Advancing Women In Skilled Trades
Female Engineer in a hardhat

Advancement Intro

Key Findings

Key Barriers

Tools and Strategies

01 /

Provide Opportunities to contribute

WHY? Maximizing the talent pool leads to new opportunities for your business to grow and prosper.


02 /

Mentorship Programs

WHY? A study by Ernst & Young of 9,700 employees globally showed that over 50% said they would leave a job if not given access to mentors. Additionally, in the paper “Does Mentoring Matter?” published to the Journal of Vocational Behaviour, the authors conclude that workplace mentorship programs have benefits for worker attitude, health, and motivation. Mentorship programs are used by companies of all size to address some common Human Resource issues:

Mentorships can prove critical to the advancement of women in the workplace. Having mentors available (not necessarily involved in the same occupation, but leaders in their field) to share advice leads to higher retention of women in the workplace. These can be collaborative programs, offered in conjunction with training institutions, government agencies, employers and other members of the private sector. A paper by Management Mentors highlights the role of mentorship in succession/promotion:


03 /

Clarify Promotion Requirements

WHY? Gender discrimination occurs when the genders are treated not only differently, but unequally. There is an inherently unequal system of promotion in many workplaces that favour men. When clear standard criteria for promotions are established, workplaces experience the following benefits:

Planning and Training

When all workers know the criteria for attaining a promotion, everyone has equal opportunity to gain the training and education necessary for that position. This encourages continuous workplace learning, and generates a better-trained team overall.

Retention of Workers

When workers know how they will be able to advance in their careers, they are able to plan for a long future with the company by researching all available opportunities.

Achievable Goals

Standard promotion criteria ensures that advancement considers only factors that are achievable by all workers. Not all measures of a ‘good worker’ are attainable for everyone. For example:

Inclusion in Workplace Culture

As Rosemary Hunter writes in her book Indirect Discrimination, “Notification of promotion opportunities through informal networks, with employees being given no official information about how the ‘system’ works, will generally have the effect of limiting women’s and minority employees’ access to promotion.”41 When promotions rely solely
on the recommendation of a supervisor, for example, often only those with the best social relationships with coworkers and management are considered.

Similar to other suggestions in this toolkit, (such as having standardized interview questions, interview evaluations, standardized onboarding and orientation), having clear promotion criteria ensures gender bias in the workplace is eliminated in the advancement of workers.


04 /

Continued Education Initiatives

WHY? The benefits of offering continuing education to employees are as follows:


On March 28, 2014, Ontario signed the Canada-Ontario Job Fund Agreement with the federal government. The agreement is a key source of funding for new, employer-driven, training initiatives and represents an opportunity for the province to engage more effectively with employers in support of Ontarians obtaining the skills required to fill
and succeed in available jobs. Under the agreement, Ontario delivers the Canada-Ontario Job Grant.

The grant provides direct financial support for employers who wish to purchase training for their workforce. In this grant program, employers choose the individuals they would like to have trained, and the training that meets their workforce development needs.

This program is intended to support employers in taking a greater role in workforce development. The cost of training is a shared investment between employers and the government.