A Chat with JVH
Back in 2011 founder of Parking Today Magazine, John Van Horn, felt women in our industry needed a voice. His wife, Robyn Van Horn, said he should create a women’s group and let it take off. So, in May of 2011 he assembled nine women in a room and then left. And that was the beginning of Women in Parking. But what you may not realize is Parking Today, led by JVH was already in the pro female mode.
Parking Today Media has 14-member staff made up of full and part time employees. Two of them are male and the rest are female. After working here for 13 years, I never looked at our staff as male or female but as a team and a family.
When John posted a blog about “The Women of Parking Today”, it dawned on me that this man who came up with the idea of WIP was already embracing gender diversity and equality in his own company. John has been more than gracious to WIP over the years. We are thankful for his generosity and his vison.
Hire the best person for the job.
I have learned a lot from working for John for 13 years. But after interviewing him, I learned even more about his fairness, his non-biased approach to hiring and his vison on leading a company.
Marcy Sparrow: Did you intentionally set out to employee more females than males?
John Van Horn: No. We hire the best person for the job. Limiting the labor pool by race or gender is not in the best interest of the company or the potential employees. We often look closely at referrals from existing staff. Having someone you trust recommend an employee can take a lot of the guesswork out of hiring.
MS: How is a female majority staff working for PT?
JVH: Frankly I don’t think of our staff by gender. They are talented people who do a difficult job well. That’s it.
MS: How do the two men in the company handle the imbalance of male to female?
JVH: I can’t speak for Eric, but as I mentioned above, I don’t notice it. These are folks who do their jobs and gender doesn’t enter in to it. I find no more personnel issues at PT than at any other company where the percentage is reversed. Women tend to silo a bit more than men and solve their own problems. Sometimes I need to interact with them more than perhaps I would with a male employee, as men tend to gossip more around the water cooler than women.
MS: What advice do you have for other company owners or hiring managers when hiring?
JVH: Hire the best person for the job. If you want more women on your staff, make the positions more “women friendly.” Flexible hours work well for women as they often have other obligations than men do. (Family, etc). Women work well from their homes, men seem to like coming to the office. A company culture that allows working from home some days of the week attracts women. Part time positions are good, too. At least half of our female staff are part timers.
MS: Any thoughts you wish to share on your experience with hiring and employing people for over 20 years?
JVH: Even though I helped found Women in Parking, I don’t really believe in gender-based hiring. The fact that PT has a majority of women employees was the luck of the draw. I understand that we aren’t typical for the industry.
But there are many positions in our industry that fit well into most women’s wheelhouses. It might be tricky for a woman to get hired to pour concrete or bend conduit in installation positions, but if the skills are there, women technicians, engineers, and service personnel (dispatchers, repair and maintenance) can fit into our industry.
And I know many women who run parking operations in universities, cities, and in commercial parking operations. One shouldn’t assume that just because an applicant is a woman, she can’t handle traditionally male positions.
I sat with the CEO of a major PARCS supplier the other day and he said he would like to hire more women. If you want women employees, you must look where they are. There are several women-based headhunters that support our industry.
When I was locked out of my hotel room last week because of a faulty card lock, it was a female engineer who showed up and opened the door. The pilot at the controls of the plane I just flew on is a woman. A woman fighter pilot just became one of the candidates for Senate from Arizona.
Women are creative, precise, and dependable. My experience is that women, in general, are as talented as men, and when they have the skill sets needed for the job, they excel in it.
John Van Horn is the Editor and Publisher of Parking Today Magazine and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marcy Sparrow is the Women in Parking’s Chairperson and Director of Sales at Parking Today Media. She can be reached at email@example.com