LANGFORD, B.C. – BC Centre for Women in the Trades’ (BCCWITT) executive director Karen Dearlove is calling for more inclusive environments for women working in the trades.

Dearlove came to the BCWITT executive director role in 2021 focused on the Be More Than A Bystander (BMTAB) program, a training and educational program “supporting organizational and cultural shifts towards more welcoming, healthy, safe and respectful workplaces,” a Construction Foundation of BC (CFBC) release stated.

“A lot of the services that BCCWITT provide on a day-to-day basis make big impacts on people’s lives. We have trades training and employment programs where we help bring women into the trades and get them referred to first apprenticeships. A lot of these women have also come from precarious employment and are really looking to make a big transition in their lives. One of the programs that can help those women is BMTAB,” Dearlove said.

BMTAB participants are equipped with practical tools and strategies to intervene and end cycles of bullying, harassment and violence in the skilled trades, the release said, and since 2011 the program has trained more than 225,000 people in B.C.

Dearlove stressed the need for a workplace and overall cultural change regarding female-specific personal protection equipment (PPE) and workwear, washroom facilities and child care-related options and services, and said “these areas are not only necessary from an equitable workplace standpoint, but for the sustainability of B.C.’s construction industry as a whole.

“The onus is really on employers to not just think about recruiting, but also retaining and helping to build up and train up that workforce so that there will be Red Seal workers in the future. But, you have to think about how to do that now. Bringing in apprentices, changing workplace culture, finding ways to be more accommodating are all really important issues that we need to address in order to make those changes,” Dearlove said.

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