Main Content

By Glen Williams, Director, Health & Safety, CLR

The goal of every workplace should be to create an inclusive environment, free of bullying, harassment, and violence. Unfortunately, women currently account for only 6% of all trades in the construction industry.  Over the years, many women have reported leaving the industry due to workplace bullying, harassment, and violence, and others have been tentative to join the construction industry for the same reasons.  Overall, our culture needs to shift to become inclusive to everyone, and it will take everyone’s effort to facilitate culture change.

Recently, I participated in the “Be More Than A Bystander” (BMTAB) Train the Trainer program facilitated by the BC Center for Women in the Trades (BCCWITT), which has the power to facilitate culture change towards more inclusive, safer and respectful workplaces in our construction industry. BMTAB training is a unique experience for participants. The facilitators begin by sharing personal stories, shocking industry statistics, and over the duration of the course, take participants on a personal journey that challenges their views on what bullying, violence and harassment is and explain how this behaviour has become part of our culture. As for the statistics, 52% of women have been sexually harassed in the workplace, 29% of women have been subject to non-consensual touching in the workplace, and a staggering 89% of women report taking steps to avoid unwanted sexual advances at work. Most women do not prepare for work as men do.  Could you imagine double checking what you wear before going to work through fear of sexual advancement? Or being fearful of entering a lunchroom as you expect harassing comments from your coworkers?  The BMTAB program creates a self-realization of how individuals allow inappropriate behavior to exist by remaining silent and provides tools to empower participants to move from being a bystander to a change agent.

Since 2018, BCCWITT has partnered with Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC), an organization that trains and supports approximately 300 anti-violence and cross-sector initiatives across the province that respond to sexual and domestic violence, child abuse, and criminal harassment, to customize the BMTAB program for the skilled trades industry. With support of the Industry Training Authority of BC (ITA), the program has expanded and been delivered across the province. This was initiated as a result of 2017 Enhancing the Retention and Advancement of Women in the Trades report, which found the retention of women and other underrepresented groups is significantly impacted by an unaddressed toxic culture of gender-based bullying and harassment in the industry.

Overall, we all need to be change agents to shift our culture and create an inclusive environment and the BMTAB training can be a catalyst for that culture shift.  Participants like myself who have completed the Train the Trainer program are equipped to deliver the 90-minute BMTAB program to other companies. If you are interested in the 90-minute Be More Than A Bystander training, CLR can facilitate when possible, or assist to arrange a trainer for your company. If you would like more information about the Be More Than A Bystander program, please contact Glen Williams, Director Health and Safety at [email protected]