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Launch of the APECQ women’s mentorship program

October 25, 2016

On October 15, 2016, the Association patronale des entreprises en construction du Québec (APECQ) launched its mentorship program aimed at professional women and female contractors in the industry.

The 14 mentees and 14 mentors in the first cohort were invited to a training session on initiation to mentorship, followed by a series of “speed meetings” before the pairings were made.

The mentees are women in managerial positions, including company owners, architects, and project managers. Working in different spheres of activity, the mentors – 11 women and three men – each have a minimum of eight years of experience in the construction industry.

Read some testimonials from mentees and mentor (s) 

In the Québec construction industry, only 1.48% of workers on construction sites are women, and women account for just 10% of the professionals; these are the lowest proportions among all provinces in Canada. In cooperation with other actors in the sector, the APECQ has committed itself to increasing the number of women permanently in the industry, and to support them in meeting the challenges they face at different stages of their careers.

The executive director of the APECQ, Daniel Barbeau, welcomed the participants. “It is not acceptable for women to be excluded from such a lively sector of the economy,” he told them. “We will encourage their integration, and their access to managerial positions, with concrete initiatives such as this mentorship program that is beginning. In Québec, we are the first employer association in the industry to offer such a program.”

“Women must be able to flourish professionally in an open and egalitarian environment,” he added. “And a mix of men and women is an important aspect of our efforts to modernize our industry and establish a culture based on openness.”

The CCQ embraces the APECQ initiative and views the presence of women in decision-making positions on Québec construction projects as a positive factor in integrating more tradeswomen onto construction sites.

Mentorship: A formula to favour for tomorrow’s managers

In 2015, in partnership with Les Elles de la construction, the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ), and several private firms, the APECQ obtained a substantial grant from Status of Women Canada to implement the mentorship program. The grant, spread over three years, enables the program to have a full-time coordinator, Laurence Matte Guilmain, who holds a master’s degree in industrial relations.

“First, we conducted a requirements study. As mentorship has proved to be valuable to professionals aspiring to managerial positions, it was among this category of women workers that we recruited the future mentees.”

Through this method of knowledge transmission, the mentees receive advice from an experienced person on developing their leadership and other knowledge-related skills, which will enable them to reach their targeted objectives. The Programme de mentorat de l’APECQ: la construction de demain! provides them with the framework they need to undertake these steps successfully.

Guilmain explains, “Among the obstacles facing professional women in the construction industry are prejudices about their competence. More than for men at the same stage in their career, women’s capacity to manage teams, and projects, is thrown into doubt. Thanks to mentorship, they will be better equipped to break through the glass ceiling that keeps them from advancing professionally.”

The pairs will begin their mentorship relationship in November. The 15-month mentorship will involve monthly meetings. Thematic workshops will also be offered during the program.

A blog will enable participants, and anyone interested in this initiative, to follow its evolution at http://www.apecq.org/00APECQ/mentorat