Lowe’s projects that uplift women into skilled trades

by | Mar 20, 2024

Women around the Unites States celebrated Women in Construction Week recently – and with significant growth in the industry, there has been a lot to praise. According to a new survey by Yelp, women are diving into traditionally male-dominated spaces, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and skilled trades professions. Female-backed home service listings have also jumped by 38 per cent between 2022 and 2023.

The timing could not be better for women to get into the trades and helping them take those first steps is part of the Lowe’s Foundation’s mission to create an on-ramp for women to enter the skilled trade industry. On top of a commitment over five years of $50 million to help invest in programs that are recruiting, training, and preparing, individuals for careers in the skilled trades, the foundation is committed to being hands-on, too.

A Lowe’s force supported one of its newest Gable Grants recipients, She Built This City, at its community build day, lending a hand to assemble picnic tables and benches to be placed around Charlotte. Betsy Conway, Director of Lowe’s Foundation, believes women are a major untapped resource in the trades, and getting them involved is crucial to bridging the gap of skilled trade workers in the US.

“It is an exciting time to be a woman in construction. There is so much opportunity, with over half a million additional tradespeople needed this year alone. To address this crisis, we are looking for innovative, inclusive, and scalable programs that attract new individuals into this field,” Ms Conway said.

Innovative programs like She Built This City, Chicago Women in Trades, and West Virginia Women Work were recently announced as Lowe’s Foundation Gable Grant recipients. Each of these programs focuses its attention and resources on getting women into the trades and making it a better space for women to work.

LaToya Faustin, Executive Director of She Built This City, says women bring unique and innate skills to the trades, like detail orientation, collaboration, and conflict resolution.

“There is a saying in an African proverb: ‘When you invest in a woman, she brings at least six people out of poverty with her’. It is usually a son, daughter, cousin, uncle, or someone else she will be bringing along into the space. So, investing in that woman is changing not just her life but also her family’s life – enabling you to have more loyal people in your organization,” Ms Faustin said.

Katie Haller is part of the two-year apprenticeship program at She Built This City and switched to skilled trade work after six years of online retail work. Katie hopes to flip homes one day, but even the basic skills she has been learning are having an impact.

“It is very empowering. I love saving money, so I am sure it will be great when I have a home someday,” she said.

Other Lowe’s Foundation Gable Grants recipients are facilitating similar life-changing experiences for women. For example, West Virginia Women Work empowers women to explore and secure employment in construction and manufacturing across the state. The nonprofit is using its Gable Grant to implement a Step Up for Women program to offer a multifaceted approach to career placement.

“It is not just about numbers. Bringing women into the trades enriches the whole industry with different viewpoints and innovative approaches, leading to better work practices, safety measures, and problem-solving strategies. Through our Step Up for Women Pre-apprenticeship programs, we are not only equipping women with the skills they need for these careers but also working to change how society views the trades – as a fulfilling and accessible career path for everyone,” Heather Shockney, Chief Operations Officer at West Virginia Women Work said.

Together with Lowe’s championing programs that uplift underrepresented communities to skilled trades, women are helping patch up the skilled trades crisis.