Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Joselyn Kitzman on Gender Bias, Work-Life Balance and More
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it is important to recognize the significant contributions of women in various professional roles. One such role is safety management, where women have made a profound impact as leaders. From developing safety policies to improving organizational processes, women have been at the forefront of driving safety initiatives forward. Despite facing challenges and obstacles, these women have shown remarkable resilience and determination, paving the way for future generations of women safety leaders.
In this article, we will highlight the journey of one such remarkable safety leader, Joselyn Kitzman, who is a Senior Solution Engineer at ComplianceQuest. Her dedication to safety and her contributions to the safety industry remind us of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the safety profession.
What motivated you to get into the safety management industry?
Knowing that, I would be able to use my software background and skills to help employees in all industries have a safe work environment.
What was your dream job as a kid and why?
My dream job as a kid was to be a teacher. I believe knowledge is a fundamental resource that can empower individuals, organizations, and societies to grow, innovate, and thrive.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your EHS career.
I’ve had the pleasure to participate in multiple safety projects with global organizations. It’s been very rewarding being a part of the team that has helped these organizations reduce their risk at work and training their workforces to use software solutions that will help them be more efficient and most importantly be safe in their workplace.
Do you feel you have sacrificed anything for your professional journey?
Absolutely but I don’t regret it. To grow as a professional, you must sacrifice some things during that journey. At the beginning of my career, I was a young, single mom of three wonderful kids, and I had many sleepless nights working and studying to be able to provide them with a good life but that prevented me from spending more time with them.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to women leadership in safety?
I believe there are several significant barriers to women’s leadership in safety. Gender bias is one, women often face stereotypes and biases that assume men are better suited for leadership positions in traditionally male-dominated fields like safety. Work-life balance is another significant barrier. Balancing work and personal responsibilities can also be a challenge for women in leadership positions. Women may face additional expectations and responsibilities at home, which can make it difficult to devote the time and energy needed to succeed in a leadership role.
Who was an inspiring woman leader to you growing up and who inspires you now?
Growing up and till this day music and art have always played a big role in my life. I remember always admiring Rita Moreno. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and she is one of the few performers to have won all four major American entertainment awards (an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, and a Grammy), and has been a trailblazer for Latina representation in Hollywood and the arts.
Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have met so many wonderful successful women with unique strengths and qualities that is difficult to choose just one as a source of inspiration.
Did you feel like you faced any gender discrimination throughout your career in the sector and if so, how did you address it?
At times I did, and I think that was due to the workplace culture. I’ve always worked in male-dominated fields, but I didn’t let that holding me back. I’ve always worked hard to show what I am capable of and over the years that has allowed me to gain the respect of my male coworkers.
Do you think the EHS industry has some catching up to do where women in leadership roles are concerned? What advice would you give to the next generation of women leaders?
Yes, I believe that the EHS industry, like many industries, still has some catching up to do when it comes to women in leadership roles. While progress has certainly been made, there are still significant barriers and biases that can make it difficult for women to reach the highest levels of leadership.
My advice to the next generation of women leaders in EHS (or any industry, really) would be to advocate for yourself and others. You have the power to advocate for yourselves and for other women in your industry. Speak up when you see bias or discrimination, support other women in their career goals, and use your platform to amplify the voices of those who may not have the same opportunities or visibility as you.
How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
I set goals focused on my priorities. When facing challenges or setbacks, I try to focus on the things that are going well and look for opportunities to learn and grow from my experiences. What keeps me motivated? Rewarding myself and celebrating my successes.
What is a key learning about EHS that you want to advocate to the next generation of safety leaders?
The value of taking a proactive, holistic approach to safety. Traditionally, safety has often been viewed as a reactive function, focused on responding to incidents and hazards as they arise. However, a proactive approach to safety involves identifying and addressing potential hazards before they cause harm, as well as integrating safety into all aspects of an organization’s culture and operations. Organizations can not only prevent incidents and injuries, but also improve their overall performance and reputation. I believe that this is an important message to advocate for the next generation of safety leaders, who will be tasked with shaping the future of safety in their organizations and beyond.
Joselyn Kitzman is just one example of the many remarkable women safety leaders who have made significant contributions to the safety industry. Their achievements and dedication have been instrumental in creating safer work environments for people worldwide.
Together, we can continue to build on the achievements of women safety leaders and work towards a safer, healthier, and more sustainable world for all.