Breaking the Glass Ceiling: The Need for Women in Building Materials Leadership

Posted on March 07, 2024

I take great pride in being the father of four wonderful children, three of whom are women. This familial balance mirrors the dynamic here at SnapDragon Associates, where 62% of our team is composed of talented women. My eldest daughter, Cassie Fosher, has risen to the role of President through sheer determination and dedication, and she is a tireless advocate for women in the industry.

This level of representation is not common in the male-dominated field of Building Materials, and we are hoping to see the balance shift as more companies recognize the importance of championing diversity and inclusion. While progress has been made, there remains a significant gap in representation at the top.

Importance of Diversity in Leadership

Why is diversity in leadership important? As Libby Gervasio, Vice President at Weston Wood told us recently, “Female representation matters. It has become “so normal” to see men in certain positions that we need to create the same opportunities and equitable chances for women.” Diverse leadership teams bring together a range of perspectives, experiences, and skills, leading to better decision-making, increased innovation, and improved business performance. In the Building Materials industry, where women are underrepresented, having more women in leadership roles can tap into a wider pool of talent and bring fresh perspectives that drive growth and success.

Challenging Stereotypes and Biases

Historically, the Building Material industry has perpetuated the notion that it is a “man’s world,” discouraging women from pursuing careers in this field. As Beth Drummond-Monts De Oca said recently, “In a “good ole boy” industry, it’s so much harder to take your seat at the table.”  Breaking down these barriers requires shifting mindsets and promoting inclusivity. Companies must actively challenge gender stereotypes and biases within their organizations by creating supportive work environments that encourage women to pursue leadership roles. Mentorship programs, networking opportunities, and tailored leadership development initiatives can also help break down barriers and promote career advancement.

Empowering Future Generations

Increased female representation in Building Materials leadership inspires and empowers future generations. Not to mention, with a generational turnover on the horizon, it just makes sense. “Women make up a good chunk of the labor force, and it behooves us to do what we can to attract them to the industry as so many workers (mostly male) will be retiring in the future,” said Meera Sethi, HR Director at Weston Wood Solutions. The visibility of women excelling in leadership roles not only validates the aspirations of young girls but also cultivates a more inclusive and diverse landscape for future leaders to thrive in.

When young girls see successful women leading in their chosen field, it opens up a world of possibilities and encourages them to pursue careers that may have seemed out of reach. We saw that idea brought to life at IBS last week, when our team visited the She Built Foundation booth. This foundation aims to inspire young girls to see themselves as builders – today and in the future. Similarly, companies must invest in educational programs that promote opportunities for young girls. Mentoring programs connecting aspiring female leaders with established professionals can provide invaluable support and guidance.

Collaboration and Advocacy

Increasing female representation in Building Materials leadership requires collaboration and advocacy across the industry. Companies must work together to challenge the status quo and actively promote gender equality. Partnerships with organizations focusing on women’s empowerment, participation in industry-wide initiatives, and the implementation of diversity and inclusion policies are essential. Industry conferences and events can also serve as platforms for showcasing successful women leaders and providing networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities. Actionable advice that Meera Sethi provided recently was to, “Seek guidance from mentors, attend industry events to expand your knowledge and network, and express your career aspirations openly. Partner with reputable recruitment firms who specialize in the industry to secure roles where you can thrive.”

Increased female representation in Building Materials leadership is not just about equality; it’s about embracing the power of diversity and creating a more vibrant and successful industry. Breaking down barriers, challenging stereotypes, empowering future generations, and fostering collaboration and advocacy will pave the way for a more inclusive and prosperous future. Together, we can shatter the glass ceiling (or truss, in our world) and create a level playing field where women have equal opportunities to thrive and lead in Building Materials.

Be sure to follow SnapDragon on LinkedIn as we roll out new content around Women in the Building Materials industry as we celebrate International Women’s Day. And if you think your career would benefit from working with a recruiting partner that values diversity and gender equality, be sure to get in touch: Info@SnapDragonAssociates.com.