Image courtesy of Skanska USA and Building Design + Construction.

Pre-COVID-19, the number of women in the construction industry finally began to move in the upward direction sitting at around 9.9%. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, between 2017 and 2018 alone the number of women working in construction trades increased by 17.6%. The percentage of women classified as construction managers also rose from 5.9% in 2003 to 7.7% in 2018. So how does the industry continue to diversify and retain women in the industry? As reported by Building Design + Construction last year, Skanska USA is working toward meeting certain needs by women in the workplace, such as PPE equipment (personal protective equipment).

Often the equipment is oversized and uncomfortable. The article said, “As the industry evolves and the number of women within it grows, it has become obvious that the personal protective equipment (PPE) — meaning safety vests, gloves, and goggles — these professionals use on a daily basis has not kept pace. PPE that doesn’t fit properly is not only failing to provide the level of safety intended, it could be actively creating dangerous situations.”

As a leader in the construction industry, Skanska USA decided to create a full line of PPE tailored to women, available to both Skanska employees and the construction industry at large. The customized safety vests is the first piece of equipment to undergo an update. They created two tailor-made vest options: one with a tapered waist that removes the larger fit of original vests, and one that forgoes the tapered waist in favor of an adjustable elastic band around the waist. Both options are made from a breathable mesh material that makes the vest lighter and more comfortable in warm climates. 

Image courtesy of Skanska USA and Building Design + Construction.

According to Skanska, “We aim to have more PPE designed for women available in the future including new construction helmets on many of our projects that, unlike the traditional hard hat, provides added protection to the front, side and rear of a person’s head and has a chin strap to ensure it remains in place in the case of a fall.”

Adjusting the PPE equipment is just one example of how the industry needs to react to continue to diversify their workforce. This Wednesday’s METALCONLive!, Can You Afford NOT to Have Diversity in Your Workforce?, will feature Heidi Ellsworth, Roofers Coffee Shop, moderating a panel of women leaders in the industry including:

  • Tiffany Hutcheson, Sales and Customer Service Manager, Brightsmith Coaters
  • Sonya Malik, President, Association of Women in Metal
  • Minnie Robles, Product Representative, ATAS International
  • Troy Simms, General Manger, Atlantic Recycling Group

Join us for this discussion on a subject that profoundly impacts our industry; the challenges, benefits, rewards, and strategies associated with recruiting and retaining top talent in today’s market. REGISTER TODAY for the program happening this Wednesday.