Inspiring Inclusion in Every Workplace

by kate-campbell

I have navigated a traditionally male-dominated industry and witnessed firsthand the power of inclusivity in fostering a more welcoming and productive work environment. This International Women’s Day, with the theme of Inspiring Inclusion, it’s crucial to reflect on why diversity and inclusivity matter in every industry.

Photo credit: Black Bird Creative

Inclusion isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the cornerstone of a thriving workplace culture where every individual feels valued and respected. Here are four important topics that can inspire inclusivity in every workplace, drawn from my experiences in carpentry and beyond.

Embrace Diversity in Leadership: 

Ensuring diverse representation at all levels of leadership is one of the most effective ways to promote inclusivity. When leadership reflects the diversity of the workplace, it empowers everyone with the opportunity to succeed, regardless of gender, race or background. In this way, our industries can tap into a broader range of perspectives and experiences, leading to a more innovative space and better decision-making overall.  

A Culture of Belonging: 

You know that term “there are no stupid questions?” This is what I’m talking about here! Industries and workplaces where individuals are empowered to have open communication are the ones that foster inclusivity. Not only do we solve more workplace problems, we are breaking down barriers and building connections across diverse groups by having a culture of respect, empathy and open communication. 

Additionally, investing in people by providing opportunities for professional development and advancement to all employees can help foster a sense of belonging therefore, investing in the company’s success. 

By prioritizing inclusivity in company culture, industries and workplaces can create a supportive environment where everyone can thrive and contribute their best work!

Following Inclusive Policies and Practices: 

Throughout the last month leading up to International Women’s Day, I have been interviewing and featuring different women in trades to inspire inclusion in my own industry. They have all had such inspiring insight on different ways we can make our industry more inclusive. Workplace and industry policies and practices have come up a few different times with the women I’ve interviewed. Their insights can definitely apply to many different work forces and industries!

Our first woman in trade feature was Paige Heron, and she dived into how simple practices like female only porta potties on site or even waste baskets in the washrooms for feminine hygiene products would foster a more inclusive environment. 

Samara Sampson is another woman in the trades who was featured and she explained how in her industry, there are a lot of great policies in place, but just as important as writing them is actually following them.

Implementing policies and practices (and following them) to accommodate diverse needs can help ensure that everyone feels valued and included in the workplace.

Inclusive Language: 

Language is so powerful and can be the centre point of shaping perceptions and attitudes. By using inclusive language and practices, industries and workplaces can create a more welcoming and respectful environment for all individuals.

This means avoiding gendered or exclusionary language, and instead opting for neutral terms that include all individuals. For example, instead of using terms like “tradesmen,” which implies a male-dominated workforce, use “tradesperson” or “craftspeople” to be more inclusive of all genders.
Molly Allgood is another woman in trades who was featured in the past month, and she brought up a great perspective on the trades industry and mindset. As I dove into the topic of inclusive language, I had her perspective in mind. In her interview, she talked about how our tools and technology continue to advance, but some of the mindsets of tradespeople have not.

I recognize that although these topics talk about inspiring inclusion, it’s much different to actually implement them. How do we navigate inclusion with those that resist? Being mindful and recognizing that there will be resistance is the first step. The more we practice inclusivity, the more normal it will be. 

Inspiring inclusivity in every workplace is not just the right thing to do—it’s also essential to drive innovation, creativity, and success. This International Women’s Day and beyond, let’s commit to building more inclusive workplaces where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of who they are or where they come from. Together, we can create a brighter and more equitable future for all.

In my last blog post, I featured Paige, Molly and Samara. You can also find their interview clips on my Instagram page! With International Women’s Day being this week, I have two inspiring and amazing women in trades to feature:

Tessa Ferzli @tattedbrickie

Tessa Ferzli and Kate Campbell International Women's Day

Meet Tessa Ferzli! She is a Portuguese and Lebanese first generation Canadian and a 401A brick and stone mason by trade. She is also Canada’s youngest female red seal mason! Tessa has spent a decade in the trades and is currently in Ottawa, Ontario.

Her journey to become a mason felt like a natural fit as a lot of her family members were tradespeople and in general, her family had a DIY attitude, making her trade a natural fit. 

She was also lucky enough to be inspired by courses in high school and eventually landed a summer job with the company she works for now.

Reflecting on her past experience starting out in the trades, here is what Tessa would do differently:

Reflecting on her past, Tessa recognizes that she didn’t necessarily allow herself to really take in what was going on around her, and she was often on the defensive. If she could go back she would have really tried to absorb the information she was receiving. Rather than taking on any workplace conflict yourself, she recommends reporting to the proper leadership. 

Tessa believes in the value of slowing down, and bridging the gap between experienced journey people and up-and-comers. Unfortunately in her experience, the hardest part of the job was never the workload, long hours or extreme climates, it was sexism in the workplace.

It wasn’t necessarily her own team that caused difficulty, rather it was the trades or customers around her who didn’t want her on the job site simply because of her gender. Her best advice for surviving environments like these is “fake it until you make it!” Her facade of confidence really threw people off while making those around her believe in her. Inspiring! 

Tessa is now truly confident in her trade and work, and she knows her stuff! This is obvious in the quality of the projects she has completed, but it didn’t come without a struggle. 

Advice Tessa has for those who are just starting out in the trades:

“Really absorb the information you’re receiving,” Tessa explains. There are so many wise trades people on a worksite, that really taking it in and learning is key to Tessa.

Tessa believes that you don’t necessarily have to burn yourself out to prove your worth at your place of work. Instead simple skills like open communication and organization will set you apart.

Chiara Sulyok @chiarasulyok

This is Chiara Sulyok! She is a Regional Partner with Alair Homes for the Vancouver Island and Arizona units. Her role consists of collaborating with units on their day-to-day operations, team building, job site operations and setting goals for the year to help elevate the business so it can continue to grow. 

Chiara loves nothing more than working with these partners, and learning how she can push them to be better! 

Chiara’s journey to the trades was far from short and sweet. Growing up with a father in construction, she always knew she had a love for what he did and specifically loved being involved with concrete pours on his weekend jobs. Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, Chiara recognized quickly that it was hard to convince not only her dad, but also her teachers that she could work in the trades.

Originally Chiara went to school for Horticulture which allowed her to explore carpentry and this piqued her interest. Being a mom and having a family, she would eventually bounce back and forth between horticulture and serving. 

After Chiara had her son, she knew it was time for a career change and she enrolled in a six month trades program for interior finishing where the concepts basically touched on everything! Her teacher at the time offered her a position with his renovation business where she learned so much and worked with him for many years before starting another role with another small company. At this time, she felt very inspired and lucky as there were only two other women in her class and there were essentially no opportunities for females when she was getting started.

Eventually Chiara would go on to take a role as a project manager which was a huge game changer for her! She got to work with every trade on site and was present for every step in whichever projects she was working on. She then received a General Manager position which would lead to her current position as Regional Partner.

In Chiara’s experience, these key skills are what it takes to be successful in the trades:

Chiara believes that the key skills needed for a career in the trades are attention to detail and communication. “Always ask questions!” Chiara explains. She believes you should always understand what it is you’re working on and try to dial into the personality of the person you’re working for, so you can really see their vision. This gives you the opportunity to be creative in giving that person exactly what they are looking for.

Chiara also explained the importance of workplace alignment and how there are so many different trades working on one site therefore, understanding the big picture is key.

Struggles and challenges Chiara faced in the trades:

Chiara explains that one of her biggest struggles coming into the trades was confidence. Coming in as a female, she had no female mentors on the sites she worked on. She felt extremely intimidated, but persevered by pushing through the fear and remembering why she was there. She says “I stayed focused on what I wanted and I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me that I couldn’t do it!”

In her experience in the trades, she says there were a lot of doubts suggesting that it’s not an industry for women. But she felt that the more challenges that came her way, the more she wanted it!

Changes and improvements Chiara hopes to see in the industry to encourage more diversity and inclusion:

“More teaching, embracing and welcoming newcomers.” This is what Chiara believes to be important if we want to inspire inclusion in the trades industry. “The whole ‘sink or swim, tough-love mentality doesn’t serve us anymore!” she says. Chiara believes that, in this generation we have to teach and embrace the people who want to come in. “We can guide them and teach them,” she explains. Chiara makes a great point that if we want people to stay in the trades, we should grow with them rather than push them away.


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