Commercial Integrator Making Waves: Why the AV Industry MUST Close the Leadership Gender Gap

Commercial Integrator Making Waves: Why the AV Industry MUST Close the Leadership Gender Gap

by Gina Sansivero

RECENTLY, WHILE READING a post from LinkedIn News called “The Leadership Gender Gap,” I was saddened to realize that the climate for female leaders in all other industries is just as poor as in our own. In fact, according to the author, “Women hold about 38% of all leadership roles in the U.S. — and there hasn’t been much progress in closing that gap.” Additionally, overall, women hold 46% of jobs in the U.S., but women only make up 25% of C-suite roles (LinkedIn News, March 2023). [Under]-representation has remained steady (neither growing nor falling) in the past seven years.

However, large corporations are making some progress. Earlier this year, Fortune wrote that, for the first time in history, women CEOs run just over 10% of Fortune 500 companies. That might seem quite low — it is! — but it is still a historic step forward.

If we were to survey our own industry, the results might likely be worse, as women make up only about 12% to 15% (estimated) of the industry workforce.

Why We Should Empower Women
I want to focus on why we should continue to support, empower and educate women to grow into, negotiate and demand a presence in the leadership team. There are many ways that businesses benefit from having women in executive positions. Consider the following:

Diverse perspectives: Women bring diverse perspectives to the table, which can lead to more creative and innovative solutions to business challenges. This can help companies stay competitive in an ever-changing market.

Improved decision-making: Research has shown that gender-diverse teams make better decisions than other teams. This is because women tend to be more collaborative and likelier to consider multiple viewpoints before making a decision.

Increased profitability: Companies with a larger percentage of women in executive positions tend to be more profitable than those with fewer women in leadership roles. This is likely due to the fact that women tend to be more focused on long-term goals and building sustainable relationships with stakeholders.

Enhanced reputation: Companies that have a strong commitment to gender diversity and equality are often recognized as more socially responsible and ethical. This can enhance a company’s reputation and attract customers who are interested in doing business with socially responsible organizations.

Improved employee engagement and retention: Companies that promote gender diversity and equality are more likely to attract and retain top talent, including women. This can lead to increased employee engagement and satisfaction, which, in turn, can improve productivity and reduce employee turnover. Let’s put it simply: Having women in executive positions can bring substantial benefits to businesses, and, ultimately, it creates a stronger industry as a whole.

Building Your Diverse Farm Team
Many audiovisual executives express that they “struggle to find and/or recruit qualified women.” My suggestion is as follows: If you think they don’t currently exist, or if you think they aren’t willing to give your company a shot, look internally and make a plan. Change doesn’t happen overnight. View this as an opportunity to build your farm team. Find talent, nurture that talent and help empower those whose skills, passion and priorities align with your company’s own. Next, I will share some tips for building your diverse farm team:

Review current recruitment practices: Identify any barriers that might discourage women from applying. This includes reviewing job descriptions, interview processes and other recruitment materials to ensure they’re gender-neutral and inclusive.

Partner with education institutions: This can include sponsoring scholarships or internships for women in relevant programs, collaborating with universities to create programs that prepare women for the industry and hosting job fairs or career events specifically for women.

Offer flexible work arrangements: Flexible work arrangements, such as remote-work options, can help attract and retain women. There seems to be a preference for remote work among women. In fact, “69.0% of women [applied] for remote jobs as of January 2023, compared to 66.4% of men” (LinkedIn News, March 2023).

Create a supportive and inclusive culture: This is crucial for attracting and retaining female talent. These cultural considerations include promoting gender diversity and equality, providing training on unconscious bias and creating policies that support career-advancement opportunities for women.

WAVIT is committed to providing education opportunities for women in the AV/IT industries, helping women obtain the skill sets that will qualify them to have a seat at the leadership table. We are also prioritizing mentorship and support opportunities because it’s hard to build upward momentum by yourself. We understand that, for our industry to stay relevant, strong and innovative, we have to diversify on all fronts.

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