Are you looking to expand your talent pool by recruiting women in construction? You've probably heard that there is an untapped source of top talent in this sector, but know that investing effort into hiring female staff won't be without its challenges.
In order to diversify your workforce and make sure your recruitment process appeals to women, it's important to take guidance from those who have navigated the same hurdles before.
So for National Women in Construction Week, we spoke with industry-leading females in construction who shared their best advice on how businesses like yours can recruit more women into male-dominated fields. If you're struggling with this skilled labor shortage and want to actively recruit more female employees - these women have you covered.
Low Female Representation in Construction: Causes and Consequences
As of 2022, women make up less than 11% of the construction workforce. Despite the size of the industry and its profound need for workers, women remain significantly outnumbered by their male counterparts.
This underrepresentation is attributed to many factors, including a lack of recruitment efforts and a culture that has historically been male-dominated.
According to Lisa Kalsbeek, owner of Reliable Heating and Cooling, "Women need to see more women working in the construction fields in all positions. I work hard to encourage those doing it already, but make sure to mention the trades as a job where female insight is not only missing but necessary."
Encouraging and supporting women to pursue careers in construction is essential for the industry's growth and to overcome the labor shortage.
Geraldine Anello, Founder of the Handy Women Facebook Group with over 410,000 members, agrees saying “[Women] oftentimes thought they were alone with their skill. They didn't know there were so many other women out there doing it. So first and foremost, in order to recruit more women in the industry, creating that sense of community is crucial. That helps women feel safe, feel welcomed, and stay in the long run.”
By creating a sense of community, providing access to resources and training, and emphasizing the importance of inclusivity, businesses can create an environment that is more attractive to women looking for careers in construction.
An Employee Experience that Appeals to Both Genders
It's possible to create a welcoming atmosphere for female workers by being mindful of the challenges they face when entering a male-dominated field. This means tailoring your employee experience to support a more diverse workforce.
When you're entrenched in the day-to-day, it's easy to overlook how much of an impact your employee experience has on the gender mix of your team. Review everything, from the recruitment process to your daily operations, and think about how it might be perceived by both genders.
Anello weighs in on this matter saying "What are some things currently in place that would prevent women from joining? Are schedules given the day before or the week before, preventing mothers from having a stable schedule with their children? Are the expectations strict around last-minute time off, preventing women from taking care of a sick child? Anything currently in place that is actively making it hard for women to join is a barrier to entry. The solution lies in changing those rules for everyone now so that it's possible for a more diverse workforce to join."
And improving the employee experience benefits both genders. Not only does it result in a more productive and enjoyable work environment, but it also makes your company a more attractive potential employer to everyone. Even outsiders to the industry — who might look at blue-collar careers with skepticism because of the decades-old stigma.
Stephanie Smith, Vice President of Marketing at Newman Tractor, highlights the importance of company culture and growth opportunities to attract candidates regardless of gender, "We’ve been very blessed that once a candidate learns more about our company culture and the growth opportunities, the conversation is less about blue-collar barriers and more about the rewarding career opportunities that are ahead of them.”
Encouraging Women in Construction: Don't Assume, Ask
Do you ever feel like your abilities are being judged before you even get the chance to prove yourself? Unfortunately, this is a common experience for many women in the trades.
Maisha Christian, Owner & Head Coach of Beauty & the Boss, LLC, points out that these assumptions can be detrimental to a woman's career in construction. In her own words, "So often decisions about people's careers are made when they are not in the room. People may make assumptions about our physical strength, mental grit, availability to travel, or willingness to relocate without ever asking us. Those assumptions can undermine and hinder someone's career in the short and long term."
Asking questions, having open conversations, and understanding the unique strengths a candidate brings to the table can overcome preconceived notions and create a level playing field. Read more of Christian's thoughts on hiring for diversity in this article.
Kalsbeek agrees, “Women can do much more than answer phones. Women have that necessary skillset to confidently communicate, and explain things well before proceeding with work, and completing tasks over expectations. There is so much space in the industry for industrious women.”
Get Buy-In from Male Workers by Showing the Benefits
Increasing diversity in the construction industry is essential for growth, but it can be challenging to get buy-in from the male workforce.
Anello suggests that showing tangible benefits can make a big difference "What's in it for those men? If they know that having more women on staff can mean the difference between being forced to have a 12-hour day versus going home after 8 hours or having one more pair of hands to do the heavy lifting rather than working that back too hard again, those are concrete examples that can make a big difference.”
If you can communicate the benefits to your male workforce, you'll be more likely to have everyone on board for including more women in the trades.
Recruiting Women in Construction: A Targeted Effort
When it comes to recruiting more women in male-dominated industries like construction, it's important to have a strategic approach. Smith explains that their most effective strategy has been targeting the right candidates:
“Honestly, the most effective strategy we have found for recruiting more women to our organization has been targeting candidates who meet specific traits, those who have grit, and grace, and are excited about the potential in each opportunity we present. From there it is really about listening to any concerns a candidate might have, addressing their concerns, promoting our workplace culture, and showcasing successful female leaders within our organization to help candidates see themselves in a similar place."
At Team Engine, we believe that when women are empowered to succeed in the construction industry, everyone benefits.
If you're looking for more inspiration, check out this blog where we profile some of the amazing women leading the charge in blue-collar industries, or read this article from Linda Ratner exploring two sure-fire ways to recruit a winning team.
And when you're ready to recruit more women in construction, Team Engine can make it easier! With our software, you can identify highly qualified candidates who match your job requirements and get the right people in the door faster. Get a free 7-day trial today!