Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN), following a panel discussion relating to racism in the construction industry earlier in the month, has published the following statement outlining recommendations and “practical steps” to overcome the problem.
In light of recent incidents of nooses found hanging at construction sites across Toronto, the Toronto Community Benefits Network joins with our allies in the construction industry to condemn hate and anti-Black racism. These incidents of racism have a profound impact on the humanity and dignity of those being targeted, and are part of a vicious cycle that prevents workers from reaching their full potential. See our full statement here.
In listening to Black construction trades workers, professionals and leaders from the industry, TCBN has developed recommendations of practical steps individuals and organizations can take to root out Anti-Black Racism.
Some recommendations include:
- Industry leadership establish a province wide accountability body representing community, labour, contractors and government to help unions and contractors identify workplace culture and practices that foster systemic racism, and track, monitor and evaluate the implementation of policies that eradicate systemic racism and anti-Black racism practices in the construction industry
- Contractors and/or contractor associations appoint Black representatives within their leadership structure
- Unions integrate Black members into leadership structure and staff positions
- Client/ owner of construction projects appoint community benefits liaison staff to support the implementation of equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the planning, design and build stages of the construction project
Recruitment and hiring
- Track the success of employees who start at the same level to determine if race plays a role in your organization
- Collect race-based data of all employees, managers and executives
- Developing a hiring and promotion plan through a race and gender based lens
- Establish a position of diversity officer or ombudsperson to address systemic racism and discrimination
- Develop a streamlined reporting process for incidences of hate, discrimination and racism including a whistleblower protection plan and progressive discipline. Where applicable, ensure that perpetrators are disciplined to the full extent of the law within the legal frameworks that apply to their actions,
- Ensure that justice is not only done, but is seen to be done, when confronting systemic racism and anti-Black racism
Mentorship and mental health supports
- Work with community organizations to establish mentorship programs for all apprentices
- Provide free mental health supports and resources for employees
Education and Training
- Implement an Employee Education and Awareness Campaign on inclusion and diversity focused explicitly on racism, privilege, mental health, allyship and bias.
- Provide ongoing diversity and inclusion training for all union members, apprentices, employees, supervisors, managers and executives – including the impact of micro-aggressions and unconscious bias as a form of discrimination
- Ensure that anyone in a position of authority is conversant with Human Rights legislation and their responsibility to ensure a workplace environment free of racial or any other form of harassment