Painting Walls and Breaking Barriers
08/10/2021 | Stephanie Castillo |
THE PUSH TO LEVEL THE PAINTING FIELD
When it comes to professional paint contracting, it's still a man's world. According to Zippia, 80% of painting contractors in the United States are men, with as little as 14% of women in the workforce. But two organizations are trying to change that. Tradeswomen, Inc. focuses on recruiting more women for pre-apprenticeship training programs, and also on providing support to women while they are pursuing a career in the construction and painting trades. One Treasure Island provides construction (including painting) training and job placement to help disadvantaged people build successful careers in the trades.
Tradeswomen, Inc. Program Manager Susie Suafa’i explains, "Our business is to get more women in building and construction trades—and painting is a part of that. People might think that painting is just picking up a roller and just slapping it on, but as you know, there's a real science behind paint."
As part of its mission, the organization has partnered on apprenticeship programs so that women can start making a living in the business, even while they're still learning. Earlier this year, they worked with One Treasure Island on a three-day pilot training program to increase the number of women participants. And it was successful, two of the women attending the program went on to become senior painting apprentices within a matter of weeks.
In addition to technical training, One Treasure Island also provides soft skills and financial literacy training—two critical factors that can impact a candidate's hire-ability, potential to stay and grow on the job, and ability to eventually start their own painting business, should they wish to do so. Employment Program Director Alex Francois has found that financial literacy training builds an important foundation, particularly for low-income and homeless participants of the program. "The financial literacy training has a long-lasting value—we've found that there is a direct correlation between keeping a job and understanding how credit, budgeting, and savings can help build personal wealth over time," he says.
But the programs are not without challenges. Suafa'i says, "We've worked very hard to get women into painting apprenticeship programs, but smaller painting companies— which make up the majority of the contracting side—have been reluctant to hire women because of the perception that women can’t meet the physical demands of the job." But that is largely due to a misconception. Studies have shown that although there are differences in absolute strength between men and women, strength per lean body weight and upper to lower body ratios for strength and endurance are similar. Moreover, modern tools and working methods mean that brute strength is less of a requirement for painters than factors such as endurance, attention to detail, and technical skill. Some research even shows that women bring a unique set of traits that can be an asset to painting companies: in general, they tend to pay more attention to detail, keep work areas tidier, practice better hygiene, are more loyal employees, and waste fewer raw materials.
The key to persuading more businesses to hire diverse candidates is going to be providing painters-in-training with a solid background of knowledge and skills so that they are ready to work on day one. In partnership with Dunn-Edwards, Tradeswomen, Inc., and One Treasure Island are launching introductory painting programs that are like "Basic Training" for new recruits. They will come out of the program with an understanding of techniques, best practices, materials, and paint formulation specs.
For companies, hiring painters from more diverse backgrounds is not just a nice thing to do, it can be more profitable too. A recent study by McKinsey shows that companies with more diverse staff have 2.3 times higher cash flow and are 70% more likely to capture new markets. That's because employees from different genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds bring with them a diversity of experiences, viewpoints, solutions, and potential new business contacts that can help a business grow its customer base.
Visit Tradeswomen, Inc. and One Treasure Island to sign up for a training program. For more information on hiring diverse painting candidates near you, reach out to your local Dunn-Edwards Sales Representative.