A significant demographic shift in the funeral industry has occurred in recent years. As more female workers enter the funeral profession, the need for a space to provide community and support for success quickly arose, and the Death Care Collective initiative was established. A group of driven female leaders in the industry were determined to provide opportunities to empower one another and promote the employment and advancement of women in the funeral industry. Thus the formation of the member-based group, which is currently in the process of becoming a registered nonprofit organization.
Jamie Dravecky, Homesteaders Senior Account Executive and one of the founding members said, “Covid really changed the way we were communicating and making connections, and we (the founding members) quickly came to the realization that there may be more women who felt like we did. We knew we had the unique opportunity to make an impact, so the nine of us met and formed the Death Care Collective.”
Pictured, Founding Members of the Death Care Collective, L to R: Jessica Lopez, Robyn Sechler, Tayce Vogel, Shannon Bischoff, Sandra Walker, Olga Piehler, Erin Creger and Jamie Dravecky. Not pictured: Honnalora Hubbard
About the Death Care Collective
The Death Care Collective aims to make sure that women in the funeral industry feel seen and heard, with the goal to create a safe space for women to connect, be vulnerable and develop relationships within the profession. The Death Care Collective’s core values include integrity, trust, respect, servant leadership, leading by example, humility, vulnerability, inclusion, confidentiality and accountability. These values have become the foundation for everything they do today.
The group regularly hosts networking events via Zoom for members to receive education and training, as well as the opportunity to discuss industry-related topics. Their members have a vast wealth of knowledge and experience across the industry and are eager to share their experiences with others.
Females in the Funeral Industry
Women may be gravitating toward the funeral profession due to increased access to the required education and the recent change in the types of funerals, end-of-life celebrations and advance funeral plans that future generations are choosing. The shift in simply facilitating a single event for the deceased to providing an overall experience that is more compassionate and unique to each family, may be contributing to the increased interest from females entering the industry. Generally, women tend to have more caring and empathetic personality characteristics and are typically great at multitasking and communicating with others, all skills necessary for a successful funeral director.
Overall employment of funeral service workers is projected to grow 8% from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It comes as no surprise then that successful funeral home businesses will reflect an increase in female funeral directors and embalmers as well. Despite the increased numbers, females in the industry still face their fair share of challenges, including perceived bias in the workplace and lack of diverse job roles within the profession. The shortage of females in leadership positions can make it difficult for women to find mentors and role models in the industry. A mentoring program is the next initiative that the Death Care Collective is working on.
“This is something in the early stages still, but we recognize the need there,” said Dravecky. One of their key initiatives is to create opportunities for women to lead the next generation of women as they grow in their careers within the funeral profession.DEATH CARE COLLECTIVE ADVOCATES FOR FEMALE FUNERAL PROFESSIONALS
Today, members of the Death Care Collective are helping break down gender stereotypes and are becoming advocates for female empowerment and leadership in future generations through mentorship, open dialogue, opportunities for involvement and generating a source of community within the industry. Female mentorship is one of the best ways to equalize and increase leadership in the workplace and is shown to be an effective way to provide feedback and recognition for an employee – helping them boost their confidence and advance in their careers.
The group represents every aspect of the funeral industry. “We have CEOs, sales, preneed agents, funeral directors, marketing – we have members from every single area that involves funeral service,” said Dravecky.
The Death Care Collective hosts a quarterly book club, bi-monthly Zoom webinars and many other events, which are free for members, and there is no cost to join the organization. To get involved with the Death Care Collective, you can contact the group here or find them on social media.
As we celebrate and recognize March as Women’s History Month each year, we are thrilled to highlight the positive work that the Death Care Collective has been doing to pave the way for future female leaders in the funeral industry. Our industry will inevitably continue to evolve as new generations come to age, and women are poised to help shape its future. As more women enter the industry workforce, it is time to recognize the important role that female funeral directors and embalmers have, and the Death Care Collective is there to provide the support and opportunities our future female leaders need to succeed.