Field Service Management (FSM) has undergone significant technological changes over the last 50 years – from clipboards to mobile apps – but in the employment sphere, FSM remains an industry trapped in the past, with only 2% of women employed as field sector workers.
But technological advances mean there are really no rational reasons why women should not be employed in the sector and see FSM as a career choice, a very promising one where they can succeed both in the field and at commanding heights.
The 14th Field Service Management Summit 2023 presented a golden opportunity for FSM leaders to participate in thought-provoking conversations, gain strategic insights, and build valuable networks, particularly for women.
The summit carried a unique theme of supporting and celebrating women in the field services industry, highlighting the transformative power of female leaders such as Next Technik CEO Annaliese Kloe, who are breaking gender barriers and driving change in FSM.
The lack of gender diversity in the FSM industry has meant a lack of diverse perspectives and untapped potential. Women’s empowerment and representation remain crucial for achieving not only gender balance, and promoting inclusive workplace cultures, but in finding super HR resources in a period of nearly full employment. And that’s the challenge for the sector: creating a new culture and driving change that opens up the industry to greater opportunities for women and the sector itself.
Cutting off half of the available workforce and their skills, ambition, and drive is self-defeating. Gender-balanced teams bring creativity and innovative problem-solving, making them better equipped to tackle the challenges of a dynamic industry.
Annaliese Kloe’s journey to becoming the CEO of Next Technik serves as a great example of how to employ and empower women in FSM. Annaliese recognised early on the importance of attracting and building a diverse and inclusive workforce to the success of her FSM technology business. And that meant hiring capable and intelligent women who could quickly develop the technical skills and industry knowledge necessary to be successful in a predominantly male-dominated space.
“My mother, Di Kloe, was one of the first women to take on an executive role in manufacturing in Australia, as co-founder of Headland Machinery. She taught me that it’s never about gender in business, but more about the role and who is best to do it well.”
And that strategy has paid dividends: 47% of Next Technik’s staff and 50% of its leadership team are women. Next Technik’s successes have seen it grow from an Australian operation with under 15 staff to over 70 staff serving customers across the globe. This is something to be celebrated, particularly in the tech world.
“What you’re looking for is the right values match, aptitude, and transferable skills, like digital skills, time management, and interpersonal skills. When it comes to leaders, we evaluate their potential to fill higher roles or develop professionally.”
The FSM Summit 2023, with its spotlight on women in the industry, was an ideal platform to have conversations about how to address gender disparities and promote inclusivity in the industry. The panel discussion: ‘Transforming the Workplace to Get More Women on the Job’ brougth together an impressive list of industry experts: Bonita Carroll (Research Fellow, University of Western Australia), Lisa McKiernan (Program Delivery Manager, Urban Utilities), Amanda Nuttall (Business Improvement Lead, Optus) and Janet Cribbes (Chief Executive Officer, Tradeswomen Australia). This panel explored the challenges faced by women in FSM and strategies for creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce.
The conversation opened up to the audience, inviting attendees who had their say on the most pressing topics:
- Removing bias in the hiring process: should gender neutralisation in recruitment be promoted?
- Hiring and retention: tools to attract women (and men) to front-line roles
- The power of flexibility: rethinking scheduling tools to support women in their careers
- Shared experiences: working in a male-dominated world
This interactive session provided a valuable opportunity for attendees to share their experiences, insights, and best practices, fostering a collaborative environment to drive positive change and support women in the field services industry.
Reflecting on removing bias in the hiring process, Annaliese says: “There is no room for bias in the hiring process if you want to build a successful company. And ensuring that women have a voice at the leadership level is essential. My experiences working in a previously male-dominated industry make it easier for me to relate to other women entering the industry and adapt our culture to support their success.”
“Many women are naturally empathetic, and leaders who practise empathy get more from their teams since they are focused on solutions rather than problems and punishments. It also comes as no surprise that teams rally around leaders who treat them with respect and care. Empathy is a trait people, both men and women, are born with (and recruiters can look for), but it is also a skill people can cultivate (with the help of mentoring and coaching).”
Annaliese emphasises customer-centricity and the power of data-driven decision-making when thinking about best practices for the FSM industry. Annaliese’s passion for creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace culture has led Next Technik to take proactive measures to attract and retain women talent in FSM roles.
“It is important to be proactive about nurturing future leaders,” said Klugo CEO Annaliese Kloe, “a favourite part of my job has always been mentoring and coaching women who exhibited leadership talents. But you do not yet find a lot of women at the intersection of technology, manufacturing, and field services, so it is necessary during the recruiting process to seek out talented women who can bring a level of diversity and a different perspective to the table.”
While the FSM Summit provided a catalyst for generating meaningful conversations, exchanging ideas, and exploring innovations, the effort to foster inclusion and support women in FSM must extend beyond this event. Companies must commit to continuous endeavours to break gender barriers and create an environment where women can thrive and excel.
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