Vancouver, BC – “We would like to believe that we have achieved some level of inclusion in our workplaces, but that simply isn’t true,” said IAM District Lodge 250 Directing Business Representative Walter Gerlach. “When representatives of BC Centre for Women in the Trades (BCCWITT) made their presentation to our delegates meeting earlier this month, they certainly opened a lot of eyes and minds.”
BCCWITT is a two-year pilot project aimed at increasing the retention and advancement of women in the trades through targeted supports and programs. “We’re not as enlightened as we would like to think we are,” said Gerlach. “We have a lot of workplaces that struggle when women in the trades work there and the biggest challenge we face is retention. Women are not made to feel they belong and eventually they simply walk away. The BCCWITT presentation by Coordinators Sandra Brynjolfson and Emelia Colman-Shepherd, highlighted educating our members about the challenges women face in male dominated workplaces.”
BCCWITT coordinators Sandra Brynjolfson and Emelia Colman-Shepherd address IAM District Lodge 250 delegates on lack of inclusivity of women in the trades and the bullying in the workplace.
“Our delegates were surprised to hear that 45 per cent of women in the trades were bullied in the workplace and that’s only the incidents that are reported, but many more go unreported,” said Gerlach.
The BCCWITT deals with the problems head on with initiatives that provide outreach and mentoring for women in the trades, including networking and skills building opportunities. It is developing a central data base for BC women in the trades. One of the key components is the development and delivery of the “Be More Than a Bystander program for men in the industry. This is designed to facilitate a culture where inappropriate behaviours such as discrimination, harassment and bullying are not tolerated. Another initiative is the outreach and support for employers, contractors, union and non-union organizations to facilitate the retention and advancement of women, including leadership training.