BE 4 ALL

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

 

Launched in December 2021, the BE 4 ALL initiative is a joint effort of SMACNA, SMART, and the International Training Institute (iTi). BE 4 ALL seeks to positively impact the industry’s work culture so that SMACNA contractors can attract and retain the best and most skilled workforce possible regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or nationality. BE 4 ALL will help SMACNA, and our members meet the real-world demand for the best, and most qualified workforce available for our industry, without quotas or other arbitrary demands on companies.  
 
Please take a moment to review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding BE 4 ALL and its objectives.


 

Questions

BE 4 ALL is a joint effort of SMACNA, SMART and the iTi. The vision for the work is two-fold:

  1. To create a diverse and inclusive unionized sheet metal industry that is welcoming and fosters belonging for ALL people and;
  2. To sustain a thriving industry in which:
    • we recruit, train and retain the best talent
    • workers and contractors strive to achieve the highest standards of performance and excellence in their technical skills and crafts
    • we maintain high employment standards, and
    • we avoid quotas or arbitrary and unhelpful hiring goals

Here's a helpful way to think about the difference between the three terms:

  • Diversity means that everyone – regardless of their race, gender identity, age or other identity strands – is invited to participate in and benefit from our industry.
  • Inclusion means that everyone has a seat at the table and has a way to make their voices heard.
  • Belonging goes much deeper than diversity and inclusion. It means two things:
    1. That when people come to the table, they feel that they can bring their full, authentic self, ALL part of who they are as a human being and;
    2. Belonging is also about building the table together. It's about co-creating. To put it another way, transforming our industry and ensuring that we remain relevant and competitive will take all-hands-on-deck. We will only be successful if we're working on this endeavor TOGETHER. BE 4 ALL is the vehicle for how we do this.

For 2022–2023, we have a four-part agenda for our work. The four parts are as follows:

  1. Assessment — Survey and interview contractors and chapter leaders across the industry to better understand their hopes, wants, needs, and fears related to the BE 4 ALL work.
  2. Awareness – Conduct training sessions – for SMACNA National staff, chapter executives and chapter leaders   -- focused on strategies for reducing bias and increasing belonging.  SMART is likewise conducting training of international staff, business managers and key leaders in their organization.  The iTi is also training their staff and JATC coordinators.
  3. Alignment – Work with SMACNA’s newly-formed BE 4 ALL committee to convert the findings we get from the assessment process into concrete action steps.  And meet quarterly with SMART and iTi to explore ways to collaborate across the industry.
  4. Act – Begin implementation of the action steps.

Without question, BE 4 ALL is for ALL members and contractors.  We believe that EVERY human being (with an emphasis on the word “every”) should experience belonging (see the definition for bullet # 2), regardless of your race, gender identity, etc.  But we also know that, currently, this is not the case for some groups.  So, BE 4 ALL may need to tailor and target programs and strategies to ensure that particular groups have what they need to reach the universal goal of belonging.  But make no mistakes about it, BE 4 ALL is for the benefit of ALL contractors and their bargaining and non-bargaining staff.

BE 4 ALL’s efforts address one of our industries most pressing needs, that of recruiting enough skilled workers to meet our workforce needs now and, in the future.

The short answer is, no.  We’ve all heard the reports.  Across the country, meetings turning into shouting matches.  People blaming and shaming each other.  This is NOT what BE 4 ALL is about.  Yes, the work of belonging requires that, sometimes, we’ll need to have hard conversations.  But it also requires that we treat each other with dignity, respect and compassion.  It requires that we see our common humanity in other people.

We’re still in the planning stages.  But over the next few years, we expect to begin seeing results in five key areas.  They are:

  1. Expansion – expanding and diversifying the pool of people from which we recruit.
  2. Recruitment – proactively recruiting NEW workers, both bargaining and non-bargaining, into our industry.
  3. Training – equipping them with the skills, tools and values they need to be successful.
  4. Retention – creating the type of work and business environments where people want to stay.  And where they can imagine a long career of service and contribution.
  5. Advancement – helping workers climb the “ladder” into leadership positions or other opportunities.  

BE 4 ALL is not a quick fix project.  As one person recently put it, this is “forever” work.  That said, to truly transform an entire industry will take years.  However, we plan to set annual benchmarks to ensure that we’re making progress along the way.  Stay tuned for our plan for 2022–2023, which will include measurable goals.  

BE 4 ALL is guided by a diverse committee of contractors, their management representatives, chapter executives and SMACNA leaders from the United States and Canada. The committee makes recommendations to SMACNA’s CEO and, if needed, the Executive Committee who will take appropriate recommendations to the SMACNA Board.

SMART has a similar structure.

The leadership and committees for both organizations, SMACNA and SMART, along with iTi, meet quarterly to plan and coordinate BE 4 ALL activities across the industry.  

Absolutely not.  At the recent Partners In Progress (PinP) Conference in Las Vegas, Tim Carter, Northwest Regional Council President for SMART, and Julie Muller, Executive Director for SMACNA’s Western Washington Chapter, shared that they’ve seen a “dramatic reduction” in the wash out rates for women and people of color apprentices.  They reported that they achieved this by “raising the bar,” not lowering it.  Specifically, they improved the quality of training and support provided to apprentices to ensure that each person had what they needed to perform at the highest standards of excellence.  Their approach reinforced two things:  a) this work is NOT about lowering standards and b) the work of belonging does not view people as inadequate or deficient.  It sees talent and potential in all human beings.  And it’s our job to nurture it. 

This is an excellent question.  Yes, long term, the goal is to build workplaces (and a society) where we celebrate our shared humanity.  And where we appreciate ALL the ways that human beings are diverse or different.  But in order to reach this goal, we have to remove the barriers that get in the way.  These include the biases and stereotypes about each other that we’ve ALL internalized (oftentimes, unconsciously) over the course of our lives.  These biases and stereotypes may stem from the places where we grew up.  Or the schools we attended.  Or the families in which we were raised.  So, yes, getting to the point where we treat each other like human beings is the ultimate goal.  BE 4 ALL is the pathway for how we get there.  

If you want to learn more about, BE 4 ALL or if you’re looking to get involved, please reach out to Joye Blanscett at SMACNA National at jblanscett@smacna.org.