth, robust support for professional development, and a workspace that nurtures every talent.
Prioritizing DEI creates more opportunities for everyone to grow. When we champion mentorship/sponsorship programs and avenues for professional growth, it’s not just about empowering individual women; it’s about creating a ripple effect that also elevates peers. It is vital to get leadership on board and track the progress with quantifiable numbers. Consistently reviewing metrics will determine if you are heading in the right direction.
Additionally, work-life balance is crucial. Let’s be honest — life happens, and oftentimes, women carry a substantial load of home responsibilities. That’s where we’re looking for employers who truly get it. Flexible schedules, remote work options, and family-friendly policies aren’t mere perks; they are the pillars of an environment where women can flourish both at work and at home.
It almost goes without saying, but safety is non-negotiable. Our workspace should be a welcoming place, void of harassment or discrimination. We are determined to ensure robust programs, clear reporting mechanisms, and a commitment to addressing any employee concerns without hesitation. Similarly, providing properly fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) for females is a must. According to OSHA, “PPE must fit properly to effectively protect the employee from the hazard for which it was designed.”
Recruitment strategies that prioritize attracting and retaining diverse talent will lead to a dynamic team. Whether it’s partnering with local organizations that celebrate diversity, school outreach programs, or dominating the social media sphere, we are here to show the world that women are a force in construction. Statistics show that adding more women and minorities will ensure that the construction industry thrives for years to come. This creates a more unified workforce, expands opportunities for innovation, and more.
Creating a Welcoming Workplace
I’m proud that Women Talk Construction celebrates stories of growth and diversity in non-traditional careers like construction and so many other career tracks. We are not just building opportunities, we are fostering a culture of learning, mentorship, and sponsorship. Together, my Women Talk Construction co-host Christi Powell and I are dedicated to creating opportunities where some might not even have known they existed.
Hill Electric is also committed to promoting diversity and inclusivity in the construction industry by providing trade-specific training and a supportive work environment to ALL individuals who are eager to learn. Hill Electric invests in our Workforce Development programs that improve our teams’ skills and knowledge of industry advancements, including lift training, electrical safety, and circuitry.
These principles can (and should) be applied to all trades. Creating a culture of inclusion, respect, and support is key to attracting and retaining females and often leads to overall business success. By taking proactive steps to address the unique challenges women face in the industry, you can help ensure that your workplace is a welcoming and rewarding place for all employees.
About the Author – Angela Gardner is Director of Business Development and Marketing at Hill Electric and Co-Host of the Women Talk Construction podcast, recently ranked among the 90 Best Construction Podcasts Worth Listening to in 2023.
This article was adapted with permission from an article Angela originally wrote for the Roofing Blog, published by Castagra Products, Inc. (July 2023).