You may recall a story we ran a little while ago called “Labor Shortages and Ladies in the (Construction) Zone.” The story discussed the potential for women to come into the construction (or related) field in order to slow the increase in the number of job vacancies that are becoming an increasingly serious problem. After all, a crew with three people doing the work of six is a Worker’s Compensation claim waiting to happen.
Empower All Your Employees for Success
Some might argue that the lack of women in the construction field indicates a lack of interest, but women who have done the job say the problem is the overall culture that still seeks to exclude them. This is why organizations like The Association of Women Contractors exists.
Change, as they say, however, starts at home. So while it’s good that national groups are helping more women develop the skills they need to do well in their chosen construction field, there are lots of things you can do to ensure that your workplace is safe and that your female workers are able to really flex their muscles.
Whether you have a female worker now or you’re open to hiring one, here are a few ways you can build your dream team of the most qualified applicants, regardless of gender:
Don’t treat women on the team like “one of the guys.” That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be fair and give her the same respect you show to the other members of the crew, but you need to remember that she’s having a very different experience than your male workers, especially if she’s the only woman on the crew. Don’t give her special treatment – but do consider how the differences in her worldview can affect her outlook.
Do leave no question about sexual harassment. You may have told the guys to cool their jets in the past when a woman was nearby, but now you have a real live one on the team. There’s no room for “boys being boys,” this is your company and you’re a total pro. Any men who can’t shape up should be shipped out. Your female employee may go along with the crowd to avoid becoming a target, so don’t assume that because she’s not complaining, she’s consenting.
Don’t assume you know what she’s capable of. Sure, there are some people in the world that brag and swagger, even among the female population, but until you see how well she swings a hammer or paints a room, don’t assume anything. Treat her just like you would any new hire and give her a chance to prove her worth and abilities.
Do help her achieve her potential. Like every good boss, you want your people to succeed, regardless of gender. This is your opportunity to open your world to your new hire. She may aspire to become a Master or completing some kind of specialty training. Point her in the right direction and then reap the benefits of an employee with additional training that can demand higher fees from your existing customer base or even open a window to an entirely new opportunity.
Everybody Needs a Hand Now and Then
Remember, your female worker was probably educated in a world where she was pushed into home economics when she really wanted to take woodshop, so she may need a little help figuring out how to open doors to opportunity in the construction field. You can make a huge difference in her life and build your crew numbers back up by hiring women who can do the job.
Give that lady a nail gun and let her show you her stuff – she may well prove to be one of your best crew members.