Tag: <span>NWIR</span>

How women are changing the roofing industry

Women currently make up nine percent of the construction industry, which is a small percentage when compared with other industries. Construction has always been a male-dominated field. Even fewer women work in the roofing industry specifically; statistics from 2014 reveal that only 0.5 percent of U.S. roofers are female.

However, an increasing number of women are stepping up to the plate and female workers and leaders are making a difference in the industry.

Filling the Labor Void

The construction industry is facing a labor void for a variety of reasons. Prior to 2006, there was a surplus of workers, but the recession eliminated millions of construction jobs. Though our nation and industry have recovered, the general desire to work in construction seems to have diminished. This combined with the baby boomers’ retirement has created a labor void.

Women are an important part of filling this labor void, especially in roofing. Many women can withstand the physical demands of the job as well as men. Others are making waves in business or leadership positions.

The labor void is a serious issue facing the roofing industry. Maintaining an open mind when it comes to hiring more women will help us gain qualified workers and a fresh perspective.

Relating to Female Clients

Unfortunately, one of the stereotypes surrounding the construction industry (and other male-dominated industries such as auto mechanics) is that female customers can get scammed or overcharged because they have little knowledge of the traditionally male industry.

Having female representation in your company can help set prospective female clients at ease. According to Forbes, women now represent 70 to 80 percent of all consumer purchasing power. In some instances, women respond better to female representation when it comes to a new roof or roof repair. It can add a greater relatability factor and help alleviate the fear of being overcharged.

National Women in Roofing

Since it can be hard to get established in such a traditionally male field, National Women in Roofing (NWIR) was established to help support and advance the careers of female roofing professionals.

The nonprofit organization’s four main goals are:

  • Recruiting
  • Networking
  • Education
  • Mentoring

NWIR knows how much women can continue to benefit the roofing industry. It also recognizes how much intentionality and support is needed in this transition. NWIR welcomes both female roofing professionals and male roofing professionals who support the cause.

Note: This article first appeared on Cotney Construction Law’s blog and can be viewed here.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Five Strategies for Making Construction Companies Better for Women

BuiltWorlds recently facilitated a Future Workforce Forum meeting exploring the challenges faced by women in construction. The forum participants heard presentations about the personal experiences of women in the industry, while also engaging in a lively discussion about ways companies should respond to the hurdles that women face. The group came up with five concrete solutions for companies to make themselves welcoming to women:

  1. Qualify female colleagues

Numerous studies, such as this one from the American Association of University Women, have shown that women are often viewed as less competent than their male counterparts. One small way to address this issue is to highlight your female colleagues qualifications when you introduce them.

For example, Jamie Redmond, the Director of Operations at Redmond Construction, related that when she’s in a business meeting, one of her peers informs everyone, “this is Jamie, she leads our operations; she’s a great resource for you.”

  1. Amplify women’s ideas

Men often take women’s ideas and claim them as their own (see Dr. Arin Reeves’ study, “Mansplaining, Manterrupting & Bropropriating.”) In order to combat this issue, Redmond emphasized the importance of repeating a woman’s idea and crediting her for the idea ideas. It’s as simple as saying, “as Jamie pointed out, we should really pay more attention to this marketing campaign.”

  1. Ladies — make yourself a seat at the table.

According to the Harvard Business Review, the way women’s colleagues treat them is almost entirely due to bias and has no correlation with women’s actions. However, in hostile environments, women often have no recourse but to develop a thick skin and hold their ground.

Cathy Osborne, the VP of HR at Leopardo admitted that when she started at the company, the male leaders had a difficult time listening to her. “We had cultural issues because they were not used to having women in a leadership role,” Osborne said. “They’d say, ‘Cathy you don’t know construction.’ I’d say, ‘It’s not about construction. It’s about human capital…’ I have a seat at the table and I’m a business partner.”

  1. Put women in positions of power

Women in power empower other women. For example, as a smart, driven woman, Osborne recognizes the importance of recruiting and retaining female employees. Since she started at Leopardo, the company has “been seeing more strong project engineers, project managers, on the female side.” Osborne also makes sure that male superintendents support her project engineers. In large part due to Osborne’s work, Leopardo is now 27 percent female, not including the trades.

Lauren Enders, a Project Manager at Vortex Flooring, observed that having women run the show benefits everyone. “We have our first female partner,” she said. “She’s really good at maintaining a positive environment for our team… the women in our office make shit happen.” This, of course, means that women in power also empower the men around them.

  1. Make work-life balance a company priority

Women with children often hesitate to take on leadership roles in the field because of the large time commitment demands associated with supervisory positions. Roseanna Bloxham, a senior geo-environmental engineer at environmental consultancy RSK, observed in this article, “it’s really difficult for working mothers to be on site by 8 am, because most childcare facilities are not open at 6am, when they would need to drop off their children. Therefore, after having children female engineers are still tending to go back into desk roles.”

The industry cannot afford to deprive talented women from field leadership opportunities. If you want to attract young parents of all genders into field leadership, you need to implement family friendly policies. Try developing generous paid maternity and paternity leave policies. Look into flexible working options — in the digital age, a lot of office work can be completed at home. Hire assistants for your supervisors who can take on their administrative tasks. You will attract and retain more skilled employees with these policies.

With a precipitous decline in skilled labor, the construction industry cannot afford to alienate 50 percent of the workforce. By implementing these five strategies, you will make your company more competitive and profitable.

Note: This article first appeared on BuiltWorlds’ website and can be viewed here.