My mother was the leader of our household when I was growing up. I’m sure my father would agree with that assessment. She made the rules, was the keeper of the budget, divvied up the chores, and ensured that everything ran smoothly for a family of six. Mom’s responsibilities could range greatly from teaching a life lesson all the way to handing out unpopular orders. She would send me and my brother out to weed the garden much like a general sending troops into battle. She would much rather have sent us to go swimming for the afternoon, but this had to be done.
Mom was also a woman of color. She immigrated from the Philippines with my father during a time in America that wasn’t so friendly to immigrants. My mom always, every time, without fail, stood up to people and in situations in which she thought we weren’t being treated fairly. She could have been at the grocery store or paying the tab at a restaurant or standing in line at the movies; if she perceived any slight, she would fight for what was right.
My mother is the reason I know that women are able to handle any vocation in the construction industry. I viewed the world through her eyes, the eyes of a woman, and learned what to do through her actions. I’m pretty sure we live in an era in which most men share my sentiments. But there are still barriers. One is getting more women into leadership roles.
In a recent press release, Volvo CE’s Vice President of Process and IT, Jay Parker, discussed the importance of diversity in the industry. Parker has made it a priority to have as diverse a workforce as possible and has been working toward a more gender-balanced leadership. He said, “When I started this job in August last year, we had no women at the top of the department—now it’s 50% men and 50% women. The first female I hired into this top role didn’t get the job simply because she was female. I selected her because what she brought to the table was curiosity, learning, and empathetic leadership.”
Parker also said, “We have to always ask ‘does your place of work reflect the society you live in?’ We all have people in our families of different genders, why shouldn’t we expect the same in the office? If I go to a grocery store every day, I hear different languages all around me and see roughly a 50% gender split. We are lucky enough to work in a global company in Volvo CE, so we already have an impressive cultural diversity here, but when it comes to the gender divide, we can all do better. And we all have a responsibility to help with that.”
So, let’s keep Jay Parker’s momentum going and continue putting women in top leadership positions. Hopefully, then we can get to the point where we’re asking an actual woman about how to create more diversity at the top levels of management. That woman would probably be a lot like my mom.