Fourth-year apprentice interviewed on the Iron Workers’ Be That One Guy campaign
This year, the Iron Workers are leading the industry in diversity and inclusion with their Be That One Guy campaign. With women iron workers numbering approximately 2,000 of the iron worker membership, the percentage of women in the iron workers is under two percent.
Women are extremely underrepresented in the building trades as a whole; 97 percent of the workforce is male. Women in the building trades are working hard to break down the perception that they’re working a man’s job.
ST. LOUIS SISTER’S
Lisa Kientzy, a fourth-year apprentice with Iron Workers Local 396 in St. Louis, was featured on the cover of the September issue of The Ironworker. She understands the increasing number of women working in the trades is transforming the tone of the workplace.
“Women on the jobsite are changing the dynamic of the job,” Kientzy said. “So why should they be treated any differently when working side by side with their male co-workers?”
The typical scenario that leads to harassment, bullying or intimidation begins with someone on the jobsite teasing, touching and threatening and/or being demeaning and demanding. The worker being harassed knows their job (and reputation) is at risk if they speak up and they lack the power or authority to stop the harassment from happening.
BE THAT ONE GUY
That’s where Be That One Guy comes into play. Women in the trades want you to Be That One Guy who isn’t afraid to speak up and tell the bully to knock it off. That one guy who isn’t afraid to back up a woman or any other worker when they seek help from a co-worker, foreman, general foreman, superintendent or management. That one guy knows every worker deserves the same respect as he does.
Kientzy said, “Our brothers are vital to what we’re doing. We come in and some guys think we can’t do it, but others are encouraging. We need that. We need that support to know we have someone on our side.”
Tradeswomen and their allies, with support of their unions and industry leaders, are transforming the workplace. Help from co-workers on the job is essential to ending workplace harassment.
The Be That One Guy initiative draws attention to the role of female iron workers and the unique challenges they face on the jobsite, but the campaign isn’t just for women. Harassment and intimidation can happen to anyone. The concept behind Be That One Guy is that all workers deserve respect.
Vicki O’Leary, a sister iron worker and chair of North America’s Building Trades Union Women’s Committee, is a driving force behind the campaign. O’Leary believes the initiative embodies the idea that one iron worker can make it better for everyone on the jobsite.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
“We know our brothers are protective when another trade is bullying one of our own,” O’Leary said. “The real issue is when the harasser is a fellow iron worker and 33 years in this trade has taught me you don’t have to be the hero to make a difference.”
“Calling a brother iron worker out is one option for stopping harassment, but it isn’t the only one. Step in and ask a question or redirect the conversation. Deflect the situation somehow, don’t step aside and let it happen.”
The campaign isn’t focused on lecturing male iron workers, but commending iron worker tradespeople for being some of the most inclusive and professional in the business. Many iron worker members already are that one guy. They understand harassment, bullying and intimidation have no place at the jobsite.
One of those iron workers is Joe “Icepick” Moore. Moore, who has been an iron worker at Local 433 (Los Angeles) for nearly two decades, says he’s not going to stand for harassment on the jobsite.
“I’m not going to put up with it,” he said. “I’m going to say something. See something! Say something!”
The safety mantra applies to harassment, too. Most of the iron worker membership recognizes harassment as a safety concern.
Whether you’re the aggressor, a witness or the victim—if there is harassment and bullying on the jobsite, your focus isn’t where it should be: on the work. That’s when mistakes and accidents happen. Harassment puts every worker on a jobsite at risk.
Kathleen Dobson is a safety director with Alberici Constructors, and from her vantage point, the initiative is essential for progression within the building trades. Be That One Guy, who gives a woman a chance, who gives her the opportunity to prove herself as a foreman or a supervisor.
SUCCESS SHOWS OTHER WOMEN
IRON WORKING IS VIABLE OPTION
“When women are successful within the ironworking industry, it’s going to show other women that it is a viable option for them to get into productive, higher paying, better positions,” Dobson said.
She urges workers on the jobsite to personalize the issue. “Think about how you would feel if someone was talking like that to your own daughter,” she said.
ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN
The Be That One Guy campaign debuted at the 2017 Iron Workers/IMPACT conference. The initiative urges everyone to make a conscious choice to take the high road no matter who the aggressor is. It challenges ironworkers to be better. Be respectful. Be aware. Be able to say, “I AM That One Guy.”
(Reprinted from The Ironworker, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers)