Canadian Contractor

Robert Koci   

YOUR VOICE: Topic – Marketing your renovation company as a “female only” employer

"Are not all workers equal?"

YOUR VOICE is a new feature of where we ask you to weigh in on a topic relevant to our industry.

TOPIC: Marketing as a “female-employees only” renovation industry

STORY: Canadian Contractor recently came across signage on the back of a truck advertising that the employees of the painting company were all female. Men need not apply. In a conversation with the owner of the company, Canadian Contractor learned the key reason for the marketing focus was to attract customers who preferred to have women working in their home.

POV 1: NO. What on earth are we doing in this day and age making a distinction regarding the gender of the workers in a company? Haven’t we got past that? Are not all workers equal? We should be blind to gender in all things, including who works on what. And, the hiring practices of this company would have to be by definition discriminatory.

POV 2: YES. There is still discrimination in construction, and women need a safe place to work and help to get the jobs they are qualified for. And customers need the opportunity to hire only those who they consider safe to have inside their homes, in many cases that means female workers only.

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8 Comments » for YOUR VOICE: Topic – Marketing your renovation company as a “female only” employer
  1. Hey there,
    I am a female owner of a painting company as well. I have been in business for 14 years and currently have 7 staff including summer students, both male and female. We work in high end res new builds/ high end res 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 Contractor 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.

    • Avatar photo Robert Koci says:

      I love your comment that you hire for character. Ability is good, but you can teach ability when there is something lacking. Character is baked in to someone’s upbringing. Once they reach adulthood, it is very difficult to change character. More importantly, I am not sure it is the job of employers to “teach” character anyway.

  2. Victoria Williams says:

    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.

    • Avatar photo Robert Koci says:

      You comment makes it clear that you are “gender-blind” where your employees are concerned. It makes a lot of sense, where pandering to a client’s prejudice seems counter-productive to a healthy business culture. And I think you stand on equal rights makes sense, too. It comes down to rejecting the identity of groups and allowing people to be judged by their individual behavior, not by the perceived character of the group they are identified with.

  3. Dave says:

    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.

    • Avatar photo Robert Koci says:

      Interesting that you suggest people pay lip service to the idea, but in reality it doesn’t work quite the way they expect. I think there is something in your suggestion that the work environment becomes a little better when women are on site. Men, left to themselves, can be socially—let’s say—awkward.

  4. Ian says:

    That’s 100% 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 “masculin toxicity” to the equation. Rarely treated with any respect by the children, wife, girlfriend etc. I come from a family with 2 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

    • Avatar photo Robert Koci says:

      Society certainly seems to have it out for men in particular. The argument goes that men have had it good for a long time, particularly white men, and so it’s time they had a taste of their own medicine and felt what it was like for the “oppressed” to live under their overarching power. You mention, “toxic masculinity” that has captured the imagination of many, that suggests that there is something fundamentally wrong with masculinity and that men need to be socially engineered into good citizenry. It the kind of thinking that makes me nervous. I don’t want to be socially engineered.

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