National Task Force on Tradeswomen's issues

"Build Back Better" with a Diverse Workforce: Equity for Women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in Infrastructure Jobs

August, 2021

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan is a policy platform that meets the moment we find ourselves in – reckoning with systemic inequities and grappling with a public health crisis.


That plan will create a need for tens of thousands of new jobs in the construction trades, presenting a unique opportunity to disrupt the entrenched, historic patterns of discrimination in those skilled, high-wage occupations.


Building back better must mean ensuring a diverse construction-trades workforce is included. We cannot achieve a full economic recovery if women and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) – populations that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, and most underrepresented in the construction sector– do not fully participate in the job market at all levels.,  


We call on Congress and the Biden Administration to insert in any budget reconciliation bill effective measures that increase opportunities for women and BIPOC to enter and succeed in the construction-trades workforce. These measures include:


·      Supportive Services:  Mandatory spending for supportive services like childcare and pre-apprenticeship programs that remove barriers and maximize opportunities for women and BIPOC.


·      Goals: Project-wide numeric participation goals for the percentage of total work-hours that are worked by women and BIPOC, disaggregated by race and ethnicity.


·      Transparency:  frequently updated reporting on the participation goals and actual hours worked on a public website.


·      Respect:  Safe, respectful work sites that are free from bullying, hazing, harassment and discrimination. 


·      Community:  Monitoring of compliance with these requirements by committees of community-based organizations and labor representatives and by ombudspersons who monitor conditions, provide support and assistance, and mediate issues.


·      Early Notice:E Advance notice of these requirements to all contractors and subcontractors in bid specifications.


·      Oversight:  Robust agency oversight of compliance with these requirements through compliance reviews and appropriate sanctions for noncompliance.


·      Expert assistance:  Technical assistance to contractors for increasing participation of underrepresented populations in their workforces.



These recommendations are broadly supported by the more than 200 organizations and individuals across the country that are listed below.  This list includes the Iron Workers International union, rank-and-file building trades workers, all the major tradeswomen’s organizations, construction companies and leaders in major construction companies, equity researchers, and women’s, civil-rights and worker-rights groups.


As tradeswomen, organizations that serve tradeswomen and allies, our experience is that merely encouraging contractors to hire women and BIPOC is insufficient. Unless conditions are clearly stated and tied to funding, progress will simply not be made.


For more information, please see our Framework for Equity in Infrastructure Workforce or contact National Taskforce on Tradeswomen’s Issues Co-Chairs Connie Ashbrook ( or Leah Rambo (