by Emily Langner
In episode 23 of the Build Better podcast, Anastasia welcomed Jane Henry, founder of SeeHerWork. SeeHerWork is a safety consultancy and product manufacturing company that designs, manufactures and sells workwear, safety equipment, and other job-specific products sized to the unique body needs of both women and men.
Henry works with employers to set up Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) programs and, by introducing properly fitting clothing and equipment, she says employers can promote safety in the industry, create more inclusive work environments for women, and address the workforce shortages that exist today.
After starting SeeHerWork, Henry conducted 50 focus groups with women across the U.S. and asked them to share the major challenges they were facing on the job. What she heard over and over was that the typical “pink it and shrink it” equipment and workwear was not cutting it. The term “pink it and shrink it” refers to the gear being made simply by shrinking down the patterns from men’s clothing and equipment, and adding pink accents. The women Henry spoke to had a simple request: workwear and equipment that fit right and that didn’t make women look different from the rest of the operating team.
Henry also learned that, in some instances, women are being passed over for opportunities at work because they don’t have a properly fitting harness or other safety equipment, leaving them left out of promotions or pay raises. This often leads to women not receiving the coaching and mentoring they need or, in some cases, isolating themselves or leaving the industry.
In addition to designing workwear and equipment, Henry also works with companies to put systems in place to prioritize safety and inclusion. She says it’s not just the safety professionals and individuals that need to be on board to implement this important change, but the organization as a whole must be involved, including the supply chain, and the HR and IT departments. She says companies need to have a pragmatic, purposeful approach and structure to deploy the change. “It’s really about implementing programs so that groups can be very purposeful about safe and inclusive environments,” she adds.
Henry is working with employers in product development and design to address the 14 major product category gaps and create higher performing products for entire operating teams of both women and men. She encourages companies to always prioritize safety on the job site. She says, “PPE is not just your last line of defense, it can also be the first opportunity for inclusion.”
The mission of SeeHerWork’s current campaign, 20/20 Year of the Female Industrial Revolution, is to reduce injury, save lives, and attract more women to the industry. To learn more, visit https://seeherwork.com/.