As the father of five children, including two daughters, I have always paid close attention to the imbalance between the number of men and women in leadership roles. Despite a significant amount of attention that this issue receives, the fact is that things haven’t changed much since I founded St. Louis Staffing twenty years ago. According to the recent World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, progress toward gender economic equality has slowed. In fact, the U.S. has now dropped in rank to 45th place, from 26th place ten years ago.
Those of us who work in the staffing industry know that branch offices appear to have a majority of female employees. But this does not translate to high numbers of women in leadership positions. According to Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), “women comprise only 6% of board seats at the 27 public staffing firms in the US.”
Though such statistics can be discouraging, there are ways to focus on the positive and on taking specific, concrete steps to remedy the disparity. For instance, SIA now publishes Global Power 100 — Women in Staffing List to highlight and honor the women who are making an impact on the staffing industry. In my own career, I’ve admired many female staffing industry leaders, including two locally: Bonny Filandrinos, President/Founder of Staffing Solutions Inc., and Lisa Nichols, CEO of Technology Partners.
I encountered an opportunity to shift the balance in my own company when I brought on a new Director of Marketing, Susan Martin. Two years ago, Susan joined St. Louis Staffing and quickly displayed great management skills in addition to her well-established marketing expertise. After only a year, I approached her about taking on the much bigger role of Director of Branch Operations. It was a risk for her, as she didn’t have direct experience in such a position. But I paired her with a consultant, Amy Bingham, now President of Instaff, who mentored her and provided training to get Susan up to speed in a matter of months.
It proved to be a great decision, and one that has shown me the importance on pushing back against the inertia we all sometimes feel in accepting the status quo. In a new SI Review article on Empowering Women, Claudette Cunitz, VP of Western US Sales for Monster’s unit that works with staffing firms suggests, “Staffing firms should create and foster an environment with the intention of helping to grow and mentor females into those new roles.” That’s exactly what I did, to the benefit of my company, and hopefully, one day, my daughters.