“Maaaate! Am I dreamin’? Can it get any better?” – Dave

Women in Trades NZ
Women in Trades NZ

Based on feedback from the employers we spoke to, here are four things you can expect when you hire a female tradie.

  1. She’ll go easier on the tools and equipment. “Women are lighter on the tools and not as hard on some of the gear – not as rough. They just seem to care a little bit more”
  2. She’ll have an eye for detail. “When you tell her to do something, it’s perfect. I mean, she’ll listen to the spec and I think that’s a difference with women – they’re more pedantic about getting it right.”
  3. She’ll be great with your customers.“You’ll find women can be a good point of contact for a client. Sometimes men don’t always have a filter that they need, where women can sometimes smooth things over a bit. So in this industry, that’s probably a role, and people are screaming out for it”
  4. She’ll offer a different perspective. “She’s actually putting a lot of ideas in like, why don’t we try this other way? Normally, you’d say no, we’ve always done it this way. But she’s actually said things that have made jobs easier and saved time.”

Dave: Maaaate! Am I dreamin’? Can it get any better?

TradeCareers: Yes, Dave. It can!

From real feedback, from real employers in the trades, here’s four reasons why hiring more women makes good business sense.

  1. Women are dedicated. “Both the girls, they took home offcuts of power-point cable, wire strippers and things, and they just go home and practice at it at night. I think they wanted to prove a point a little bit.”
  2. Women are better at completing tasks. “Females just take care with everything they touch, you know? They see jobs all the way through.”
  3. Women are good at time management. When you get on the job, you must assess the time that you believe you’re going to do it in. There’s no use turning up to a job and saying, Oh well, might be here tomorrow, might be here the next day — that doesn’t work in business. I think maybe the women are better at that.”
  4. Women can change the workplace environment by lifting the quality of work. “It was really good having the females against the blokes because they tended to cross the T’s and dot the I’s, especially on the academic side of things, so they created a bit of competitiveness and it was really good.”

Gender What-ed?

Women in Trades NZ
Women in Trades NZ

The more people who apply for a job, the more chance you’ve got of getting the best employees. But the law states some clear do’s and don’ts when it comes to hiring. Dave’s a bit confused about it all – particularly when it comes to women.

Dave: So there’s things I can and can’t ask in a job interview? What’s that all about?

Trade Careers: You’re not legally allowed to ask someone if they have children if they’re planning on having children, or how old they are.

We all want a free, fair, and safe place to work and live, right? The Human Rights Commission helps to make that happen. They’ve put an easy-to-read guide together to help you with the employment process so you can make sure nobody is missing out on an opportunity and a fair go. Give it a read

Dave: Easy peasy. What about writing job ads? Anything tricky about that?

Trade Careers: The language you use might be gender-coded.

Dave: Gender What-ed?!

We’re all smart enough to know what’s blatantly sexist but there are subtle language differences that could put women off applying for positions you need filled.

If your wording is a bit too blokey, some women might feel like they won’t be able to do the job or they won’t fit in.

If that sounds like a minefield, or a bit too hard – don’t panic! There’s a tool for the job. It’s called the gender decoder. Basically, you just type or paste in the text for your job ad. Then instantly see if the wording is in any way biased.

Dave: But if I write job ads just for women, won’t I miss out on getting some good blokes on site too?

Trade Careers: This isn’t about writing job ads for women. It’s about writing job ads for everyone. The more people the position appeals to, the more chance you’ve got of finding the best person for the job – and it might just be a woman.

Dave: Aaah. Makes sense. Spoilt for choice. CHOICE!

Give it a red hot go! Copy the text from a tradie job ad on TradeMe. Paste it into the gender decoder to see how it rates.

Red Hot Tip

Focus the content of your job ad on the skills, experience and competencies needed for the job. Anyone who meets the criteria is more likely to apply.

“The trades are fast, exciting and challenging. If you have the people skills you can pick up the tools stuff.” – Gracie.

Women in Trades NZ
Women in Trades NZ

When you’re hiring new staff, how important is it that they have a good attitude, a willingness to learn, and they’ll turn up on time?

The employers we spoke to said it was important! It turns out, lots of women have exactly these qualities – and they might not be the type of women you think.

Over half of the women we surveyed who are keen to enter the trades are:

  • over 35,
  • have higher education qualifications
  • no dependents
  • and have lots of transferable skills.

The skills of thinking ahead and planning in my last job have been so useful. The skill of being able to anticipate what will happen and solve problems – I use that all the time. Having an academic background has helped me retain information quickly.
Jordy. Former Anaesthetic Technician, now carpentry apprentice.

As a mum who became a leading hand, the skills of being a parent are so helpful. I’m comfortable telling people what to do. I understand other’s experiences and I know how to be encouraging.
Vee. Mum and Leading Hand.

Hospo gives you amazing people skills, the ability to work quickly and communicate in a fast-paced environment, and you have to be really organised. These skills are so important in project management. The trades are fast, exciting and challenging. If you have the people skills you can pick up the tools stuff.
Gracie. Former Hospitality Worker, now Project Manager.

Dave: What about employers who’ve already got women on-site? What do they reckon?

Trade Careers: We spoke to 28 employers up and down the country from Whangarei to Dunedin. Here’s what some of them had to say.

To be honest, young males have got a lot of maturing to do when they leave school, and we find that in their early twenties, we’re their parent, we’re their boss, we’re their everything, and to try and coach them along, you put up with a lot of crap as an employer. The females we have found have actually brought less of that. They haven’t been born into the trade, but they’ve got a passion, an interest and they’re motivated so actually, often they turn out to be really good.

Both the women we’ve employed are ahead with attitude, they’re ahead with detailing, they’re ahead with preparation. Before they leave at night they actually spend 5 minutes preparing for the next day, so they just come in and get into it.

Our road-marking foreman, he’s got a young girl with him at the moment and she’s just flourishing because she’s willing to get involved, she wants to learn, she brings an attitude that’s just, “I’m going to do it!”, and the other guys are picking up on that as well.

Dave: Hello! That’s what you wanna hear!

“Suck it up buttercup!”

Marc Rudolf is Tegan’s boss. Listen as he shares how he got his team ready to welcome women on site.

“I’ve been hiring women for 22 years – best thing I have ever done.”

As Wood Solutions general manager, Andrew Bellamy has been employing women for 22 years. Here he gives some tips on how to manage the transition to an integrated and diverse workplace.

www.woodsolutions.co.nz/

@woodsolutionsdunedin

“You could be missing out on some seriously talented people by waiting for them to come to you.”

How do you hire people? Do you employ mates of mates or maybe a mate’s son? Or do you just expect the ‘Rock and Knock’?

The ‘Rock and Knock’ is where you expect potential employees to rock up and knock on the door to ask for a job. That’s all good for people who:

  • know who to talk to
  • know where to go
  • are connected to the right people

Women who don’t have a personal connection to your industry like a dad, brother, or uncle don’t have that option. That makes it trickier for them to get a foot in the door. They don’t even know where the door is!

Dave: OK, but how’s a woman gonna know that I’m hiring and how’s she gonna know where my door is?

Trade Careers: To start with, there are some organisations specifically aimed at getting more women into the construction and infrastructure industry. Here are four to check out.

  1. Women in Trades
  2. National Association of Women in Construction
  3. The Diversity Agenda
  4. Women in Roofing

Dave: Jeez. Now I’ve learned something. What about the organisations I already know about? Can they help?

Trade Careers: Yep. These organisations are all committed to getting more women into trades.

  1. Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO)
  2. Connexis
  3. Skills.org
  4. Māori and Pasifika Trades Training
  5. Competenz

Dave: Alrighty. What about a bit of DIY? What can I do myself?

Trade Careers: Heaps! See how many of these boxes you could tick in an afternoon?

  • Use your family, social, and work networks to ask around for women who are keen to train, or are already trained and are keen to work.
  • Put some flyers around local community groups, clubs and businesses like supermarkets, gyms, yoga and pilates studios. Make sure you mention that your company and workplace is female-friendly.
  • And, of course, advertise. If there’s the opportunity to include images, choose some that make it clear the women are encouraged to apply.

Women in Trades NZ

Right! Ready to give this a red hot go?