Before I entered the HVAC industry in 2006, I didn’t even realize the industry existed. I was fortunate to land a job at a company that is one of the leading residential HVAC contractors in our area, and I learned quite a bit from my several years there. However, I was always bothered that the industry, as a whole, was male dominated. In this time of women working to get their rights on an equal plain with men, why didn’t I see more women in our field? It seemed disproportionate that there were many women within the company in a customer service or administrative capacity, but none of them served as technicians or managers.
In 2009, I was given the opportunity to move to my current company as the director of human resources and the customer service manager. Since then, it has become my mission to bring more women into our field and create a space for all employees to feel valued and grow. I struck out quite a bit in the early years with attracting women to our jobs, but, over time, I have learned what works to bring them in.
1) Have entry-level positions posted and available year-round — We rarely hire technicians with experience and tend to grow our techs in-house, starting with people who have zero experience or training in the industry. Many women aren’t given the same opportunities that men are given when it comes to learning the skills they might need to enter a trade. By having an employment opportunity that will teach people everything they need to know, we are creating a space for women and men to enter in the trade where they might not have been able to before.
2) Post the right job ad — The title has to be descriptive enough to draw people in. After trying different job ad titles, I have settled on “HVAC Technician — Entry-level, women & men encouraged to apply!” In addition to that, I also post the following paragraph in the ad description:
Special Note for Women: We are fully committed to diversifying the HVAC workforce by supporting and encouraging both men and women within our company. While this is traditionally a male-dominated industry, you will find that we employ technicians of both genders who are excelling in the field. We encourage you to contact us, so we can help you explore your options and determine if this is the right career path for you.
3) Call almost every woman who applies for the job — This is one of my key steps. Even if their resume doesn’t align exactly with what I’m looking for, by talking to them about their experience and what this job entails, I have been able to learn more about them than what is on paper. Women who might not have been contenders prior to this then go into the running for the position. This doesn’t take away from men being able to get the job; it only adds women to the pool of possible candidates.
4) Recruit people when you are out in public — When I see someone outside of work who might be a good fit for our company, I talk to them about our jobs and give them my business card, so we can chat more. Just last weekend, I spoke with the woman at the movie theater who was selling me popcorn. She tried to get me to upgrade my popcorn size and had the smoothest sales pitch I’ve ever heard from someone in her position. Assuming she can be taught some mechanical skills, she would have been perfect for our entry-level maintenance technician position.
5) Volunteer at your local high schools — For several years, I was on the Career Center Advisory Committee for our local school district. In addition, I have staffed a booth for our company at high school career fairs, scored senior presentations, and judged DECA competitions. Next month, I am giving presentations to 120 high schoolers about our industry and company. By being involved in our high schools, I am able to plant seeds to ensure that our future workforce of both men and women know what HVAC is and why it’s a great career to get into.
My life’s mission is to create opportunities for women where there might not have been opportunities before. Through multiple recruiting avenues, I have done that and will continue to do so until it’s commonplace for women to work in equal numbers to men throughout our industry.
Publication date: 5/14/2018