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5 Ways to Champion Women in the Cleaning Industry

Start with these best practices that support and elevate women in the workplace

Women in the Cleaning Industry Women in the Cleaning Industry

Women hold over half (52%) of all professional-level jobs in America, yet they only make up 14.6% of executive officers, according to the Center for American Progress. Additionally, Catalyst reports that black and Hispanic women make up an even smaller percentage of managerial roles. To fill the gender gap and create a more diverse, innovative workforce, championing diversity is key.

Companies with gender-diverse leadership teams foster creativity, innovation and are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability, according to McCarthy Mentoring. Businesses greatly benefit with a greater range of talent and a broader world view. With the shift to spring, we celebrate Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day, and Diversity Month, making it a great time to examine your company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts and work on building a more positive and inclusive work culture.

Driving diversity

More and more companies have begun to understand that a diverse work environment fosters continuous learning and innovation, ultimately strengthening its brand identity. From attracting new, qualified individuals and maintaining a happy workforce, implementing DEI efforts benefits everyone. In fact, 96-98% of large companies (above 1,000 employees) have invested in diversity programs. However, around three quarters of underrepresented groups—including women and racial and ethnic minorities—do not feel they’ve directly benefited from these programs, according to a survey published by the Boston Consulting Group in 2019.

The professional cleaning industry is filled with incredibly talented professionals at all levels. However, jansan companies struggle with the issue of turnover, averaging nearly 200% each year, as noted in a 2018 whitepaper by 4M Building Solutions. To retain the best talent and elevate women of all different backgrounds, consider implementing best practices that support women in the workplace, including:

  • Leading by example. It’s important for leadership to show employees they embrace DEI efforts. By using inclusive language, listening to and addressing employee concerns, and hosting events dedicated to improving the work culture, those in leadership positions can help employees feel more welcomed and included.

  • Providing helpful tools. From implementing a formal mentoring program to offering access to professional development opportunities, employers can help their employees grow their career, and in return, grow their business. In fact, McCarthy Mentoring reports that mentored employees are five times more likely to be promoted. Providing these types of tools is crucial in helping build a strong, reliable, and diverse workforce.

  • Promoting within. Women CEOs are twice as likely to have come from outside a company than be chosen internally, according to a Harvard Business Review Also, millennials are the most likely generation to switch careers with 21% having changed jobs within the past year, according to a recent Gallup report. Investing in employees by promoting within can lead to higher retention levels and increased employee morale.

  • Embracing flexible schedules. Women rank flexibility and work-life balance as a top intervention in the workplace. Some companies have started to embrace work-from-home policies, along with flexible time to accommodate women with growing families and other responsibilities.

  • Showing, not telling. Female representation in the C-suite is on the rise, but still has a lot of room for improvement. It’s important for women to see themselves in the positions that they aim to achieve. Consider sharing stories of successful female leaders and always make it a priority to hire more diversely.

Making a difference

Since its founding in 2014, the ISSA Hygieia Network has been on a mission to provide the programs, tools, and support that enable all women in the cleaning industry to accelerate their careers and achieve their full potential. Run by a talented group of industry leaders, the organization aims to make the commercial cleaning industry one which women actively choose careers in for its unparalleled inclusiveness and access to development and advancement opportunities.

With a free and user-friendly mentoring program developed for industry members, and a commitment to providing regular networking and professional development opportunities, the ISSA Hygieia Network has helped start a necessary dialogue around women in the workplace and prioritizing DEI efforts.

The acquisition and retention of women in the workplace should be a top priority for businesses and organizations worldwide. This month, and every month, it’s important to take a close look at how we can all work together to create a world of clean that’s diverse, inclusive, and prosperous for all.

 

Dr. Felicia L. Townsend

Program Director, ISSA Hygieia Network

Dr. Felicia L. Townsend is the program director of the ISSA Hygieia Network and can be reached at feliciat@issacharities.org. To learn more about the ISSA Hygieia Network, visit www.hygieianetwork.org.

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