In October 2019, I was thrilled to join the ISSA Hygieia Network as its first Program Director. Over the past several months, I have had the pleasure of meeting with women from different levels and sectors of the cleaning industry to discuss their career and professional development goals.
During our conversations, these women expressed a desire to enhance their skills through education, connection with other industry professionals and volunteering their time to help the ISSA Hygieia Network accomplish its goal of advancing women in the cleaning industry.
Career Development Matters
Attracting and retaining talent at every level of a company is important for its growth. For this reason, placing an emphasis on the career development opportunities available at a company is critical for the success of a business and its employees.
Current and potential employees will often make the decision to stay with or join a company because of the career development opportunities available. On the other hand, the same individuals may choose to leave a company due to a lack of career development resources and a lack of commitment to supporting advancement from within.
Through an organization like the ISSA Hygieia Network, companies can tap into the resources available through the network in order to provide employees with networking opportunities to support their advancement. Such an organization also allows employees to take ownership of their career development, which empowers them to take charge of their own career paths.
As one of three signature ISSA Charities, the ISSA Hygieia Network has addressed these issues by attending to the unmet needs of women in the industry who are struggling to advance in the corporate world. We offer relevant programs, tools and support that help women accelerate their careers and achieve their full potential.
Making an Impact in the Cleaning Industry
My goal is to build on the work that our founding ISSA Hygieia Network council members initiated in 2014 by continuing to educate and inspire women to move forward in their careers with purpose.
Through our new online community platform, networking and leadership conferences and one-on-one mentoring program, cleaning professionals are able to take control of their careers by connecting with peers from across the country and by using our resources to help them excel in the workplace and beyond.
To reach these goals and make a significant and lasting impact, I plan to introduce or continue to develop the following:
- Flexible programs. Through various training modalities, members will gain access to resources via conferences and seminars, online articles, webinars and podcasts. The utilization of these professional tools allows members to fully engage in what they’re learning, thereby increasing the transfer of information to their careers.
- Online community. Our new online networking platform provides an opportunity for women to access information on best practices and connect with other industry professionals. Online resources will also help our members stay ahead of industry trends, which can position them to make informed decisions as they advance in their careers. Additionally, the networking platform will feature information about our half-day professional development conferences, local meetups and annual awards receptions.
- Mentoring opportunities. As we continue to advance women in the cleaning industry and beyond, we must encourage the development of mentoring relationships. Not all companies or employees have access to mentors, so we’ve launched a free, accessible mentoring program to connect industry veterans with those looking to advance their careers. These valuable relationships help ensure everyone has access to career advancing resources.
- Inclusivity best practices. According to a McKinsey report,1 companies with a diverse and inclusive workforce are 35% more likely to outperform industry norms. Additionally, 21% of businesses are more likely to experience above average profitability with a diverse management team.2 Developing an organizational climate that values diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as the advancement of women in the cleaning industry as a whole, is paramount to the success of a business and its employees.
A Bright Future
There’s still a long way to go as far as closing the gender gap and making the workplace more diverse. However, our efforts are beginning to make an impact. With hundreds of women connecting and helping one another through our unique programs, and through our recognition of the achievements of industry leaders, we’re breaking down barriers and pushing the industry forward.
With hundreds of women connecting and helping one another through our unique programs, and through our recognition of the achievements of industry leaders, we’re breaking down barriers and pushing the industry forward.
I’m excited to continue to spearhead the ISSA Hygieia Network’s incredible efforts in advancing women at all levels of the cleaning industry, and I am looking forward to connecting with more inspiring women and men that share and support the ISSA Hygieia Network’s mission.
Dr. Felicia L. Townsend, Program Director, ISSA Hygieia Network
1 Why diversity matters. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2020, from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-
2 Hunt, V., Prince, S., Dixon-Fyle, S. & Yee, L. (2018, Jan) Delivering through Diversity. McKinsey&Company. Retrieved February 7, 2020, from https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Business%20Functions/Organization/Our%20Insights/Delivering%20through%20diversity/Delivering-through-diversity_full-report.ashx