DAVE BAKER’S TAKE:
Breaking down barriers – or through ceilings – where no one dared to go before. So who are Sarah Thomas and Jen Welter? My guess is that you don’t know, although those of you who understand the challenges of breaking down barriers might. (Millennials have already googled them on their smart phones btw). They are pioneers, willing to take a step into unchartered territory and working for employers, specifically enlightened HR leaders, who thought about the skill it takes to do a job and not gender. There was certainly some trepidation on both of their parts before they took on their new roles, especially in light of the fact that they are the first two females in history to do what they are doing. Similar to Jackie Robinson who broke down the race barrier in major league baseball, these two have entered waters no one else had gone before them. Who are they? They are the first female referee (Sarah) and coach (Jen) in the National Football League. You know, we can learn a lot from sports. Because, unlike industry, sports is about the individual’s ability to perform a certain function not about their gender. True, the sport is heavily dominated by males, specifically because many of the coaches, leadership and governance is led by former players. But in today’s world those walls are crumbling fast, and not because of a legal action that forced it – but because of the enlightened people leadership (what we call human capital) in their respective organizations. We have a few clients who are labor unions, you know, the ones that train the skilled workforce of tomorrow how to build things to code and do it with an exceptional level of quality and dedication that is second to none. They all have apprenticeship programs that teach their new employees how to understand building, wiring, plumbing, assembling, and constructing everything around us. It’s a heavily male dominated world. But most of these organizations have been innovative enough to introduced females into their ranks. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, and certainly not as high profile as Sarah and Jen. But those organizations and their forward thinking leadership are also trying to break down walls that have stood for generations. Introducing females into heavily dominated male roles isn’t easy and those organizations who have done it have had to tackle more than just a few unforeseen challenges, but they faced those head on and are now taking advantage of a workforce that hasn’t been used in certain capacities in more than 70 years (reference Pittsburgh’s own Rosie the Riveter). Without Rosie it would have been impossible for the U.S. to win the last World War and was an absolute necessity in light of the available talent in the workforce. You see in the face of adversity some innovate and thus entrepreneurs have changed the world. Let’s applaud the innovators who look at adversity as just another opportunity for capitalizing on new resources. Human Capital – the power of people realized. Bonus question – can you name the two women who will graduate from Army Ranger School this week?