"No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens." - Michelle Obama
Great strides have been made towards gender equality in the workplace, but disparities between men and women continue to exist. And in traditionally male-dominated industries like plumbing, construction, electrical, HVAC and pest control, it's an even bigger challenge for women to get the compensation and recognition their male peers receive.
Because the 2023 theme for Women's Month is 'accelerating socio-economic opportunities for women's empowerment', we wanted to highlight the challenges women face in the industry and look at how field service companies like yours can tackle these challenges to build a culture of inclusivity.
Challenges women face in field services
- While progress has been made to include women in field services, they still face many obstacles that make it challenging for them to advance their careers:
- Field service jobs are often seen as physically demanding and traditionally masculine roles. These beliefs can lead to the idea that women are not as capable of performing these tasks, despite their qualifications. As a result, women may find it difficult to advance in their careers.
- Women are often paid less than men for performing the same job. Wage gaps undervalue the work done by women, which suggests that their labour is worth less. Unequal pay may discourage women from pursuing career development opportunities, as they know fair compensation may not be rewarded, no matter how hard they work.
Lack of supportive policies
- Many companies in the industry don't have adequate supportive workplace policies, which means there's little to no support for pregnant employees and mothers in the workplace. A lack of supportive policies could affect these employees' performance, potentially disadvantaging them.
- Women in male-dominated fields may experience isolation at work, which can affect job satisfaction and performance. Isolation isn't only a hurdle for female employees. As an employer, you may struggle to attract and retain women because of the isolation they face once they enter the field.
Resistance to change
- Because the field service industry has historically been male-dominated, resistance to change could make it challenging for women to break into the sector or rise through the ranks.
- Unconscious biases can affect decision-making processes related to hiring, promotions, and opportunities, potentially putting women at a disadvantage.
The value of building a culture of inclusivity
- Building a culture of inclusivity is not only beneficial for your employees but the success and growth of your organisation.
- Here's why fostering a culture of inclusivity is a valuable strategy:
- Diversity of perspectives: An inclusive culture brings a range of views and ideas to the table. Women may have experiences, insights, and problem-solving approaches that can contribute to more effective decision-making.
- Talent attraction and retention: When women see that you value their contributions and provide equal opportunities, they'll want to work for and stay at your company, helping you attract and retain a skilled, loyal workforce.
- Enhanced creativity and innovation: A diverse group of people with different experiences and viewpoints is more likely to generate innovative ideas and creative solutions, helping you improve problem-solving.
- Improved employee performance: When employees, regardless of gender, feel valued and respected, they tend to be more engaged and motivated. An inclusive environment can boost employee satisfaction and performance, leading to higher productivity and better results.
- Positive reputation and brand image: Prioritising inclusivity and gender equality can help you build a positive brand image. Clients and female employees will want to be associated with a progressive and socially responsible business.
How to build a culture of inclusivity
- Women's Month gives us a chance to shine a spotlight on the issues women face in field services. But creating a workplace where women have the same opportunities as men is something your business should be doing all year round. And we've highlighted some of the ways you can do this:
Equal pay and fair compensation
- Review your pay practices to ensure compensation is equitable. Implement transparent and fair compensation structures that reward employees based on skills, experience, and contributions rather than gender. Fair compensation not only helps you foster inclusivity but attract and retain employees of all genders.
Safe and respectful work environment
- When employees, including women, feel safe and respected, they can focus on their work, leading to higher productivity and improved performance. To create a safe and respectful environment, enforce a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or discrimination. Encourage employees to report inappropriate behaviour and ensure such reports are handled promptly and confidentially.
Supportive workplace policies
- Supportive workplace policies can help you attract and retain skilled female workers. Policies like maternity leave and breastfeeding support help create a positive, inclusive, safe environment where women know they'll get the support they need to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Promote gender-neutral language and practices
- Adopt gender-neutral language and avoid using stereotypes in job descriptions, communications and company materials. Challenging traditional norms and promoting gender-neutral language in a male-dominated industry can be difficult, but it's vital to creating an inclusive environment.
- Mentorship programmes can be a powerful tool for creating a more inclusive environment for women in your business. Pair women with experienced mentors who can give them the guidance and advice they need to develop leadership skills and grow their careers. These programmes can prepare female workers to step into leadership positions and mentor other women in the future.
Representation in leadership
- Actively work to increase the representation of women in leadership. When women see other women in leadership positions, it can inspire them to pursue professional development. Use the mentorship programmes mentioned to develop your female workforce's leadership skills, so they're ready to take on positions of authority in your company.
Recruitment and hiring practices
- Review and adjust your recruitment and hiring processes to ensure that they are free from bias. To make your recruitment and hiring practices more inclusive, review and update job descriptions to include gender-neutral terms, implement blind resume screening, and train your recruitment team on unconscious bias, diversity, and inclusion to minimise biases during the selection process.
Creating an inclusive workplace for women is an ongoing endeavour that requires commitment from leadership and a willingness to learn and evolve. By building a culture of inclusivity, you can attract and retain a diverse workforce that contributes to the success and growth of your field service business.