Fierce Females in Package Printing: Cynthia Frost White — Rethinking Work/Life Balance as a Labor Retention Tool
In this edition of Fierce Females in Package Printing, we spotlight Cynthia Frost White, president and CEO of Channeled Resources Group. In this frank discussion, Frost White shares: the struggle of bringing a socially minded first business to profitability; why she believes diversity, equality, and inclusion can solve a fundamental business problem; and what makes her grateful every single night.
It’s been a long, strange trip. I was working for Procter and Gamble — in sales — and I was tired of it. My father, who is Mr. Environmental, Mr. Recycle, saw that I was interviewing all over the place, and he offered me a job — in the wastepaper industry.
Back then, we weren’t really in the printing industry, but I was calling on all the printers trying to get their scrap. Our business evolved with the times: We started getting into seconds, and slowly but surely, we moved into manufacturing products for the printing industry.
We should all be making sure that everybody has the same opportunities to be taken seriously so we all have a chance to succeed and do well in this world —regardless of gender, race, or their beliefs.
It’s hard to find good employees today. If you look at college graduates today, it’s somewhere around 60%, female versus 40% male. So being open to diversity means it’s easier to attract candidates, but to ensure we retain the best employees, we as employers must be flexible.
We need to set up women to succeed by acknowledging their roles at and outside of work. This means having a different mindset regarding work/life balance.
Let me share an example: I have one female employee who puts in very long hours, and I was thinking about how I could support this employee so she can continue to perform professionally. I offered to pay for a cleaning person to come to her house. I know she works hard, and taking that one thing off of her plate would make a difference.
Because so many women shoulder so much responsibility for their families, they're more stressed overall. Having this shared experience helps female leaders bring helps female leaders bring that work/life balance conversation back to the forefront and help put that in the context of doing business well.
I will say that one of the few bright spots from the pandemic is that it helped all business leaders see how they can be more flexible for their employees. We’ve seen that so much more work can be done from home, which gives employees more flexibility to manage their family lives in a much better way. That opened our eyes to thinking more about how we can also support every employee, including our manufacturing team. The nature of the job doesn’t let them work remotely, but can the work get done if we’re more flexible with their work hours? Can we look at how we can give people time off to not only go to their doctor’s appointments but also to be a bigger part of their children’s lives?
When I started with TLMI, three of us women were in the organization. Now, the number of women leaders in TLMI is huge. Women fill chairman and committee leader roles! The members know that the women in TLMI get things done, and I think it’s appreciated.
But I don’t really feel like I’ve had to overcome a lot. [Frost White’s daughter interrupts her to ask, “How about when you were a single mom, raising three kids while getting your MBA?”] That’s part of life, and it was kind of fun. When I did my homework, the kids were doing their homework. We were all learning and growing together.
I have a different answer for that. Let me explain. It took years for this company to grow from one committed to doing right by the environment but losing money because of that goal. I had to stand in front of our employees, time and time again, and ask them to believe in me and believe in us because we’re going get there. It wasn’t easy for them.
So, I’m passionate about our employees who have stuck with us. When I close my eyes at night, I’m grateful for everybody that makes our company successful today. I appreciate them sticking with us, so they have become my passion.