Does ignoring 51 percent of the population a good business strategy?
As shops complain about their ability to attract good talent and pay higher and higher wages for valued employees, are they blind to the female marketplace?
This article is not intended to be a public reckoning that we need to do a better job in attracting female workers, but it is a clear admonition that it is good business sense to understand that 51 percent of the workforce is not being explored for fresh new technician talent.
Ontario, as of August 2018, shows a total of 5391 technicians and apprentices registered. Only 69 of these are female. That’s around 1.25 percent!
In the Automotive Painter (soon to be called the Automotive Refinishing Technician) trade, however, that percentage jumps to 10 percent.
Many of the female apprentices and pre-apprentices we talk to, tell us their goal is to become a painter at the collision shop where they work.
These ladies tell us that they like the attention to detail, the hues, colours, tints available for their proud use and that unlike many males they are NOT colour blind!
So, how does a good collision shop manager look for and retain a good automotive painter that is female?
In the Greater Toronto Area area, a plan is being presented that will allow for an everyday Saturday “Try the Painting Trade” weekly event that can introduce young people, especially young ladies, to the automotive painting trade.
One college is also considering a pre-apprentice painter course aimed specifically at females.
A number of community colleges are discussing offering the same thing at their colleges for local high schools, starting with a prep course.
More females have graduated from the Toronto-area Tropicana Community Services, Autobody Pre-apprenticeship course in 2018 than any prior.
Key barriers still exist
Research shown by the advancewomenintrades.com staff show the key barriers in recruiting women:
- Hiring or recruiting using internal networks and personal contacts limits a large sector of the job-seeking community
- Concerns and assumptions about meeting physical requirements
- Few female role models
- Non-Standard hiring processes and expectations
- Gender and personal biases
For employers who want to better ensure good hiring, www.CIIA.com trade association and the www.advancewomenintrades.com websites offer some good tools:
Under the Recruit More Women; Tools and Templates section, employers can find: Job ads, with equal opportunity statement; Inclusive job ad checklists; Inclusive job ads templates; Gender-neutral language tips; Standardized interview process techniques; as well as standardized interview questions and evaluations.
Some suggested strategies for recruiting and retaining more women include:
Make job-posting gender-neutral; advertising job openings widely; advertise the company’s commitment to female equality in the workplace; encouraging applicant interaction in the workplace (such as taking them on a shop tour); conducting bind resume assessment to reduce hiring bias (resumes with women’s names were chosen only 66 percent as often as identical resumes with men’s names); having standardized interview screenings, question and devaluations as well as providing amenities such as clean and pinup free bathrooms!