Advancing Women in Roofing

By Karen L Edwards 05-24-2022
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Women in roofing are estimated to make up just about .5% of the entire roofing workforce in America. This figure is stark—and it shines a light on the tremendous opportunity within the industry to recruit talented women.

The past few years have introduced new initiatives aimed at encouraging women to join the roofing workforce in administrative, technical, sales, service, and manufacturing roles. Founded in 2016, the National Women in Roofing (NWiR) organization has made recruitment an area of focus, working to showcase prospects for women in the industry.

However, simply talking about the available opportunities in roofing isn't enough. It's up to employers to create a working environment that helps all employees find success in the workplace and achieve career growth.

Supporting Women in Sales

As both a founding and Diamond sponsor of NWiR, GAF takes the success of women in the industry seriously. In 2019, GAF began a conversation with female sales team members about the obstacles they were facing in these positions. This gave life to the first GAF Women in Sales Summit, which brought women together to have honest conversations about their challenges, share ideas to overcome them, and build a network of colleagues.

Networking For Success

The Women in Sales Summit (WinS) proved to be so popular that it has been held every year since 2019, encouraging women to gather and benefit from industry-leading education and personal development. The 2022 summit was focused on deepening networks, and had a keynote presentation from Lisa McLeod, Author of "Selling with Purpose". Crystal Heitmeier attended to enhance her experience as district sales manager for Siplast, a Standard Industries sister company to GAF. Heitmeier noted how invaluable the event was for finding growth and success in her position.

"It gave me the opportunity to network with other women who have different experience levels," shared Heitmeier. "Everyone is talking or sharing ideas or communicating-and with just that alone, I was able to watch myself grow in a few days' time. I was really thankful for that, because hearing their perspectives challenged me, which was remarkable and wonderful."

Alma Garnett, Senior Vice President of Commercial Roofing Sales at GAF, saw tremendous value in the WinS event, saying it was "a total home run for the attendees. I was truly struck by the sense of excitement in the air."


Career Guidance

While she found value in networking and sharing perspectives, Heitmeier also appreciated the chance to engage with company human resources representatives, who shared ways they can help team members achieve success. "They were very transparent and talked about how they can help us succeed in our goals," explained Heitmeier. "They said if I want to be on a path to leadership, [there are certain] steps that I should take to start down that path-but they let us know that no matter what, they are going to support us to find the best place in the company for us."

Heitmeier mentioned feeling equally impressed with the commitment GAF has made to helping employees achieve their career goals.

"I talked about the potential of getting my MBA through the company, and GAF's representatives said that if that's what I want, they would support me. 'We'll find a way, and we'll get you there.' It's very uplifting."

The WinS event, more than just a simple networking opportunity, created a community around professional development. Garnett added that "we all learn best when we open up, speak up, and encourage our peers to do the same."


Work-Life Balance

For women in roofing and other career roles traditionally occupied by men, it can be difficult to strike a healthy work-life balance. This is particularly true for women who act as the main caregiver for children or other loved ones.

However, Heitmeier says that hasn't been an issue for her. The company has been extremely supportive: "My boss trusts me implicitly, and he's always telling me to put my kids first," explained Heitmeier. "He says, 'You are Crystal-the mom, the wife, and the individual-first; you're an employee second.'"

Embracing Values

Company values are the driving force behind everything GAF does, especially when it comes to people. With a mission to be "an inclusive, diverse, and culture-driven company that delivers on our promise to Empower, Evolve, Connect, and Inspire," GAF brings those words to life by supporting the entire workforce.

This culture of inclusion and support can be seen throughout the family of Standard Industries companies. Heitmeier has seen the shift in Siplast-which, like many companies in the roofing industry, has traditionally been male dominated.

"It's become an environment where they are now actively seeking women and other minorities to become part of the team," she said. "They are putting them into roles where they can thrive and even challenge the perspective of others."

GAF also encourages team members to connect and support one another through a range of employee-led communities, including groups such as Asians Leading Together (ALT), Black Employees United in Leading Diversity (BUILD), Caregivers Advancing Balance (CAB), Rainbow Alliance for Diversity (RAD), Supporting All Latinos with Unity and Diversity (SALUD), and Women Inspiring Sustained Equality (WISE).

If you're looking for a company that values diversity and supports employees from all backgrounds and circumstances, consider joining the GAF Team. Visit the Careers Page to discover opportunities throughout the country.

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