The race is on for a gender equal workforce throughout engineering and infrastructure. In the US, only 13% of engineers in the workforce are women. How can we address the imbalance? Hanna Ito, Principal Consultant at LVI Associates, US, discusses the unique position that recruiters play in furthering gender equality.
The 2020 International Women’s Day theme is that an equal world is an enabled world. What does that mean to you in renewable energy environment?
It means to me that diversity in the workforce is essential in this industry, especially as the energy and infrastructure landscape continues to rapidly evolve/change... It's not just important now, but imperative for the future!
What sort of conversations around gender equality do you have with clients and candidates in your sector?
It does not often come up with with candidates, but is brought up frequently with hiring managers and companies in terms of what they're looking for. More companies mention that female engineers would be high on their radar regardless of if they're a good fit for a specific role, but just to know they're passively or actively looking.
What role can recruiters play in creating an equal world?
Educating our clients on ways to diversify their current workforce. This includes keeping them informed on effective hiring strategies in recruiting female or diverse talent, which not only includes the candidates they try to attract and retain but also keeping their existing work culture up to speed. We can also share with them any seminars, webinars, training, or events to celebrate diverse employees or hiring advice.
We can consult our clients on being more open-minded in hiring diverse candidates when submitting them over. A candidate may not be the right fit for the role technically speaking, but could be a great candidate to speak with to put on your company's radar for hiring in the future.
We can educate them on why they need to hire diverse talent. For example, in a candidate driven market candidates are going to be more interested in firms that offer diversity so we can partner with them on ways they can better market the diversity of their current organization.
What advice would you give to a company trying to create a diverse hiring strategy?
My best strategy for them is to target the audiences they are trying to reach and develop strategic campaigns with either an agency or their internal team. Included are some suggestions I would have:
Something simple such as leaders or executive higher ups in the company sharing articles on LinkedIn about importance of diversity in the workforce. It's a ripple affect if it's shared from the top-down because it shows the public the principles that the company's leaders and owners are built on.
Strategic social media marketing campaign - even something such as interviewing a female engineer on the importance of diversifying the workforce and her experience as a female engineer and share it on the company's LinkedIn. Highlighting female leadership within a company creates role models for other female engineers to aspire to.
Leaders can attend or hold conferences or webinars for industry professionals and employees. They can join that talks about the importance of how to diversify the workforce and current obstacles faced, and share these insights with their organization or wider network. Some companies can even hold International Woman Engineer days in the company to celebrate their female talent and have productive discussions around how to improve diversity internally and within the industry.
Attending career fairs as well on campuses or engineering schools where there are the most female engineers enrolled. Sending female speakers to accredited engineering schools to speak to other aspiring female engineers can be a great way to build the future talent pipeline.
Hanna Ito is a Principal Consultant at LVI Associates . She partners with utilities, engineering firms, and renewable energy firms to attract and retain senior level power engineering talent on their behalf nationwide. She specializes in the placement of substation and protection & control engineers. For advice on building a diverse hiring strategy, get in touch with the LVI Associates team.
LVI Associates is the leading specialist recruitment agency for the energy and infrastructure sectors. We were founded to give candidates and clients peace of mind that the recruitment process is in expert hands. Today, we provide contingency, retained search and project-based contract recruitment from our global hubs internationally.