Awareness, Advertising, & Stigma: Women of Mission Critical Offer Strategies for Recruitment

LEESBURG, VA – CAPRE’s inaugural Women of Mission Critical Summit tackled the data center industry’s diversity challenges head on, from many angles. The culminating panel of the day, “Seeking Talent and Skills: Best Practices for Recruitment in Today’s Environment,” was perhaps the most focused on shining a light on specific problems in our industry, and also featured some discussion in response a question from an audience member about how to translate big ideas into real results – how to get over the hump and get those applicants in the door and on the job.

One key perspective was that of Heather Dooley, Chief of Staff for Data Center Business Operations at Google. “Honestly, I think that the problem we all have is that this is a hidden industry. No one knows about it,” she asserted. “When people think about working at Google, they think about getting into software development. They think about all of the entire stack, and they start at the top, but when they get maybe to the network, and then they stop.”

“So I think it’s our job, collectively, to figure out how to raise awareness about this part of the industry. It’s so critical, but no one knows about it,” continued Dooley. “That’s what I think our opportunity looks like. We have iMasons of course, and 7×24, and those are fantastic, but they’re focused on all of us. We need to peel that back, and figure out, how do we get more information out there, about the data center component of the internet?”

Next, Nancy Novak, Senior Vice-President of Construction at Compass Datacenters chimed in with a slightly different perspective. “Well I want to say one thing. It’s two-two-fold. Because I’m in construction, and we’ve been around forever. We’re as old as dirt. And we have dismal numbers,” she began, garnering a bit of a chuckle from the room.

“Our struggle is not advertising, like it is with the data center industry, where it’s definitely about getting the word out, since people don’t know what a Cloud is. They don’t understand that it’s a big building, things like that, etc. And our problem is not how to be a welcoming industry for diversity and inclusion, and using technology to disrupt the industry to attract more talent, like with data centers,” she listed, painting an evocative picture. “We just have a stigma. We’re really old, and we have a stigma about that. So our advertisement has to be focused on changing that conversation. Changing that conversation, in order to get more women and more diverse employees into construction.”

Finally, Catherine Bedell, General Counsel at Vapor IO spoke out with another big idea. “Another key part of that is losing the stigma that, if there’s a gap on your resumé, it must mean that you’re now five years behind, or two years behind,” she offered. “Maybe you stayed at home with a baby or maybe you took a tour of Europe. That doesn’t mean that you’re now two or more years behind on whatever skillset you might have. Maybe the standards have changed, and you need to get up to speed on that, but the skills that really going to help you be successful – that ability to to dig in, that confidence, those kinds of things [are still the same].”

“Maybe we can try to collectively try to ask why there’s that gap in that resumé, rather than assume that that person might not be current or up to the job,” urged Bedell, concluding this particular discussion with a passionate call to action.

For more coverage of this panel, check out previous CAPRE Insider Reports:

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