Best of Both Worlds

Solving a Major Problem & Doing Good

By Judith M. Guido

I’m perplexed by all the talk around the “labor” shortage. It pains me to hear the word “laborer” used, as images of indentured servitude and slavery come to mind. Nobody wants to grow up to be a laborer, so please stop using the word, remember we’re talking about people here. Words matter, they either “wound or wow” so be careful choosing them.

If you’re having difficulty finding good people to work for you, sit down and figure out why. If you’re a great company, why aren’t people flocking to work for you, and why aren’t your employees and stakeholders your greatest recruiters? Remember, prospective employees are “buyers.” They’re either buying your story about your greatness, dismissing it or don’t even have you on their radar screen.
What I hear and see in the market are at odds with one another. I consistently hear, “We can’t find anyone good to work for us,” or “Nobody wants to work.” What I observe is that there is a large—50.8% of the U.S. population—untapped group of talented people who want to work and are looking to share their talents with like-minded people. As great as our industry is, it has fallen short in attracting and leveraging the most powerful economic group on the planet: women. Yes, women. The Economist, a respected and widely read business magazine, published my favorite business headline of all time on April 15, 2006: “Forget China, India and the Internet: Economic growth is driven by women.” That headline holds true today, 15 years later.

In the U.S. 58% of bachelor’s degrees, 60% of master’s degrees and 52% of doctorate degrees are earned by women. In addition to having the power of doubling the industry’s talent, women-led companies financially outperform those led by men, have greater productivity and higher customer retention rates. Employee turnover rates are also lower—possibly because women rank significantly higher as mentors than men.

If you want to attract great talent let it be known that you are company that is committed to being a place where women can flourish, use their voices, be recognized for their contributions and be empowered. Promoting the support and resources you have to help them grow and succeed is critical. Acknowledging women’s unyielding determination and resilience in a predominantly male-dominated industry is important. Women have gained power and momentum by continually proving themselves to be intelligent and effective strategists, operationally savvy and collaborative field managers, effective and compassionate leaders, as well as market-leading business owners.

Women want to have their voices heard and sit at the table in the room where it happens and make it happen. If you’re a company that is an agent for positive change and want to find the future in the present, let women know there’s an open seat waiting for them and a path for growing as a “leadher.” And when women show up…everybody wins! 

Judith M. Guido is the chairwoman and founder of Guido & Associates, a business management consulting firm in the erosion control and green industry. Guido can be reached at 818.800.0135 or judy@guidoassoc.com.