Building bridges across the Atlantic
A delegation of tradeswomen from North America were introduced to the Buying Social Justice project at a research forum hosted by the University of Westminster on 14 June 2022. The purpose of the event was to share research on how to increase the numbers of tradeswomen, including sessions on female leadership and climate literacy and zero carbon construction.
Lead researcher Professor Tessa Wright told delegates that the Buying Social Justice project is investigating whether social procurement can be an effective tool for increasing diversity in the UK construction workforce. The project is seeking examples of where local authorities, universities, housing associations or other public projects have harnessed their spending power to gain additional social value or community benefits from construction projects, in particular those that benefit under-represented groups.
The 40-strong delegation from Tradeswomen Building Bridges were in London on a 10-day visit to build networks and support with UK and European tradeswomen. In addition to the research forum, they visited construction sites at Battersea Power Station, HS2 Euston, Canary Wharf and Blossom Street, as well as the College of North East London and West London College. The delegation received a tour of Holloway Prison prior to its demolition. The prison, which became known for its health and support services for women prisoners, was closed in 2016, with the land to be used for housing. Tradeswomen Building Bridges were welcomed by Reclaim Holloway, a coalition fighting for the Holloway site to be used for collective good, including the establishment of a women’s building to honour the legacy of Holloway, and by Community Plan for Holloway, a campaign working to ensure that the Islington community is at the heart of plans for the redevelopment of Holloway prison and that women are involved in the planning, and building of this new development. The delegates were also welcomed at receptions held at the Houses of Parliament, hosted by Emily Thornberry MP and the Chartered Institute for Building, and by the London Borough of Islington.
Of particular interest to the Buying Social Justice project are four best practice case studies
presented by the delegation in London of successful regional strategies in Canada and the United
States where the percent of women in the trades is now equal to or greater than 10%. The case
studies draw on examples from Seattle Washington; Canada’s Office to Advance Women
Apprentices; Massachusetts and Oregon Metro.
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A recording of the research forum is available here.