(OTTAWA/VANCOUVER) – September 21, 2023 – The Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) has published a new report highlighting the employment experiences of 2S/LGBTQ+ individuals working in the trades in Canada, with a special focus on the construction trades. Through interviews with stakeholders and analysis of national survey data, the report reveals an urgent need for trades industry leaders, policymakers, and advocacy groups to improve policies and programs to address the challenges faced by this underrepresented group.
“At a time of labour shortages in trades Canada-wide, the report documents the persistent barriers faced by 2S/LGBTQ+ individuals at various stages of their trades careers,” said Chloe Halpenny, Research Associate, SRDC. “The current lack of representation and visibility in the industry perpetuates stereotypes and deters interest among 2S/LGBTQ+ youth. Instances of microaggressions, discriminatory hiring practices, and negative workplace experiences such as bullying, physical violence, and sexual harassment contribute to a hostile environment for 2S/LGBTQ+ individuals pursuing or contemplating a career in the trades.”
The study also calls attention to the detrimental impact of harassment, physical violence, exclusion, and other negative workplace experiences on the physical and mental health of 2S/LGBTQ+ tradespeople. National survey respondents who identified as sexual minorities working in the trades reported poorer physical and mental health compared to their heterosexual counterparts.
Stakeholders SRDC interviewed identified a range of potential solutions to address these pressing issues, spanning policy improvements and program responses. The report calls for the creation of safer, more equitable, and inclusive environments for 2S/LGBTQ+ individuals in the trades. The study, which is funded in part by the Government of Canada, also found strong leadership vital to establish and maintain clear expectations around workplace culture. Additionally, the report emphasized the necessity for further data collection in this area, as the exploratory nature of the study limited the scope and depth of topics that could be thoroughly examined.
By implementing effective policies, fostering inclusive programs, and conducting further research, trades stakeholders in Canada can work towards fostering workplaces that respect diversity, ensure equal opportunities, and help support 2S/LGBTQ+ individuals to flourish and thrive in trades careers.
Stakeholder Interview Quotes:
“If [2S/LGBTQ+ people] don’t see themselves reflected, they’re going to have a hard time seeing themselves doing that type of work.”
“The industry…already has a perception of being unwelcoming and very traditional…Even not knowing anything about construction, you just already assume that it’s…not safe for those who are in marginalized groups.”
“I’ve seen some business managers start to put their pronouns in their email signature, and some of them have a link to explain why that’s important. They’re starting to be champions and others see it. It sets that tone. It also lends to people bringing more ideas, like ‘let’s participate in the Pride parade.’ It’s an opening.”
For more information, please contact Chloe Halpenny, Research Associate.
The Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) is a non-profit research organization created specifically to develop, field test, and rigorously evaluate new programs. Our two-part mission is to help policymakers and practitioners identify policies and programs that improve the well-being of all Canadians, with a special concern for the effects on the disadvantaged, and to raise the standards of evidence that are used in assessing these policies.
Since our establishment in December 1991, our SRDC team has conducted over 450 projects and studies for various federal and provincial departments, municipalities, as well as other public and non-profit organizations. We have offices located in Ottawa and Vancouver and satellite offices in Calgary, Hamilton, Montreal, Regina, St. John’s, Toronto, and Winnipeg.