Though women comprise just 22% of the utility workforce compared to 47% in other industries, we’re spotlighting the power of each individual spark to ignite change. Follow along with our Women in Power series as we celebrate and empower women leading the way in a wide range of careers where AR/FR clothing plays a role.
Through the years, Tyndale has seen firsthand the changes companies in the energy sector are making to empower and represent women in the workforce. In this episode of Women in Power, Alex Baker, Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) PowerPathway Program Manager and lead of HR initiatives for women in trades, joins Sarah Steel, Tyndale’s Director of Digital Marketing and Events, to discuss the programs PG&E designed to advocate for women in the utility industry. Lean in:
Like Tyndale, PG&E understands that women entering non-traditional roles face unique challenges. That’s why both Tyndale and PG&E have made it a goal to empower women in the industry by providing them with the resources they need to succeed and a platform to share their career stories.
A nationally recognized workforce development pipeline program, PowerPathway partners with community colleges, community-based organizations, and workforce development boards to cultivate career pathways designed to help candidates prepare for jobs in the energy and utility industry. The program has a special emphasis on ethnic diversity and under-served populations, including women and veterans. PG&E invests in candidates, providing training that qualifies and prepares them for jobs in utilities. In fact, many go on to work for PG&E.
Since the program first began 15 years ago, PowerPathway has graduated nearly 1,050 people – 82% of the graduates have been hired by PG&E or within the utility industry. Of the 82%, nearly 50% are veterans, 68% are people of color, and 10% are female – a number that is consistently growing.
Because women make up just 22% of the utility workforce compared to 47% nationwide in other industries, you can imagine that recruiting women for positions in the energy sector can be particularly challenging.
True pioneers in empowering women to work in the utility sector, in 2018 PG&E celebrated 100 years of employing women in trades. To honor this milestone Alex created a storyboard pop-up exhibit to showcase the evolution of women in the workforce. The story begins with Mrs. C.L. Harlow, the first female utility worker at PG&E, who joined the company during World War I when PG&E employed less 5,000 people. Mrs. Harlow was hired as a union worker, and even then, earned the same wage as her male counterparts.
Today, PG&E continues actively hiring women into PG&E union positions, encouraging equal pay for equal work.
It’s no question that utility jobs are in high demand, so we asked Alex how PG&E promotes their open positions to women. Alex shared her thoughts on how important it is that companies make it obvious through their website that they’re looking to hire women into nontraditional roles. “The biggest part is just making your company website welcoming, especially on the career pages. Having pictures of women doing the work – and not just the staged ones, real pictures of women doing work” to show it's not an anomaly, Alex explains. She goes on to share that, PG&E HR partners in Recruiting also do tremendous work through their outreach and engagement efforts when hiring leaders.
PG&E employs more than 25,000 men and women and remains a leader in placing women in utility positions but Alex’s job doesn’t end there. Once women are placed in these roles, Alex continues her work in developing career awareness and improving conditions for women in the field, both areas Tyndale is equally passionate about.
As a new member of PG&E’s FR Committee in 2017, Alex facilitated conversations with operations leaders, opening the floor for members to discuss concerns with PPE options for women. Prior to implementing an arc-rated and flame resistant (AR / FR) clothing program with Tyndale, PG&E employees expressed concerns around the sizing, available options, and variety – specifically for women. Today, the company’s robust AR / FR clothing program includes a variety of women’s options, including maternity pants and bib. Tyndale is proud to have worked with PG&E to provide a better protective clothing program experience and is proud to protect PG&E’s workforce.
Follow along with this interview-style series to hear directly from women fueling careers in the energy sector on why they chose their occupation, what they like about it, their hopes for the future, their vision for the evolution of PPE, how we can help pave the way for other women, and more: