Gender Diversity in HVACR

A diverse pool of talent provides great resources for companies in any industry to continually profit from new ideas and approaches. According to a recent Forbes article, diverse companies can become more profitable in the monetary sense, too. 

A recent McKinsey report found “ companies on executive-level gender diversity worldwide had a 21 percent likelihood of outperforming their fourth-quartile industry peers on EBIT margin, and they also had a 27 percent likelihood of outperforming fourth-quartile peers on longer-term value creation, as measured using an economic-profit (EP) margin”. Bottom line, what does that mean? Gender equality pays.

Despite all of this, women are severely underrepresented in the HVACR Industry. A recent article in the News, titled: “Women Are Actively Changing the Face of the HVACR Industry” points out that in 2017, women represented 47 percent of the U.S. labor force, but in HVACR, only 2 percent of the 448,000 people in the industry are women. As the article says, “For contractors looking to grow their workforce, numbers like these represent huge potential.” “And for women seeking a career in the skilled trades, it’s a win-win situation: reliable work and a job market that’s starved for talent.”

Why Few Female Candidates?

Certainly, HVAC is an attractive field for many reasons, with a growing demand for such well-paying positions as that of a qualified facilities manager, as our post “Facility Manager Talent Gap Brings New Initiatives in 2018” explains. Despite the relatively high salary available ($92,000 average per annum), the talent pool keeps getting smaller because of typical attrition without corresponding recruitment.

Admittedly, there are unique obstacles to women in this field. In some cases, they must overcome the perception that only men are capable of jobs in HVACR, which often require being in the field doing dangerous and dirty work. Women may also find the mentorship or training programs and networking opportunities necessary to success, difficult to find or secure.

And, as the News article points out, a lot of women simply aren’t aware of the possibilities in the field. One female CEO says: “There’s a lot of stigma about HVAC as a boys’ club. It’s about changing the perception of the industry because if you’re not in it, you don’t see it.”

Good Pay, Lots of Opportunities for Women

The thinning market and the fact that women are underrepresented may present a good opportunity for women to think about entering the HVACR industry. “There is a high demand for more women in the trades and we are often approached by companies looking to hiring more women,” states Danielle Putnam, president of the industry focused Women in HVACR association.

The organization promotes networking as a prime way to further HVAC careers. Putnam herself is a long-term HVACR pro: she is president of the Dalton, Georgia based The New Flate Rate, which provides online home service menus sales system for HVACR and other contractors.

Gaining Momentum

As Putnam notes, her organization is picking up momentum, judging by the 15th annual Women in HVACR conference in Denver, held last month. “Last year we were just past the 100-attendee mark and, in previous years we were around the 60-attendee mark. The doubled attendance is due in part by the organization’s bold move to branch out and host our own conference.” With 138 attendees, it was the biggest turnout for this conference so far. The theme was, appropriately, Defying Gravity, with speakers presenting on a variety of topics. The keynote was “Innovation is Everybody’s Business”; another speaker recounted her own professional journey: “From the Jungles of Burma to HVACR: Lessons Learned.”

Networking Important to Boost Careers

According to one attendee, the value isn’t just the show itself, but also the networking opportunities. As the attendee says in a blog: “Several women that I met have already connected on my personal social media, through the mentorship program, via email or through WHVACR social media, to keep the conversation going so that we can all stay connected until the next event.”

Putnam is upbeat about next year, too: “We are very confident the attendance will continue to climb as our sponsors, partners and friends are beginning to jump fully on board helping to promote the organization and support our efforts.”

With such events, and the availability of training and career coaching and networking opportunities, employers may start seeing an ever-faster growing pool of available numbers of women in HVAC. And that’s truly a win-win.

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