The Women of TSA

How to Positively Impact Female Employee Retention

Female TSA officers have been reported to be leaving the agency at a rate that has never been witnessed before. This allegation is backed up by studies, which were done regarding the attrition rate in the agency in general, and women in particular. The consequence of this is that we now have, in existence, a situation whereby the question of gender balance is totally skewed in favor of men.

This issue is exacerbated even further by the fact that women are now afraid of joining the agency. Is it any wonder that the ratio of female employees comprises only a third of theTSA’s workforce? Absolutely not.

According to the agency’s female officers who were interviewed, this situation is as a result of a confluence of issues. However, the agency’s leadership (or lack of) is the one issue that featured prominently. As a result, it is incumbent upon the TSA’s management to ensure that women are encouraged to join the agency, while those who are already in the system lead a favorable life.

The question then is how does the agency ensure that it attracts female employees and consequently retain them for the long-haul? The answer lies in the agency tackling the root causes of these twin problems.

A study conducted on the female members of the workforce had the majority of them decrying the difficulty to balance home and work life as the principal reason as to why they quit the agency. This strain has ensured that the job has had an adverse impact on the relationship of these women with their families, especially so children. Instead of allowing the situation to deteriorate even further, a lot of those interviewed for this piece chose to quit in the hope of salvaging their family lives. The leadership of the agency can forestall this situation by coming up with modalities that will ensure women spend quality time with their families, even as they deal with the emerging threat of terrorism. I would suggest a flexible working schedule as the starting point for the journey.

A story reported by The Washington Times, March 2014 noted that there is an incessant demand for women to conduct pat-downs that they end up spending a lot of their time at the checkpoint. As a consequence of this desertion, most female employees end up failing to benefit from involvements that would stand them in good stead for promotions. And Rep. Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, seems to concur when she says, ““The result is that female TSOs are not getting the experience at other stations to be considered for promotion,” to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

How then does the agency tackle this? According to those interviewed for this article, the answer lies in the workforce’s capacity to employ many more employees, preferably female. These new employees should be able to reduce the burden on the existing female workforce. A relieved female officer will relish the chance of working for the agency and never once ruminate about quitting.

Moreover, there has been a lot of negative vitriol directed at the agency. This obnoxious behavior is being propagated by members of the media and even bloggers. The agency has therefore been cast in bad light, a phenomenon that has been accentuated by the public perception. The potential female officers have thus been put off by such misrepresentation of facts by the media. To counter this, and thus ensure that more female employees are attracted by the prospect of working for the agency, then a robust PR campaign should be the rule rather than the exception for the agency’s leadership. Much of the damage occasioned by this reckless reporting will be undone if this suggestion is implemented. And who knows, this may be the silver bullet that finally gets women thronging into the agency.

Having said this, the agency has to be acknowledged for its continued effort of addressing these issues. It is worthwhile to note that some of the past transgressions have effectively been dealt with. This is a step in the right direction but the leadership can still do more.

Let us get our women to join the agency. The way this plays out is solely dependent on the measures that the agency puts in place.

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