The first time I walked into a senior living community for a job interview, I knew I’d found both a career and a calling. I still get that feeling when I go to work today. And though I recall the early days of my career fondly, I can’t help but acknowledge the lack of opportunity for career growth, professional development, and advancement for women within our industry.
As a community sales manager, I quickly excelled at the basics – calls, tours, rates, follow-ups, problem-solving, incentivizing, and lease signing. However, there was never a chance to “pull back the curtain” and experience first hand how my role impacted the larger objectives of the business.
- Even as a sales leader, I didn’t have access to financials.
- I wasn’t included or invited to participate in strategic planning sessions or in-depth discussions on budgeting, revenue, or overall financial performance.
- At times, I felt confined to middle management and even labeled, first as a female millennial and later, as a working mother.
The Power of Mentorship
Everything changed when another professional woman and working mom spotted my potential, took me under her wing, and helped me make the jump from middle management to executive leadership.
As both a mentor and a partner, she listened to my ideas, sponsored me in large meetings, coached me in private, built up my confidence, and fanned my passion for the industry. She held one of the most powerful positions in a large company but led with authenticity and poise that endeared her to the CEO and front-line associates alike. And when I landed a major promotion with a global company, it was the joy of working with my role model that made what should have been an easy decision so difficult.
“My mentor listened to my ideas, sponsored me in large meetings, coached me in private, built up my confidence, and fanned my passion for the industry.”
Gender Diversity Means Big Pluses for Big Business
The benefits of gender-balanced management teams are now being more widely recognized. This year, Sodexo’s landmark study shows that teams managed by an equitable mix of men and women are more successful across a range of areas.
The findings confirm what some of us have long known: Management teams with gender parity offer a wider range of perspectives, communicate better, manage talent more efficiently, and foster opportunities for mentorship.
“Teams with gender parity offer a wider range of perspectives, communicate better, manage talent more efficiently, and foster opportunities for mentorship.”
According to the five-year, one-of-a-kind study, some of the advantages of gender-balanced management teams include:
- Significantly higher employee engagement – Team members who are committed to organizational goals, invested in corporate values, and motivated to give their best every day.
- Higher employee and client retention– A stable talent pool and customers who keep coming back.
- Fewer workplace accidents – A safer environment for employees and clients.
- Higher operating margins – Who can argue with a stronger bottom line?
These highlights are applicable to the senior living industry – an industry that deals with high turnover and one where employee involvement, client satisfaction, and safety are key. Of course, all of these points are interrelated. Long time employees have the opportunity to build trust and develop strong bonds with residents, leading to higher resident satisfaction.
“Longtime employees have the opportunity to build trust and develop strong bonds with residents, leading to higher resident satisfaction.”
At the end of the day, it’s not about men. It’s not about women. It’s about us working together to provide the best experience, value, and quality of life to senior citizens in their golden years.
Lindsay Casillas is Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Sodexo Seniors. Sodexo is a global Fortune 500 company in services that improve quality of life, such as dining, housekeeping, facilities management, and maintenance. It was recently recognized as a leader in supporting the professional advancement of women, receiving Bloomberg’s 2018 Gender-Equality Index (GEI) earlier this year.