Construction Safety Nova Scotia achieves gender parity

50 percent of board members are women following 30th annual general meeting

Construction Safety Nova Scotia achieves gender parity
Construction Safety Nova Scotia annual general meeting held on May 16

Construction Safety Nova Scotia (CSNS) recently celebrated a significant milestone at its 30th annual general meeting: achieving gender parity on its Board of Directors. This accomplishment marks a major step forward for the organization and the broader construction industry in Nova Scotia.

"Over the last four years, the Board of Directors set a goal to increase gender diversity and representation on the board. With the approval of our most recent slate of Directors, now 50 per cent of our board members are women," exclaims Milton Howley, chair of the board. "As the construction industry and skilled trades continue to grow and attract more people into the industry, we are proud to have a board with strong female representation."

The journey towards this achievement began in 2020 when CSNS established a committee dedicated to recruiting and screening nominations for the board. This proactive approach involved a thorough interview process to ensure a diverse pool of candidates. The result: an equitable gender split among the 16 new and returning directors, representing a wide range of sectors within the construction industry.

"In 2020, we took a look around the table and decided we needed to make a change," Howley explains. "We put together a subgroup of our board to help us recruit and screen nominations. Through that process, we now have eight women on our board. We're very excited that it didn't take long and wasn't difficult to find great candidates."

The benefits of this new, diverse board are manifold. Gender parity brings a variety of perspectives and ideas, which is crucial for the dynamic and evolving field of occupational health and safety. Howley emphasized the importance of this diversity in driving innovation and inclusivity within the industry. "It helps the board open up to new ideas and different opinions. In the past, our board was very male-dominated and similar in personalities and direction. This change helps us see not just how we're changing but also how the world around us is changing."

CSNS's commitment to diversity extends beyond gender. Howley notes the organization aims to reflect the broader population of Nova Scotia by including people from racial minority groups and those with disabilities. "Our job isn't done. We need to continue to look at the board because we want to be reflective of the population of Nova Scotia," he says. "We've made a really good leap forward, but there's still more work to be done."

The 30th annual general meeting was not only a celebration of gender parity but also an opportunity to honor safety excellence within the industry. The event featured keynote speaker Candace Carnahan and recognized outstanding companies and individuals with various safety awards. Among the winners were Andrea Giles of Solar Ascent, who received the Women in Safety Leadership Award, and Mervyn McClay of Data Wiring Solutions Inc., who was honored with the Safety Champion Award.

Reflecting on these achievements, Howley highlights the broader impact on the industry. "By putting a focus on diversity, we've taken a real step forward in making sure that everyone feels safe and welcome on a construction site in Nova Scotia. It's about changing the culture."

For other organizations looking to make similar strides, Howley offers simple but powerful advice: "Change is a good thing. The best way to embrace change is by doing. Start taking action now, because there are great candidates out there with excellent ideas."

As CSNS moves forward with a more diverse board and a continued commitment to safety, the organization sets a powerful example for the construction industry in Nova Scotia and beyond.