Tridel teams up with EllisDon, LiUNA, RECON and BILD to tackle racism in construction

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Ontario Construction News staff writ

A Toronto condominium developer, along with several construction industry leaders, kicked off the “Built for Respect” campaign last week, to tackle racism in the construction industry, with the support of a labour union, a construction company, industry associations, the city and province.

The campaign by condo developer Tridel, in partnership with EllisDon, the Labourers’ International Union of North America- Local 183, Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) and Building Industry & Land Development Association (BILD) follows several incidents over the past few months where nooses were found hanging at Toronto construction sites, including Michael Garron Hospital in East York.

EllisDon also dealt with a racist comment written on a door at the Michael Garron worksite in September. The company’s commitment to inclusive diversity “is to work together to create an inclusive environment where all of our employees can reach their full potential and individual differences are valued and respected,” it said in a statement.

In 2020, EllisDon founded the Alliance of Black Employee Experience and Leadership (ABEEL) with the goal to educate and raise awareness on how “we can all be part of the change to stop anti-Black racism within EllisDon and our communities.”

tridel ellisdon

“In order for the construction industry to reflect Canada’s values, we must look like Canada at every level, tradesperson, site leadership and executive level up and down the supply chain,” said BILD’s David Wilkes. “That access does not currently exist, and will require training, mentorship and capital all targeted directly at the BIPOC community. And we need specific time based goals so that we can measure our progress. EllisDon is determined to participate as much as we can in these initiatives, because any other outcome is simply immoral.”

The endorsement by industry associations showcases their resolve to fight against racism.

“Everyone has a right to work in an environment that is safe, that is physically, psychologically and culturally safe as well,” Andrea DelZotto, director and executive vice-president of community development at the Tridel Group of Companies said at the launch.

“At Tridel and Deltera, we always say the first community we build is our own,” DelZotto said, adding that the company has a responsibility to create a culture of “integrity, respect and professionalism” that embraces diversity.

The endorsement by industry associations showcases their resolve to fight against racism.

According to a Tridel spokesperson, RESCON “started the conversation” and the Built for Respect campaign follows those efforts.

“We started a very important conversation in our industry,” DelZotto said. “Our Built for Respect initiative is the foundation of our efforts to educate and build awareness around diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Mayor John Tory and Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s minister of labour, training and skills development., pledged their support for the campaign at a news conference held at a construction site of The Well, a mixed-use development, at Front Street West and Spadina Avenue.

“Built for Respect is not only necessary right now but an impactful way for the sector to come together and address an ongoing issue, Tory said.

“We have seen over the past few months an increase in racist and discriminatory threats against members of this community, and the only way in which we can fight this is by coming together and taking a stand against anti-Black racism within our city.”

The initiative will be driven by a steering committee including employees at all levels and across all teams of the organization. Tridel and Deltera have a two-to-five year plan which DelZotto says demonstrates the sustained commitment of the company to going beyond their own workforce to support industry and communities where they build.

“We started a very important conversation in our industry,” she said. “Our Built for Respect initiative is the foundation of our efforts to educate and build awareness.”

The result will provide clarity on what is expected in the industry and what will not be tolerated “to ensure every workplace remains equitable and inclusive for everyone.”

LiUNA has adopted a zero tolerance policy that says any member who is found to have participated in a racially motivated act on a jobsite or workplace risks permanent expulsion from the union.

“Any and all forms of racism, hate or bigotry have no place in our organization, our industry or in our communities,” Jason Ottey, director of government relations and communications, LiUNA Local 183, said in a statement.

“LiUNA was built on diversity and inclusion and to provide a voice for the unheard and often unseen. LiUNA will continue to work towards building a society where all people can work free of racism and discrimination. I am proud to be part of the Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity as well as the RESCON group.”

RESCON recently launched a Construction Against Racism Everywhere (CARE) campaign to positively influence a culture shift within the construction workforce.

“We have to address racism in the construction industry immediately and develop a strategy on what we need to do going forward to try and change behaviours and thinking, said Richard Lyall. “We are working with a number of developers, like Tridel, that allow us to increase our ability to influence widespread change; it showcases how we are stronger together.”

“We have to be an active part of the solution,” says BILD’s David Wilkes. “We are an inclusive industry and we have such a diverse representation of people of every culture. Everyone is equal and because of that, there is zero tolerance for racial incidents. We need to work towards a future where every person is free from real or perceived threats of hateful or racist acts.”

BILD will be introducing an Anti-Racism pledge to their membership which will be supported by a dedicated steering group that is committing to long term mandate of awareness and education.

“We have zero tolerance for any form of hate, racism or discrimination,” McNaughton said at the launch. “With government, industry and labour working together we can build an Ontario that is more diverse, more inclusive and more respectful of every person in our province.”

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