The Province of B.C. and the BC Construction Association (BCCA) marked International Women’s Day today with the launch of the Builders Code, a comprehensive program that aims to address B.C.’s skilled labour shortage by reducing harassment, bullying and hazing on construction worksites. The Builders Code defines an Acceptable Worksite and provides employers with tools, training and resources to improve and promote safe and productive worksite behavior.
Led by the BCCA, in collaboration with the Province and industry partners, including the Industry Training Authority, WorkSafeBC, LNG Canada, BC Construction Safety Alliance, Employee Benefits Trust, Minerva Foundation of B.C. and four Regional Construction Associations (NRCA, SICA, VICA, VRCA), the Builders Code includes an ambitious “10×10” goal to have B.C.’s skilled workforce comprised of 10 per cent tradeswomen by 2028, a standard not yet achieved by any province in Canada.
The Builders Code expands the definition of construction safety beyond physical hazards to include stress or distraction caused by discrimination, bullying, hazing or harassment. A Builders Code worksite will seek to be free from behaviour that threatens the stability of work conditions including job performance, health, well-being, safety, productivity and the efficiency of workers.
At its core, the Builders Code seeks to improve the retention of tradeswomen who are working in B.C.’s construction sector. Project partners quickly recognized that to be successful, the Builders Code could not single out tradeswomen for special consideration. Every person working on a worksite is affected by stress and distraction caused by bullying, hazing and harassment.
“As a tradeswoman and also a construction employer sponsoring apprentices, I want to thank the Province and the BCCA for taking a leadership role in improving the culture on B.C. worksite,” said Mary-Anne Bowcott, owner and plumber at Sooke’s WestCom Plumbing. “All workers, men or women, deserve the chance to grow and thrive in their chosen profession. For too long, behaviour that isn’t tolerated elsewhere has been tolerated on construction worksites. Thankfully, employers will now have the tools they need to address such issues, and will see from top employers who sign the pledge that operating by the Builders Code isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.”
The Builders Code will be a valuable opportunity and asset for contractors looking for competitive ways to attract and retain skilled tradespeople at a time when B.C. faces a skills shortage of 7,900 workers, and when tradeswomen comprise only 4.7 per cent of the skilled workforce. Although women, youth, and other equity-seeking groups are entering construction trades at a higher rate than in the past, retention rates remain low. First year retention rates for women apprentices have anecdotally been estimated at less than 50 per cent. By comparison, first year retention rates for men are estimated at 70 per cent. Those contractors who lead the way in culture change will have distinct advantages.
The Builders Code pilot will highlight the business and safety implications of worksite behaviour and provide employers with the tools they need to improve retention. Employers can access no-cost posters and policies, training, and advice from experts with experience in human resources management, including mediation and conflict resolution. Contractors who lead the way will benefit from higher employee retention rates resulting in lower training costs and will gain a reputation for fair and equal treatment that will help them recruit skilled workers and market their business. They’ll also have the opportunity to be recognized via a scorecard and an awards program created specifically for the construction industry by the Minerva Foundation of B.C..
Reaching the 10 per cent goal will equate to adding another 9,500 women into the skilled trades in B.C.’s Construction industry. That achievement would be especially significant as it would effectively erase B.C.’s projected skills gap of 7,900 workers.
Throughout 2019, the Builders Code partners will continue to make equity and diversity a corporate leadership priority for construction employers, rolling out expanded resources and services in every region of the province.
The Builders Code is an initiative of the Construction Workforce Equity Project, funded by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training through the Sector Labour Market Partnership Program.
For more information about the Builders Code, please visit here.
Builders Code Partners:
- BC Construction Association
- Industry Training Association (ITA)
- BC Construction Safety Alliance
- Employee Benefits Trust
- Minerva Foundation
- LNG Canada
- Northern Regional Construction Association
- Southern Interior Construction Association
- Vancouver Island Construction Association
- Vancouver Regional Construction Association
These partners provide expert knowledge and unique abilities to reach construction employers and their workers.