March is Women’s History Month and March 8th is International Women’s Day. Take this time to recognize the women in our industry, to thank them for their hard work, and to ask how you can help support them and get more women in our industry.
From the National Women’s History Alliance a quick primer on Why March is National Women’s History Month:
As recently as the 1970s, women’s history was virtually an unknown topic in the K-12 curriculum or in general public consciousness. To address this situation, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a “Women’s History Week” celebration for 1978. The week March 8th, International Women’s Day, was chosen as the focal point of the observance. The local Women’s History Week activities met with an enthusiastic response, and dozens of schools planned special programs for Women’s History Week. International Women's Day 2020 campaign theme is #EachforEqual.
From the Women’s Day web site:
An equal world is an enabled world. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.
We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender-equal world. Let's all be #EachforEqual.
Sudha Jamthe, CEO IoTDisruptions and AutomatedBuildings.com Contributing Editor in this article, "The Amazing Women of Tech and Their Effort at #EachforEqual" elaborates on the meaning of the hashtag:
First I would like to thank the most amazing women Jane Sinclair our chief managing editor for over 21 years of our online magazine AutomatedBuildings.com. The only person in the world that actually reads every issue, "word for word" and makes our free industry resource available to the world. "Thank you, Jane." Next, I wish to thank Monica McMahen, past Director of Marketing Optigo Networks who helped conceive our March issue.
Women in Data Science (WiDS) runs at Stanford in March and has 50+ satellite events globally
Women in AI Ethics is a movement to bring ethics at the center of AI.
Jamethe in her article also lists several ways in which men can support their female colleagues. She also quotes Monica McMahen writing on the Optigo web site:
March 8th is International Women's Day. At Optigo, we try to celebrate this every year with a blog post of some kind. This past year we were very happy to feature 5 amazing women in the industry, and we received a lot of positive feedback. From what I can see, the BAS industry is just starting to talk about the lack of women and the need for new, fresh talent. This year, we thought it would be great if we could showcase some of the incredible women in the industry by "taking over" Automated Buildings - i.e. having the vast majority of articles be by women. They can be about any BAS topic, they do not have to be related to the topic of having women in the industry. Get technical and show off the incredible women we all work with every day!
McMahen and Natalie Serafini, Marketing Strategist at Optigo talk about how a more diverse industry will lead to better buildings int this article, Building a More Diverse Industry, Monica and Natalie write about how a more diverse industry will make for better buildings:
Diversity helps us form better teams and make better decisions. Your team might be incredibly high-performing, but if everyone has the same perspectives you’ll end up with an echo chamber. More importantly, if everyone designing, building, and managing our buildings has similar experiences and perspectives, will they know what obstacles other folks face in the built environment?
Casey Talon, Research Director for Navigant Research discusses the leadership gap in this article, Hire Women to Help Lead the Smart Buildings Industry:
Women represent just 1.4% of HVAC, 5.2% of computer control programmers and operators, 5.3% or architectural and engineering managers, 6.4% of mechanical engineers, and 7.4% of construction managers.
At the beginning of February, I attended AHRExpo in Orlando, “the world’s largest HVAC marketplace.” The previously mentioned challenges were painfully obvious. There is an exceptional lack of women in leadership. I came to this conclusion, in part, through great discussions during two sessions in which I was a panellist: Building for a Climate Emergency (available here) and Pulling More Women into the Ranks of Smart Buildings Leadership.
While diversity extends beyond female leadership, this narrower topic illustrates the opportunity for transforming industry leadership. Here are three steps today’s leaders can take to set their companies up for market leadership.
Recruit with intention and set explicit goals: Be intentional—this was one of the big take-aways from the discussion at AHR. Leadership must recognize the reality of unconscious bias, take steps to counteract it and be intentional in hiring and promoting female employees.There are many studies outlining the effect of unconscious or implicit bias on recruitment, and complementary programs and guidelines to mitigate it. Executives should institute training and policies around recruitment to set a path to more inclusive hiring practices. Project Implicit, a non-profit collaboration between university researchers, offers testing to identify personal biases. CEOs can also showcase their commitment by participating in initiatives such as CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion.
Mentor new employees: Once in the door, the work is not finished. Retaining female employees is a second critical action item. According to a 2019 study, more than 40% of women with full-time STEM careers leave after their first child. This point simply underscores the issue of establishing and committing to inclusive policies throughout the employment process, including issues associated with maternity leave. Leadership can also foster the professional development of female employees throughout the hierarchy to ensure continuous improvement in representation.
Showcase an enhanced brand: Finally, encouraging women is good for business, but so is promoting diversity. Studies have shown diverse teams are more effective. Diverse companies are more successful in recruitment–according to a recent study, 37% of millennials consider diversity in their employment decision-making. Diversity is also an important metric in a brand fundamentally impacting the bottom line. In fact, it’s becoming a financial imperative. In January, Goldman Sachs announced the company will no longer take companies public without at least one diverse board member—a powerful signal for shifting reality.
Most of us in the industry have just returned from very successful AHRExpo, 2020 Orlando. The 2020 Show welcomed over 50,000 attendees, 1,900+ exhibiting companies. Operating in the shadows of this great event, Kimberly Stevens Pires did an amazing job of educating and displaying our industry. Thank you, we all very much appreciate all the work you do to provide the venue, space, signage and promotion of the response to our Education Emergency efforts. The work you do helped make this event amazing, and it does not go unnoticed! The industry thanks you.
Sinclair: What are your thoughts on how we can get more women into the industry? Brown: An audience member during the women in the leadership panel brought up a fantastic point. That hiring women in the industry needs to start off with the intent to do so. You have to make a conscious decision to alter your recruiting practices and overcoming your own biases in order to level the playing field. Monica McMahen from Optigo did a great job discussing this during the panel and goes into this further in her article Why You Should Hire Women and How to Get Started.
I find these tips helpful and ones that can be put into practice as long as you start with the intent to hire more women (and minorities as well). Cochrane Supply has been very successful in hiring women and moving them into leadership roles. One of the key things we do is to promote from within whenever possible. We utilize entry-level roles as a way to find capable people with the soft skills we find valuable, and teach them about the BAS industry and give them the additional skills they need to continue to advance through the company. Many people currently working here, a lot of them women, have come up through the ranks of the company because of this.
In this article, Mentoring: A Lasting Impact Erin DeFrieze, Manager Professional Services and Application Engineer at Lynxspring, Inc., make the point that mentoring doesn’t stop when you leave the office or job site; in fact, it can last a lifetime:
If we hope to grow as an industry and bring in more young women or even young men, we need to be cognizant of the way we are mentoring them. How we interact and share ideas and knowledge with one another will be what they will take with them into the future as they become the leaders of our businesses. We need to teach the younger generation not only the “how to’s” but the “why’s” and the “respects and expectations” of our industry.
Some of my best mentors where the ones that not only told me that “This is how you do X, but this is why X is done that way.” We, too often tend to ignore the “why” leaving out the most important part of mentoring — the understanding. Anyone can be told what to do and robotically follow orders, but the best and brightest are the ones that understand the why. When you fully grasp what you do, you are then on your way to developing hopefully not just a good knowledge base but possibly a passion for it. The “respect and expectations” are true in all aspects of your daily interactions.
Here is an Update from Australia: A diverse set of solutions for the built environment. by Kerri Lee Sinclair, the Chair SBE Australia:
On International Women's Day, we stop to reflect on the benefits that diversity brings. As in many technical fields, further work is required to attract, hire and retain women in the built environment and related fields in Australia. However, the global success of these two businesses shows that not only can it be done, but it can make a global impact. Organisations like Springboard and its sister organisation in Australia, SBE Australia (of which I am the Chair) actively seek out women entrepreneurs making an impact across all technical fields so ensure they have the human capital required to support them throughout their journey.
This LinkedIn post of our February article "The Dire BAS Labor Shortage" makes it clear that it’s going to take all of us, working together, to solve the problem. (The post now has over 9650 views.)
One of the best ways to address our dire labor shortage while increasing diversity is to utilize our existing workforce of amazing women and further their leadership roles, having them backfill their present positions with even more amazing women.
This shows all the articles and provides pictures of the women that will be our March issue of AutomatedBuildings: