Challenging terminology in the construction industry
The following is an example of what is happening in the construction industry in the US. Could this happen here?
Lora McMillan, a senior superintendent working for Canadian construction firm Ledcor, noticed the use of the term “manpower” on the website of a construction software business, Bridgit. It wasn’t the first time she had noticed this languaging within the construction industry – terms such as foreman, workmanship, tradesman were still being used, despite the fact that the industry is trying to appeal to a more diverse workforce.
She then spoke to Lauren Lake, co-founder and COO of Bridgit, and challenged Lauren and the leaders at Bridgit, to find more inclusive terms. Lora McMillan and Lauren Lake are now taking on the construction industry as a whole – asking them to use more gender-inclusive language to avoid using terms that leaves women, in particular, feeling marginalised.
Organisations interested in implementing changes, are asked to consider the following:
- Analyse non-inclusive industry terms that are used daily
- Teach employees the reasons why these words are not appropriate, and find alternatives
- Remove the words from documentation and other workplace material, as well as asking employees to change their vocabulary and to keep each other accountable
- Challenge other construction leaders to follow their lead. This includes subcontractors and suppliers.
They have found that approximately 70% are ready to make these changes, while 15% are already across this and 15% who will never make these changes.