Recently, a woman made history as the first female manager in professional baseball. Do you think that the New York Yankees named Rachel Balkovec to lead their affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons, because she is a woman or because she is the best person for the job?
When I heard the news, my mind went to the recent Women in Leadership in the US Staffing Industry report. The report, while not surprising, is eye-opening. According to Women in Leadership, women are underrepresented in staffing leadership, especially women of color. The report shows the large gaps in the US staffing industry and presents initiatives and best practices to help firms advance women as leaders and build more diverse, better-performing organizations.
Having women in leadership really does lead to better business outcomes. I know because Genesis10 has seen it in action.
When I first joined Genesis10 in 2008, I was impressed with the overall number of women in leadership roles. Today, our senior leadership representing our back-office/client services is 50% diverse and counts among its ranks many women in leadership roles. As for the people we place, one data point from our talent creation program shows that 54% of our Dev10 associates identify with diversity groups. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
As we see it, when you hire, you hire people who are going to be a representation of your brand, and our brand has always been known for finding the best, most qualified available talent at the time. If you stick to that, your hiring will inherently be diversified. And my job as an executive is to understand who provides consistent results across the organization and who has the ability to be a leader, not a manager.
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We have seen women at every level at Genesis10 demonstrate leadership qualities in their day-to-day activities. These women — in sales, recruiting, marketing, compliance and other functions — lead by encouraging one another and lifting each other up, which, because of the nature of our business, extends to our clients and consultants as well.
For example, Genesis10’s Talent Creation program — led by Dev10 President Angelia Brekke, along with Tara Wyborny, VP of talent development, and Jennifer Turnquist, VP of client development — has launched the tech careers of more than 700 junior software developers since it formed in the Twin Cities in 2018. Under their leadership, the program has expanded to other metro areas as well, including Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, New York City and Washington, D.C.
Not only have Brekke, Wyborny and Turnquist’s leadership skills changed the lives of our Dev10 associates, but the program also helps CIOs at more than 40 companies nationwide solve for the challenge of the nationwide tech talent shortage.
What’s more, as important as addressing the tech talent gap is, Dev10 also increases diversity by recruiting recent college grads and career changers who have demonstrated technical acumen and coding experience and immersing them in three months of intensive technical training. By expanding our talent pool to those outside of computer science (just 18% of computer science graduates are women), Dev10 significantly improves access to diverse talent, including women, for our clients.
By helping to increase diversity in tech talent — and, someday, tech leadership — Brekke, Wyborny and Turnquist truly are making a difference. These women at Genesis10 are excellent examples of why staffing needs more women in leadership: because they deliver.
So what about it? Are we, as an industry, making progress toward encouraging more women to assume leadership roles in our organizations? You would think so, but the numbers tell us otherwise. Larger organizations than ours may have large numbers of female employees, but not on their leadership teams. While I’m sure they are still out there making a difference, are they being kept from leadership? And are you, as a staffing executive, consciously going out as an organizational leader and saying your organization should represent the people you put to work? Are you investing in female leadership?
Staffing should be as multi-cultured as the people we put to work, period. Are we at Genesis10 the best at doing it? No. But I know we are better than average. I challenge you to change that.