Respect not protect

The trades are a great place to work. They’re even better when everyone feels welcome.

Being the only woman in a workplace can be intimidating at first, but nobody is asking for special treatment. Women want what everyone wants, wherever they work – support, respect, kindness, hospitality. Manaakitanga goes a long way.

Before she starts, take time to sit down and talk through the changes you might need to make. Let your staff know that you have hired a woman and ask them to have an open mind.

— Andrew, Dunedin, Trades Employer

I have two daughters and we want them to believe that they can do anything. We have a zero-tolerance attitude to sexual harassment. No one should have to put up with bullshit. I told the guys that we are hiring women, “So suck it up buttercup!” We have toolbox meetings where we cover off with the guys; sexual harassment, tradie banter, toilet manners, and respect! As an industry, we need to be encouraging each other.

Mark, Wellington Trades Employer

6 tips for interacting with the women in your team

  1. Listen more and talk less.
  2. Be authentic and respectful. Translation: Don’t be a dick.
  3. Praise women coworkers on their abilities, offer solutions that have worked for you and ask for their input and opinions. Remember — listen more than talk.
  4. If you worry that building a professional relationship with a woman colleague could be prone to confusion, keep it professional. Ask yourself, ‘Would I say the same thing to one of the guys? Or just to a woman?’
  5. Don’t make assumptions about your women coworkers’ backgrounds. Ask questions and listen to the answers before making any assessments that your female coworkers are less experienced than you, need your help, or at a lower place in the pecking order.
  6. Watch that the banter doesn’t become bullshit, and the bullshit becomes bullying.

You don’t need to protect her. just to respect her.

And these tips make sense, regardless of the genders involved. Professionalism and respect are two things that help you grow your network in the workplace and your industry.