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February 2020
AutomatedBuildings.com

Babel Buster Network Gateways: Big Features. Small Price.
Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Why you should hire women

And how to get started
Monica McMahen,
Director of Marketing,
Optigo Networks

 
Why you should hire women

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

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The building automation industry is made up of a very homogeneous group of people: over 90% of the industry is made up of white men.
 
The statistics vary: 1.4% of heating, air conditioning & refrigeration mechanics and installers are women, while 6.4% of mechanical engineers are women. There isn’t even current data on the presence of racial minorities or LGBTQ+ people in the industry, but I’m willing to guess it’s lower than the above stats. But one thing is for sure: the people automating our buildings do not reflect those living, working, or playing in those buildings, and we aren’t even talking about it.
 
And it’s important to talk about it. We all have past experiences and biases that shape what we do on a daily basis. Until we are willing to engage in real conversations about the lack of diversity in our industry, we won’t understand our own biases. We won’t go the extra mile to hire for diversity. We won’t push conference organizers to put women on their “manels.” And we won’t understand why saying “we just hire the best person for the job” is perpetuating our homogeneous industry.
 
You see, for decades in building automation, the perceived best person for the job has been a man. In order for a woman to be seen as the “best for the job,” she has to be significantly more qualified. We also tend to have an unconscious bias towards people who are similar to us: age, race, gender, education level, economic status, etc. We think people like us will be more successful in whatever role we are hiring. And when the hiring team is made up of white men, these biases make it seem like the “best person for the job” is also a white man. But research shows that diversity of every kind — gender, race, sexual orientation, experience, age, the list goes on — makes for better teams, better performance, and better decision making.
 
Unconscious or implicit bias is hard to overcome. But the first step is to know your biases. Harvard developed some amazing implicit bias tests, and I highly recommend anyone hiring to take some of their tests and learn about your own biases. Once you identify your biases, you may start to recognize small things you do in your life as a result of them. And you may also start to make decisions based on skills and training instead of your gut. Or add people with different biases to your hiring teams.
 
Another thing you can do is keep gender out of the hiring process for as long as possible. Have someone who is not participating in the hiring process delete the names from every resume before looking at them (black out the PDF or print the resumes and cut the names off). Take away the opportunity to consider gender in the first round of applicants.
 
PlantPROCORE We need to start hiring more women in this industry; we’re struggling to find talent, and reducing the candidate pool to half the population is not helping. We need to have women speaking at conferences, authoring articles, training technicians, and mentoring new hires. And we need to talk about why all of this is so important. The more we address the problem head-on, the more comfortable our workplaces will get for women, and the easier it will be to recruit them, to keep them, and to promote them.
 
Technology is changing. Buildings are changing. And so is our workforce. Our hiring practices need to keep up.

March is Women’s History Month

And March 8th is International Women’s Day.

Take this time to recognize the women in our industry who have had to “toughen up” and put up with uncomfortable situations to fit in. Thank them for their hard work, and ask how you can help support them and get more women in the industry. We should be doing this every month, but now is a good time to start.

Automated Buildings will be celebrating the amazing women in this industry by featuring articles with female-identifying authors for the month of March. There will also be a panel on “Pulling More Women into the Ranks of Smart Buildings Leadership” at the upcoming AHR Expo, and we would love to see you there.

How will you celebrate International Women’s Day?

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