How exciting is it to write an article on why hiring a woman should be a part of your thinking with that next hire? I, like many people (not just women but men as well), stumbled into this industry. Having taught high school English for four years, I didn’t even know an industry such as ours existed. And if I had any conscious recognition of it, my assumption would have been that it was for engineers or people who wanted to work on the air conditioner or heater. (My Texas upbringing is showing.)
The point being is that 30 years ago upon my entry into HVACR, we were an invisible industry and today we still remain so to most young people – men or women. So for career opportunities, the industry is not on the radar. And this is in spite of the fact that Monster.com states that an HVAC mechanic is one of the top 10 highest paying two-year degree opportunities.
So the first answer to the question of why women should enter this industry is opportunity and money. With the shortage of skilled application and mechanical engineers, technicians and plumbers, our industry will continue to require more people for the foreseeable future and it is an industry recognized to pay well. So the opportunities for women are abundant.
Next, this industry needs women. What we bring is an ability to listen, to translate technical language into consumer language, to recognize needs and provide solutions. When I entered the industry, I didn’t know the difference between a heater, a standard furnace, a condenser, an evaporative coil and an air conditioner. Yet, I was hired to write and edit training materials. I didn’t know the technical jargon, but I did know how to communicate and how to explain technical information in a way that students learning the industry could grasp. This is a skill that many women have based on our willingness to ask questions and or for clarification when we don’t understand. I never encountered anyone who wasn’t willing to help me learn the technical aspects of the industry.
This industry also needs motivators. This is another role women do well. We long ago learned how to motivate siblings, our children, spouses, and employees to reach for more, to accomplish things they didn’t always know they were capable of. In one of my first major career promotions, I had to create a department that had never existed in the company before. I had to create goals, hire people to accomplish these goals, and motivate them when we were all tired and somewhat despondent. Women do these activities in their everyday lives so why not apply these same skills in an industry that desperately needs them?
Focus and priorities are often missing elements in many businesses. HVACR businesses have a tendency to run in one direction for a while and then an opportunity - sometimes good, but often not - cause the company to change course and move in another direction without a lot of analysis or forethought on whether the company and the skill sets of the employees are ready for the new course of action.
Yes, change is often necessary, but once again, I think women bring clarity of purpose and focus on priorities as part of our skill sets. We have had a great deal of practice organizing and staying focused on what needs to be accomplished today, this week, and this month both at work and at home. Many times in my career in the industry, I have been tempted or even on occasion altered my focus, only eventually to realize that my skill sets and my personal satisfaction required me to be in the role of educating and helping others realize their potential in their jobs or their businesses. I think women bring that ability to the companies that they work for or the companies that they own.
Some of the most successful women I know own HVACR businesses. They bring their skills of organization, prioritization, motivation, and genuine care and concern for employees and customers to their businesses. No wonder women owners are so successful.
One of the new buzz words in the world of business is gamification. So many young people have grown up playing games on their computers and internet that the concept has carried over into the business world. The younger generation wants to like where she or he works. They want to have fun at work. And who better than a woman to understand how much more effective and efficient people are if work seems like fun? (If you question this logic, just watch the next time a Mom gets toys cleaned up with a timed race.) I always understood the importance of making work fun. At one point, in my career, I had a department of 80 people and once a quarter, we organized a “fun day.” One time, we went bowling at two in the afternoon. Another time, we had a road rally with clues. Work for all of us can sometimes be drudgery so from time to time, do something fun and let women help you with that.
Yes, I stumbled into this industry, but don’t let my mistake become yours. Instead, seek out this industry if you are a woman or if you are looking for an employee, make sure you are including women in that search.
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