Canadian Contractor
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YOUR VOICE last week: Only women need apply. What you said about hiring policies based on gender

"If a homeowner says they need all female painters, or me to be on site with my male crew for perceived safety reasons, I encourage them to call someone else"


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July 30, 2019 by Robert Koci

Last week in YOUR VOICE, we asked if it was appropriate for companies to market their commitment to hire only women to provide construction services. We received four comments in reply:

From: Ian at Current Electrical

That’s 100 per cent discriminatory. No company is allowed to discriminate, there should be no exception made here. If this was reversed, and the add read “women need not apply” the company would be all over Bashed in every social media realm out there. Sad but true, this is another example of how society is “ok” with advertising a negative point of view towards men. Listen to the news, look at programming on tv, the main male characters are now generally portrayed as goofy, clumsy, un-opinionated clowns or aggressive, fearful characters that offer nothing but “masculine toxicity” to the equation. Rarely treated with any respect by the children, wife, girlfriend etc. I come from a family with two sisters (one older, one younger) and have a wife and two children (daughter and a son). I whole heartedly believe in and agree with equality. If you’re the right person for the job, the position should be yours. What’s happening out there right now has nothing to do with equality, it’s just discrimination in a different package. This company should receive the same response as any other company advertising like that. Sorry to rant, but sometimes you just have to say things like they really are. Keep up the good work.

From Dave

Mine says that we only employ white people. lol…

Being serious about this though. I’ve employed women and I found that generally speaking, though people pay lip service to wanting women included in construction, in reality when women showed up the female homeowners often did not appear to like it. I also have a lot of clients who are lesbians, not sure how that came about, maybe just word of mouth. But even the lesbian women seemed to prefer having a man do the renovations.

My own experiences of working with and employing women is that it makes for a more pleasant work environment when male and female on site, often women are more detail oriented but overall not as strong or as willing to put up with the harsh conditions.

Victoria Williams at Campbell-Williams Ltd., Whitby, ON

I am a female electrician. I have a master license and run my own company. When I first started the company I had people tell me I should really market the woman thing. I do get comments here and there by clients that they would trust a woman more, but I don’t believe in marketing an all woman company. I have three male employees now and they are the best ever and I’m very proud of them and wouldn’t want anyone else. They are the best for the job–not hired just because they are female so I can market them. Can you imagine if a company marketed all males and that no women should apply?!! Equal rights, honey. I don’t even think this should be allowed. You may as well say ‘all white electric’ in my opinion–see how far that gets you.

I have seen a couple of companies try to advertise the ‘all women’ thing and it has not flown.  In my experience, people hire based on referral of another trusted individual that your work is good, and not because of gender.

From Suzanna Geerlinks at Refined Painting, Guelph, ON.

Hey there,
I am a female owner of a painting company as well. I have been in business for 14 years and currently have seven staff including summer students, both male and female. We work in high end res new builds/ high end residential renos and the commercial and institutional markets. Last year we won the Business Excellence award for businesses under 50 employees at our local Chamber of Commerce. My parents were general contractors and I have worked in the construction industry my whole life.

Early on in my company many people assumed i would only hire women. Although I do think this is a brilliant marketing idea; one that could be run with quite far, it is not the path I chose. I have had female staff, and have always had male staff. Early on in my company we were doing a lot of commercial work and only small amounts of res-re-paint. Commercial appeals to me as that is what I grew up with, but it is hard to find women who are interested in working on a commercial site over a res-re-paint.

I hire for character, then competence and chemistry. I have had many potential hires work along side my current staff who report back to me if they are a good fit. I have chosen not to hire many due to character issues that come out immediately. I work hard on our corporate culture; our values are clearly defined and we have a ‘no asshole’ policy. This means my staff are vetted to be upstanding all-around good people who love what they do. If a homeowner starts to express concern over who I send; I can confidently say I have a good team. If they need all female painters, or me to be on site with my male crew for perceived safety reasons, I encourage them to call someone else.

Any further comments are welcome. Just go here and comment below.


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