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Taking Advantage of Being a Woman-Owned or Woman-Managed HVAC Business

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In a male-dominated industry, there are certain advantages to being woman-owned or having women in upper management positions. It’s a differentiator that can set companies apart. But even companies that are run or co-owned by women aren’t always accustomed to promoting themselves as such.

This post is about the benefits of being outspoken about the place of women in the company and how to go about it.

Little research has been done about the role of women in the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration industry, as well as the customer’s perspective on gender in skilled trades. We know that women have faced bias in the workforce in general, and especially in skilled trades. Bias is one of the reasons that the number of women involved in HVAC is so small.

But we also know that the tide is changing:

There are more women-owned businesses, in general.

In 2019, women-owned businesses increased by 21% while the percentages of new businesses in the U.S. increased by only 9% overall. What this means: customers are becoming more accustomed to working with women entrepreneurs. Women are growing more and more confident about their ability to own and operate a business.

The number of women in the industry is growing, albeit slowly.

In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that women made up 2 percent of the workforce in the HVAC industry, up from just .6% in 2009. Per Housecall Pro’s own proprietary data from tens of thousands of past and current users, about 19% of Housecall Pro’s users in the HVAC industry are women. Housecall Pro leadership expects this number to rise.

From Melina Fairleigh, Housecall Pro’s Senior Vice President of People:

“Women have always been out doing the work and silently making a difference for a long time. They are instrumental in every facet of trade businesses around the globe. And if it is not a woman working out in the field, you will often find a woman running the operations back at the office.”

This is one of the reasons why Housecall Pro has also made it a mission to encourage and support women in the service industries, including HVAC.

What follows are some of the advantages to being woman-owned or woman-managed, and how to be public and proud about it.

Promoting Female Leadership or Owners Can Help Your Brand

Use Public Female Face to Show the Company’s Values of Equity and Inclusion

Visit the homepage of Atlas Electrical, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Plumbing Services Incorporated and you’ll find a video of Sarah Jean Sagredo-Hammond, president of the company, explaining the business. You’ll find more videos of Sagredo-Hammond on the company’s Facebook page, providing tips to customers and reasons to choose Atlas.

An outspoken advocate, Sagredo-Hammond uses her personal brand and position as a board member for Women in HVACR to encourage and nurture other women in the industry and beyond.

Having a woman be one of the public faces of the company can help demonstrate the company’s values.

“As the rising generation looks for more equality and balance in the workplace, [female leadership] will demonstrate to them fairness, acceptance, and respect for all human beings,” explained Erica Leonor, a coach for Power Selling Pros.

Single women are more likely to buy or own a home than single men. In 2019, 18% of new home buyers were single women compared to just 9% of homes purchased by single men. Another study found that single women owned more than 1.5 million more homes than single men in the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S.

Women in leadership positions or women in the field may appeal to these independent female homeowners. They’re also likely, as Leonor explained, to appeal to individuals who simply value equality.

Encourage Female Leadership to Add Perspective to Team-Building and Customer Service

Another reason to nurture female leaders in the company is the added perspective they can bring. Sagredo-Hammond explained that having a woman owner or CEO can catch people off guard, but it can also bring out another side of customers and employees alike:

“I truly feel that being that I am a woman, I can bring and shed light on discussions with technicians that perhaps they would not share with a man, regarding difficulties or customer issues, or how to handle situations, because they feel less threatened in speaking with me. Further, when dealing with men, they have a tendency to have respect when speaking to a woman, that perhaps they would raise their voice or be more ill with another man. Being a woman can shed light on a lighter kindness to the business, and a certain grace.”

This grace helps the business earn favor in the community. Atlas consistently wins their local newspaper’s Readers’ Choice awards for favorite electric or heating and air conditioning company.

Companies that Promote Inclusivity Fare Better Overall

Things like equal leadership opportunities regardless of gender are going to help the overall culture of a business.

The #KeepCraftAlive project from Fine Homebuilding Magazine pointed to a Gallup Workplace Study that showed companies with inclusive cultures had better customer satisfaction ratings, were more productive and profitable, and had less employee turnover.

If this hasn’t been a priority in your company, there might be initial pushback or even some weeding out to do first. But the overall effect is a less toxic environment for employees and an equitable values-based mindset that you can feel proud to show customers.

Take Advantage of Women-Centered Communities

If you’re a woman that owns or manages an HVAC company, chances are you’re in an environment with mostly men. Sometimes it’s helpful to have the perspective or support of other women.

Women in HVACR have mentorship opportunities to nurture younger women in the industry and offer experienced women a chance to give back. Similarly, Housecall Pro maintains a Lady Pro online community to provide women a chance to support each other.

Sagredo-Hammond’s advice to other women in the industry is to lead with pride and compassion: “As women, educate yourself in your field, trust your judgment, and be kind. When we lead with these strengths of being female, the industry becomes your own.”

Matt Bonfiglio
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Posted In: Management, Opinion

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