Chairman’s Cut: Women Lead the Way

March includes multiple celebrations focused on the achievements of women. It is Women’s History Month, Women in Construction Week is March 6-12, and International Women’s Day is on March 8. It’s fitting that our cover story focuses on that exact topic within our industry.

Whether they’re installing floors, working the manufacturing line, managing company finances, selling products, or serving as the CEO, women are leading the way in wood flooring. As chairman, I’m proud to introduce this issue of Hardwood Floors that honors some of these women and shares their stories. Starting on page 34, you will read about women who are part of this great industry and find out how their careers began, what they enjoy about working in wood flooring, and how they contribute to improving the trade and their communities.

My area of upstate New York has a long, proud history of women’s empowerment. Susan B. Anthony lived her remarkable life and is buried here. Harriet Tubman spent the latter part of her life here. The National Women’s Hall of Fame is located here. My company even offers
a line of flooring named “The 19th Amendment Collection,” with each color named after a significant contributor to the Women’s Rights Movement.

It’s great that this time of year shines a spotlight on women. However, this focus shouldn’t end when the calendar flips to April. We must continue to encourage and support women in the trades all year long.

The shortage of skilled workers is a growing crisis for the U.S. economy. According to data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), 65 percent of builders surveyed in December 2020 said they faced an issue with the cost/availability of labor. Furthermore, less than three percent of the onsite workforce in housing are women. This urgent need for skilled workers creates additional opportunities for women to enter and advance in these fields. Jobs in the trades provide women with a chance for meaningful work with high wages.

One recent initiative is the release of a new children’s book, The House That She Built, by BuilderBooks, the publishing arm of NAHB. The book aims to help bridge the gap of the skilled labor shortage by educating and exposing children to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) and construction careers and elevating women in the industry. The book is inspired by a team of real women who came together from around the country to build a one-of-a-kind home in Utah: The House That She Built. Read more about it on page 46.

The NWFA created the Women’s Industry Network, a group designed to bring together women from across the supply chain. The network will meet during the NWFA Expo in Tampa. Those who are interested in attending can mark their calendars to attend a breakfast on Thursday, April 14, from 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. Contact libby.johnston@nwfa.org with any questions about the event.

Integrating women into all levels of the supply chain is vital to the success of our industry. We have made significant progress, but need to do much more to invite and promote women into our industry.

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