Developers, contractors, unions, associations, and workers are uniting in a growing coalition supporting the Toronto Declaration of Inclusive Workplaces and Communities.
“Systemic racism and discrimination harm our construction industry. Bigotry has no place in our communities, and we commit to standing up for the rights and dignity of all to promote inclusive, equitable, safe, and respectful workplaces,” the Carpenters District Council of Ontario (CDCO) said in a news release.
The Toronto Declaration of Inclusive Workplaces and Communities affirms the health and safety of every person and supports the construction industry’s zero tolerance policy for discrimination or acts of hate of any kind.
Affirmations in the Declaration further the principles of inclusion supported by both the City of Toronto and the unions and employers in the construction industry. The City of Toronto affirmed the Declaration “and encourages those in the construction industry across the province to continue denouncing discrimination and hate in all its forms.
“As Mayor, I have made it clear that racism and discrimination have no place in Toronto. We have met with workers, developers, contractors, unions, and associations to create this Declaration and take a stand together against any form of hatred in our city. This past year, when nooses were found on construction sites in Toronto, we recognized the tragic reality that anti-Black racism continues to exist in our society and that we need to keep doing all we can to bring an end to it,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory.
“We worked together with the industry to find ways to bring an end to racism within the sector. This Declaration was a result of those meetings and an important step in the industry’s plan to move forward, support their employees, and to build a more inclusive workplace for everyone.”
Many employers in the construction industry have not just signed on to this declaration but are taking further action to educate their members about the importance of eliminating racism and discrimination in the industry.
The Carpenters’ District Council (CDCO) is thrilled to see that the Declaration is widely valued and are proud to be a part of this broader industry coalition. “We’re working with a third-party company to deliver anti-racism training for staff, shop stewards, and eventually all of our members,” says Chris Campbell, Equity and Diversity representative for the CDCO.
“Our partners across the labour movement have also begun rolling out this training to their members and we encourage everyone to join us and do the same.” It is the collective responsibility of the industry to demonstrate that construction is a welcoming path for the next generation of tradespeople – regardless of their background.
CDCO member Rokhaya Gueye says the commitment makes carpenters proud.
“I love being a carpenter, and I am proud to be part of an industry that understands the importance of inclusivity and takes the necessary steps to ensure diversity is celebrated every day.”
In the last year, the construction industry – employers and union partners – have been actively speaking out against racism and hate in all its forms and promoting inclusion and diversity on worksites.
EllisDon has hosted diversity and inclusion town halls to discuss these crucial issues with employees, and Daniels has organized site meetings with construction teams to impress the importance of creating inclusive workplaces and to reiterate that there is zero tolerance for discrimination on job sites.
“EllisDon has zero tolerance for racism, and as an employer, we have a pivotal role to play in this movement. We will continue to work closely with our union partners to promote education and action across all areas of our industry,” said Geoff Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, EllisDon.
“Actioning change requires commitment and collaboration in our industry. Daniels has initiated important dialogues with construction unions, associations and industry partners to take a unified stance and engage in conversations at every level to set out clear expectations that racism, prejudice and hate will simply not be tolerated and have no place in our industry,” said Mitchell Cohen, president and CEO, The Daniels Corporation.
Here are some of initiatives underway across the industry:
- Carpenters Local 27 brought forward and signed the Charter of Inclusive Workplaces & Communities in the summer of 2020 as part of a multi-union effort to create safe and respectful workplaces.
- CDCO shared member-focused video content celebrating Black History Month, with BIPOC members of our industry expressing what this month means to them.
- EllisDon appointed Jennifer Khan as head of inclusive diversity, as well as established the Alliance of Black Employee Experience and Leadership (ABEEL) led by engineer Samuel Ajobo.
- Daniels co-hosted a virtual town hall in Regent Park to share updates and actions in response to the hate crime on a Daniels construction site. RESCON, Carpenters’ Local 27 and LiUNA Local 183 participated to engage directly with community stakeholders on broader industry actions against racism and discrimination.
“Over the last year the construction industry has seen many challenges and some despicable acts of racism on our jobsites,” said Mike Yorke, CDCO president. “An incredible coalition of industry employers, unions and associations has worked in collaboration with Toronto Mayor John Tory to craft an industry wide response which includes a Declaration of Inclusive Workplaces and Communities.”