This Toronto company is breaking barriers for women in construction
A construction company in Toronto is breaking barriers for women wanting to work within the industry.
Natasha Ferguson is the owner of Ethelfox Construct Group, a company made up of 70 per cent of female construction workers.
They focus on interior and exterior home renovations, including tiling and flooring, roofing, and drywall installation.
Through her journey to owning Ethelfox, Ferguson went through many teachable moments — moments that made her realize just how racist and misogynistic the construction industry can be.
"It's a male-dominated industry, and it's not nice," said Ferguson.
Ferguson was working in ad agencies before she got her start in the trades. About five years ago, she started two companies for roofing and landscaping with her husband, who also works in construction.
In her experience owning these companies, Ferguson says she was hardly taken seriously by those she interacted with on a daily basis.
"There would be times where I would hire contractors and they would mess up my projects on purpose just because they don't take me seriously as a woman," said Ferguson.
Other times, contractors would get frustrated with her projects and just get up and leave the site without telling her anything, Ferguson tells blogTO.
"I would think to myself 'I'm paying people, why is this happening?' but it's because of where I'm at in the industry, it's all about who's ball are bigger, and I don't have balls," said Ferguson.
All of this experience made Ferguson realize how much women, but especially women of colour, were mistreated in the industry. She used this as fuel to start up Ethelfox.
In 2020, Ferguson learned that her mother only had three months to live, after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.
Ethelfox was named after Ferguson's mother and youngest daughter, the mother helped with rebranding the company, including choosing the logo before she died.
On top of creating a team of female workers at Ethelfox construction, Ferguson just started up a non-profit group called A Woman's Work.
The group provides resources, training programs and support for how women can handle themselves when entering into such a male-dominated industry.
Recently, Ethefox was recognized as one of the Best Businesses in Canada by the Canadian Business Review Board.
Additionally, the company won $5,000 to grow their business through the City of Toronto's Starter Company Female Founders Program.
"My team and I are unique. Not just because we are women working in this industry, but because we are women who do viable work," said Ferguson.
"Each one of my team members is coming from a place of new beginnings and so I am excited to continue to provide leadership, while we change the ideas around gender bias narratives and stereotypes around women in the construction industry."
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