Representation of Women in the Parking Industry is Crucial
It’s not news that women in the parking industry are a minority, especially at the executive level. Leadership teams of parking industry companies, including parking operators, parking suppliers and parking technology providers, have almost zero representation of women in c-suite positions and minuscule representation in executive-level positions. Even front line and mid-level corporate positions are disproportionately male dominated.
It’s also not news that having a diverse, balanced workforce benefits the company. Study after study finds that companies that have better representation of female leaders generally have better performance, even if it just means having one female executive or board member.
However, the benefits of a diverse workforce that includes the presence of women at all levels doesn’t stop at the company level. The parking industry as a whole would benefit from greater input to solving real world parking problems.
It’s not just the soft skills that women bring to the table
Lack of women in an industry can result in oversight of important challenges and problems. We can see how other industries have been hurt by having a limited portion of the population represented in its workforce. When airbags were first introduced into cars, they disproportionately killed women and children as they were designed mainly by men to protect men. It wasn’t until 2003 that the first female test dummies were included in the evaluation of crash safety for vehicles in compliance testing.
Safety is also an obvious consideration in parking that could use a bit of female input. Not to stereotype, but women often have their hands tied up, carrying shopping bags and small children as they walk to and from their car and destination. This can create less safe situations for women who are unable to protect themselves. Women may also place a greater emphasis on the importance of safe walking areas for those with small children.
Keys to attracting and retaining women in parking
In recent years, many companies have visibly begun to recognize the importance of attracting more women into their businesses, especially to leadership positions. Despite the continuing underrepresentation of women in these positions, companies are taking steps to change this. The Women in Parking association currently has 20 sponsors with over 500 members that are represented by both sexes and professionals at all levels. Each year the attendance to WIP events noticeably grows as do the membership benefits. From mentoring initiatives to informative webinars to networking opportunities, WIP has been able to elevate women’s profile in the industry.
Individual companies have also taken strides to emphasizing greater representation of women within their workforces. The two largest parking operators in the U.S., SP+ and LAZ Parking, both have initiatives to promote greater female participation, especially in leadership positions.
Gender diversity initiatives do not have to be limited to the largest organizations.
Companies of all sizes and types can implement practical solutions to overcome challenges in attracting female professionals.
Develop an inclusive culture.
Make gender diversity a top priority and invest not only in recruiting but also in training within your company to overcome stereotypes which can create barriers to entry and advancement for women. Implement a women’s association (that is inclusive to all genders) within your company and offer ‘return-to-work’ programs to bring women back into your workforce. Such initiatives will go a long way to demonstrate how inclusion is valued within your company.
Offer benefit packages that appeal to your targeted talent pool.
Consider how you can enable the work-life balance a working mother would prefer as well as the benefits and flexibility that can make your company more attractive to women. Whether your benefits include the opportunity to work from home or pick preferred working hours, make policies that are clear instead of ambiguous and educate senior managers on the advantages and importance of offering flexible work arrangements.
Address gender-bias hiring practices.
Attracting women to apply to your company can start by adjusting your hiring tactics. Avoid using masculine language in your job descriptions which may discourage women from applying (you can even find gender language decoders online that analyze your job descriptions for gender biases). Only include the bare necessities in your job descriptions as women are less likely to apply if they don’t have all the qualifications. Also involve women in your hiring process to increase the likelihood that women can see themselves fitting into your company.
The parking industry has already taken the most important steps to creating a gender equal workforce.
Those steps are to identify such a gap and create awareness of the problem. From Parking Today’s annual WIP issue to external and internal women’s associations, parking companies and the parking industry are on the right path to a more diverse and represented workforce.