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Smith College is committed to fair labor practices, and has a long history of successful construction projects on campus utilizing a diverse mix of contractors. Such projects include the Schacht Center, Ford Hall, Campus Center, the Friedman Apartments, and the renovation of Cutter and Ziskind houses.

As a selective college dedicated to women’s education, the college also sought to improve participation of women/minority workforce labor and business enterprises in the Neilson Library construction project.

For the Neilson Library project, Smith established goals for women/minority workforce labor and business enterprises. “Workforce” refers to the actual labor force on the project, i.e., the identity, whether minority or woman, of individual workers. MBE refers to Minority-owned Business Enterprise, and WBE refers to Woman-owned Business Enterprise.

The targeted goals for participation were 7% women workforce, 16% minority workforce, and 12% MBE/WBE combined. These goals were informed by approaches taken by other similar projects. A review committee formed to allow for transparent discussions on the successes and challenges related to achieving these goals.

During the course of construction, Smith and Shawmut Design and Construction, which served as a key partner and the construction manager for the project, monitored the percentages of women and minorities participating in each of the various trades and encouraged contractors to assist with the overall hiring goals for the project.

Shawmut is also signatory to the local carpenters and laborers union, which means that all general labor and carpentry work on Neilson was performed by union workers. The Springfield Local 108 Carpenters and Laborers Union has been particularly focused on improving representation of women in the workforce, which carried into the Neilson project through their connection with Shawmut.

The Neilson project provided a critical opportunity to further understand the labor market for Western Massachusetts and to generate knowledge from the successes and challenges in meeting the targets for Neilson. Smith will continue to evaluate the success of these goals for their intended purpose and consider a wider application.

Smith College Facilities Management