Advancing Women In Skilled Trades
Female Engineer in a hardhat

Retention Intro


Women play an integral role in the workforce. While the first step for increasing the number
of women in the trades is recruiting them, changing the internal culture is equally important.
Without a welcoming environment, companies lose their new hires due to an unsafe
or discriminatory workplace, wasting the efforts they spent on recruiting and training.

It is important for companies with skilled trades’ workers to set policies and procedures
for advancement, options to improve work-life balance, and implement anti-discrimination
policies. Employers can also complete assessments to understand their workplace culture
and obtain feedback from employees. This next section will provide tools to retain women
in the workforce.

Key Findings

Key Barriers

Tools and Strategies

01 /

Use a Welcome Package

WHY? To let new hires know they are welcomed and valued by the organization. It is also to ensure they are appropriately informed of the policies and procedures that govern the organization as well as the supports and benefits that are in place for all staff.

Forbes Magazine Online gives the following reasons why a welcome package
(also called an ‘onboarding package’) is so helpful:

  1. First days are difficult for new hires. The newest addition to the team won’t be part of the social circle, and won’t know all the ins and outs of the position/workplace. A welcome letter and a package answering common questions can help new recruits feel at home
  2. First impressions are important. You’ve spent time and resources on the recruitment stage, you want to be sure the individual you have chosen knows your company cares, and is prepared to bring them on board
  3. This is your first (and best) opportunity to educate the new worker about company policy and culture


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02 /

Develop and use standardized orientations

WHY? Everyone is different, and not all new hires will integrate with workplace culture as
quickly as others. Standard orientations ensure all coworkers are on the same page, and
receive the same information about the company and work. writes that a
standard orientation will help in the following ways


03 /

Increase Work Flexibility

WHY? Flexible work schedules are family-friendly workplaces benefit everyone. Their purpose is to accommodate staff, especially women, who are caregivers, single parents, etc. without sacrificing productivity.

An American study by Boston College studied flextime’s impact on 1353 employees and 151 managers. It was shown to have a positive impact on productivity with 70% of managers, and 87% of employees.

HOW? Where possible, increased flexibility can be achieved through part-time employment, shift schedule options, changeable start/end times to accommodate family needs (children drop-off/pick-up times), and paid sick leave.

04 /

Develop clear and reasonable maternity leave policies

WHY? It’s the law to have maternity leave policy. Making that policy clear, generous and accessible means that you can attract family-minded and loyal recruits.

HOW? Ensure that you meet the legal requirements of the employment standard acts. As an employer, you are required to post at least one copy of the most recent Employment Standards Act poster in an eye-catching, high traffic area in the workplace. Consider how your company can go above and beyond. Examples attached. (Appendix 2.Q)

05 /

Assess and Develop Workplace Culture

WHY? Workplace culture surveys are useful for organizations as they have capability to reveal the moods, opinions, and suggestions of employees. This information can be used to improve the environment of a workplace. By collecting anonymous data from your employers, your organization can address any issues that take place at work. The document can be made in an electronic version to disguise writing and can also be made into an online survey to be analyzed more efficiently.

The UK Resource Centre for Women (UKRC) has developed a “Culture Change Model” (feature below) outlining the steps organizations can take to improve their organizational culture. The list of actions is not exhaustive; please contact UKRC for more information and advice.

Identify Your Company Goals

Gain commitment at all levels

Analyze workplace culture

Develop an action plan

Review policies and procedures

Flexible working

Gender equality training

Networking and mentoring


06 /

Address Harassment

WHY? It’s the law. The Government of Ontario has mandated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS section 32.0.1 9b and 9c) that employers must prepare and review a policy on workplace harassment.

Harassment in the workplace is quite prevalent buy is usually not recognized as such. The culture at some companies tolerates pornographic calendars, pictures and stickers, foul language, sexual and sexist remarks and stares, as well as offensive jokes. If you haven’t receive a complaint about harassment, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in your workplace.


07 /

Publicize Your Success

WHY? First, diverse workplaces attract diverse talent. When it is public knowledge that your company values the contributions of women, you are more likely to receive applications from a broader variety of workers, with a broader variety of skills. Second, the availability of this information will help other employers identify practices that work so they can also implement these practices and help to break down barriers for women to get into the skilled trades.

HOW? If you have a website, include profiles and case studies of women in your workplace. Example of articles about successful women in skilled trades attached (Appendix 2.N)