Editor's note: The following is the transcript of The Heidi and Vickie Show. You can read the transcript below or listen to the podcast here.
Heidi Ellsworth: Hello and welcome to the Heidi and Vickie Show. This is Heidi.
Vickie Sharples: And this is Vickie.
Heidi Ellsworth: And we are here to share some thoughts and some laughter and just kind of recap on whatever topic we feel like. So, Vickie, what do you have today?
Vickie Sharples: Well, I've been thinking a lot about stuff in the last couple of weeks. About how we can do things differently and, anyway, I think about it as a business. How can we do things to be a little more inclusive and stuff? I know that you talk a lot about diversity. I was thinking about... You know, and, basically, because the Black Lives Matter comes up and then you realize all the stuff that you don't know or the things that we accidentally do wrong. And then it made me think about how to understand National Women in Roofing better and I decide... You're the smartest person about all this, and I know it's a big passion of yours, said, I would ask you some questions so that I could understand better that... What the problem may be and what we could do to fix it or how to think differently. You know, it's a confusing time because nobody... I think the majority of people don't want to be non-inclusive or whatever. We don't set out to be mean and it's just something that sometimes we're born with and sometimes it's a lack of understanding. You know, I'll tell you a funny story that happened to me, before I... I haven't even let you answer. So, anyway, Heidi, I'm going to ask you a bunch of questions.
Heidi Ellsworth: Okay. That sounds good.
Vickie Sharples: So, this man came to my house and he's going to... I don't know if I told you this story already. I know I told you, but I don't know if I told it on a podcast. So, this guy comes to our house the other day and he's going to sell us a garage door. Very nice man, but I'm working in my office and I'm kind of busy. So, Mickey goes through the whole... My husband, Mick, goes through the whole measuring the garage door thing with him, but, of course, we're going to pick it out together. We got to pick a color and whatever. So, when it's time... So I don't have to follow them around or be... You know, Mickey gets me out of my offices, says, "Okay. Come into the dining room." We're sitting at the table. And he's got his little flip card thing and he's showing me the colors and I kind of pick out what I want. And then he turns around and he goes, "Okay. Now it's time for man talk." He says to me. And I just thought it was so funny. And so then he switches over to Mick and starts talking about the industrial stuff. Whatever. But he said to me... He actually said to me, "Now it's time for man talk." Like he's excusing me. And he wasn't a mean man and he wasn't rude, but he was older. And I think about that and I just covered... I almost started laughing out loud. I just covered my mouth and I didn't get mad. And I think, when I told you the story, you go, "Did you tell him what for?" And I go, "No." Because it was like such an innocent statement. And even though I think about that and the fact that sometimes we don't know any better. And I suppose I could have set him straight, but then I would have sounded like a big harpy, you know what I mean? Like, "You know, I'm the one that makes... I'm smart." You know? But, whatever. So I didn't. So, I was thinking about National Women in Roofing, and you started it and people would... At the beginning... And actually Heidi, I don't even know the story of how you started it and I don't know when you started it. Were we together? Were we together with that?
Heidi Ellsworth: It actually... I started working on it while I was still at EagleView.
Vickie Sharples: Okay.
Heidi Ellsworth: And then when I joined Roofer's Coffee Shop, exciting time, it was about the exact same time that... It was probably that next year that we took it national. We took National Women national, because we had kind of started out doing some test drives on regional basis. And so... Yeah. It was all about the same time. Yeah. So, we were doing both.
Vickie Sharples: So I knew you were working on this, but since I... Which is just... This reflects very poorly on me, to be honest with you about all of this, because... Well, I was busy, but anything that has to do with an organization, I want to support organizations 100% but I don't want to participate in them at all. I don't... You know? I'll help you with your membership drive, I will promote it all I can for you because I believe in it, but as far as me actually going? Oh, no. And so, you know, anything that has got the word organized in it. You know?
Heidi Ellsworth: And you are very across the board with that.
Vickie Sharples: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:05:14]
Heidi Ellsworth: It doesn't matter.
Vickie Sharples: Yeah. There's no place I want to go. You know, I'm the one that goes to church and sits in the very back because I don't want anybody to talk to me. So, yes. That reflects poorly on me, but you have built... Okay. You and a group of wonderful women, have built this organization. Now tell me, at this point right now, this is June of 2002, how many members do you have?
Heidi Ellsworth: So, actually we're right on around 1500 members across the United States. Men and women across the United States. And-
Vickie Sharples: I know you didn't do it alone, but you are half of the visionary and the driving force to get it off the ground so you get tons of credit. But can you imagine that you visualized this and then made it grow? And you made it grow because there was an obvious need.
Heidi Ellsworth: Right.
Vickie Sharples: And the need was what... You know, so I have a guy come up to me and go... Right back in the beginning, he'd go, "So, what's National Women in Roofing about?" And then I would say... I know everybody's cringing when they hear this, I'd go, "I don't know. You'd have to ask Heidi." Because I would come to you and say that, "Why can't we just have a big organization that everybody goes in?" And you would say, "There's certain things-"... You know? So, explain to me what you would explain to me when I'd say that to you.
Heidi Ellsworth: Okay.
Vickie Sharples: I'd go, "Why can't we all just belong to one big organization?" Which the reason why I'm talking about this now... I'm going to take a step back, is because when all Black Lives Matter, I'm the one that said, "But all of us matter." You know? So, I'm thinking that way, which wasn't wrong, but now that somebody explained to me why Black Lives Matter, why that is an issue and I finally get it now, I thought it was a nice time for me and you to talk about because it equates the same thing to me. Why can't we just have one big organization? Well, somebody... So, you tell me why. And then I'll tell you about my other little Black Lives Matter thing.
Heidi Ellsworth: Well, you know... And I think the thing that's so important is that we have... And I'm just going to speak for women. Because I think when you're talking about it, you can talk about what you've experienced and I think that's one of the biggest problems we have is until you walk in someone else's shoes, you don't understand what they have to go through, right? Across the board.
Vickie Sharples: Right.
Heidi Ellsworth: And so there were a lot of people who would say, "Well, we already have these organizations." And I would say, "Okay, great. Let's look at those organizations. Are there any women in leadership? Are there any women? And if there are, how many? Maybe one? Maybe?" And, "What are their focuses? What are they focused on?" Are they focused on the bigger picture of career and networking? And there's just so many subliminal ways that women have been locked out of business in the last... Forever. Forever. Whether that's, you know, on the golf course... Now, I'm not saying women can't play golf. A lot of women are amazing golfers, not one of the things I'm wild about, but... Or if it's in a private club or if it's in other things, and what you find is, yeah, you have this great network, but women are almost put against each other. Like you can only have one woman in leadership. Or you have that token woman on the board, right? And I think it's the way with minorities too. "Oh, yeah. We have one minority on the board, so we're diverse." No. That's not how it works. What works is bringing in... Growing the culture of diversity and having all types, all ages, all nationalities, gender. You know, really looking at that big picture. And so to bring women, strong women... All women together, out of the roofing industry, what has happened and what we visualized was this opportunity to grow a network that embraced women and their careers and being a part of the industry and helping each other and putting a hand out to... It wasn't about this competition of, "There can only be one."
Vickie Sharples: Right.
Heidi Ellsworth: It is about, "The more the merrier." And the thing that's really cool about that is... You know, Vickie. You know, how the trade shows are, and we've been doing them since '94... Was one of my first trade show, IRE, and we would end up... I'd ended up hanging out with a bunch of my lady friends and we'd have a glass of wine and, to be honest, we talked about it. I've talked about this for a decade plus, where we need to get together and talk about the issues that are really affecting us. And we need to talk about how can we go beyond some of those challenges? What can we do to help other women go beyond those challenges? And it just... The time was right. And people were ready, when we finally did it in 2014. We brought Jennifer Ford Smith, who's with Johns Manville, who is just a rock star at Johns Manville. Shari Carlozzi, who is with Tremco now and is in charge of their safety program. Jennifer Stone, who is also with Johns Manville, and the current co-chair of National Women in Roofing. Ellen Thorpe, who was our executive director. I mean, and there was a lot more. I don't want to keep going, because I'll just leave people out and then I'll feel bad. But that's what everybody saw that we needed... And there were times that I would sit back and think, "Oh. I don't want to rock the boat too much." And then Jennifer Stone would say, "Oh, yeah. We do. Let's rock it a little bit more." Or, you know, Shari or Jenny would say the same thing, so it takes a group, a team, of people really working. And now it's... You know, just... It's everywhere and it's awesome. And people are inspired by it every day.
Vickie Sharples: Well, I would think... My initial thought was that this is necessary. I mean, I wanted to attract more women into the roofing industry as laborers so we'd get more labor, you know?
Heidi Ellsworth: Right.
Vickie Sharples: And so... But, if we look back at our history, you and I? I know... I used to tell people that you are my friend, way back when, because I would call you for advice because there was no other girls I could talk to. So, see? I mentally needed you and needed this way back then.
Heidi Ellsworth: Right. You felt it.
Vickie Sharples: But I never realized it in a... You know, I just figured we had to just fit in because I didn't want to... You know, I guess I didn't want to rock the boat, but I felt... Me, personally, but that's just me, you've reminded me, that I haven't ever felt because if anybody did what... Like that meant to me the other day, you know? That I could really hold my own.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah.
Vickie Sharples: That I remember sitting, as the only girl and as a young lady... Well, I mean, I was newly married. I was only married a few years. And I went to a meeting with a bunch of older men that were all business owners, right? And I thought, "What am I? I'm just a little kid, what am I doing in this room with all these old guys?" And then they started bickering and sounding stupid, and next thing you know, this was me, I went, "Gentlemen, gentlemen." And I started running the meeting. And then I went and I walked out of there and went, "I will never, ever be intimidated by a room full of men again." Because I felt like I was their equal, you know? So I never thought that I needed National Women in Roofing, basically, but the hanging out with you all this time, even though I still don't go to the meetings or anything, because that is my personality, I understand it now.
Heidi Ellsworth: Well, and I think one of the things... And I think this has been the big shift, Vickie, not just for you, but for a lot of people is really being a part of National Women in Roofing isn't what you need or what you're going to get out of it, it's what you're going to give back and... Because, you know, a lot of people would say, "Well, you know, Heidi, you've been on executive teams, you know, on a big software company and worked with Carlisle, and you run your own business, you don't need that." But you know what? We need to give back. And we need... From giving back and helping other women, young women, all women network, find jobs, get promotions, stand up for themselves, in the end it's been the most fulfilling. I've gotten so much back from it that I didn't... A lot of women would say, "Well, if I'm going to pay $60 a year, what am I going to get?" And I'm always like, "It's not what you're going to get, it's what you're going to give." That's what really matters. And by giving and being a part of helping other people, you get so much in return.
Vickie Sharples: Well, you know, that's really powerful and now I feel a little guilty. It's the first time though. That was very powerful. So... Yeah. I just feel like it's really... I'm starting to understand things better in the last couple weeks. [crosstalk 00:15:00]
Heidi Ellsworth: I want to go back, Vickie, because I have to tell you. So, one of the things that's probably not one of my best assets is the fact that I'm kind of like... And you know this, I'm like, "Well, I'll give it so much time." To talk about it or explain it, and then I'll be like, "Okay." And I just leave and go on. Right? I just move on. I don't get real... I'm not a real... I can't think of the word right now, but I only spend so much time. And then really both you and I really have to give kudos to Jennifer Stone, because both of you really challenged me on that. It's like, "No. You need to stop and you need to talk about it and you need to be willing to confront and to help educate. Not just help women, but educate men on what's happening." And that's been a lot harder for me because I'm kind of like, you know, "You either get it or you don't." And it's... I'm not going to think one way good or bad or indifferent about that person, whereas you telling that story about your garage door really makes me think about that because you were cool enough to be like, "Okay, I get it. He's an older guy. He doesn't know what he's saying." But the next sell? If he came and did that with me? I wouldn't buy it from him.
Vickie Sharples: No.
Heidi Ellsworth: He would lose the sale.
Vickie Sharples: I know.
Heidi Ellsworth: So, by us actually sharing our stories, and sharing that and being honest and not judging, just saying, "Are you aware that by, you know, thinking that this is man talk time, that you've just lost a sale?" You know? [crosstalk 00:16:42] That's actually going to help people. That's going to help men in their business too, because women... I've just seen all these stats. I've been doing, as you know, a lot of talks on this and looking at the stats and women are the majority, you know, when... I can't remember the exact percentage, but it's... I think it was around 70% of household decisions are always made by women.
Vickie Sharples: Right.
Heidi Ellsworth: So, your guy, you know?
Vickie Sharples: I know.
Heidi Ellsworth: He's going to have some problems down the road.
Vickie Sharples: But the thing is that we need to... Like you had to educate me. I mean, you're educating me. And you got to be patient with me because sometimes I don't get it at first because it's not something I ever felt I needed but now I realize that I do use that. You know, here's another story. By the time we get off of this talk today, nobody's ever going to... Or no girls are ever going to want to talk to me again. I walked in... I've told this story to you before, I believe. I had some bad water in my pool. There was something, like a weird little thing, so I took my little water sample into the pool supply and a girl walked out. And I went, "Oh. Darn it. A guy's not here." And then I went, "What the-"... And then she looked at my water and goes, "Oh. This is wrong. You put this little chemical in." And then I went, "I just did that to myself." That's what I felt. That's what I told myself, "I just discriminated-"... Or, "I did that to myself." Because I worked at a roofings place and the guys would come to the counter, or anywhere with... Like if I went and did calls with Mick, they would talk to Mick, but they would talk to the man behind me, the dispatcher or the whatever, they'd look for the man. And the man always... Every guy I've ever worked with, would refer the question back to me. So, if I was at a counter and a guy looked over me, the man behind me would say, "Well, Vickie, what do you think?" You know what I mean? So, you know, that's happened, but it never really registered before. So, we talked a little bit about this. Now, what am I, as a male business owner... You know, so I'm a roofing contractor, I got 10 guys, I got a lady in the office, what am I going to do different? Because remember ignorance. Sometimes we're just ignorant.
Heidi Ellsworth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Vickie Sharples: So like you have to explain to people why this is necessary. So what are you going to tell me to do differently in my business?
Heidi Ellsworth: You know, what I would say is try to look outside of your preconceived notions. Right? A preconceived notion, I've talked to... And, you know, Vickie, I want to go back and say I agree with you on a lot of it is just either... Maybe ignorance, but even just the way you've been raised, right? And so a number of men are very protective, you know? They've been the protector of the family and they have been taught to be protective of women and children, right? That's what... Women and children, you know? And watch out. And so what happens is I'll talk to some gentlemen, they'll be like, "Well, it's just not a safe place on the roof for women." And I kind of look at them and I say, "Well, is it a safe place on the roof for men?" "Well, yeah." And I said, "So, what's the difference? And what kind of culture do you have that a place that's safe for your men but it's not safe for women?" I said, "That seems like a cultural thing to me. And that maybe you need to reevaluate because, in the day of OSHA and of technology and of the new products that we have, it's not the same as we're mopping down 4-plys with a hot tar." Even then, it wouldn't matter. Men or women could do it, but we do have strength issues at times. Not all. And today that's just not the case. No one is supposed to be lifting too much, no one... OSHA rules that.
Vickie Sharples: Right.
Heidi Ellsworth: And so, you know, business owners, I would say, if you're having labor problems, you need to start looking better because 51% of the population are women. Women multitask, that's just part of our DNA, we are very detailed... Well, some women are very detailed-oriented. Not one of my favorite things. But the... You know, when you look at the crews that are out there, the full women crews? I mean, but the professionalism on the roof just goes through.... I mean, it's just huge. It just brings a whole different dynamic. It changes the culture. So, to business men and women out there, because women think the same way as men, you need to open up your minds and realize that things have changed. It's... You know, if you are truly following OSHA law, if you have a good culture in your business of respect, then there's no reason a woman can't work anywhere and should be. You should have women and minorities every... You know, you need to look at every nationality, every minority out there, because they are going to bring such depth of culture to your business and they also will bring their individual talents. Whether it's on the roof or in the office or out in the sales team, they're really missing out. And here's the things... Sorry, I'll keep going. One more thing because this is really important. [crosstalk 00:22:14] The next generation... Yeah. Millennials, Gen-Z, Gen Alpha, there's a lot of reports out there, [inaudible 00:22:23] study... There's just tons of... Deloitte does one too. And number one cause and number one most important thing for this next generation is equality. So if you do not treat and have a diverse culture in your business, you most likely will not be bringing in the next generation, which again is going to hurt your business. And that next generation is going to start their own businesses. They're going to have diversity, and I'm already seeing it, I've seen some great... I mean, Greta with Golden? She talked on our coffee conversations. And huge, diverse, young, all millennials, they're just killing it, they're roofing company. And so it's really going to take profit and revenue away from people who don't go down this road. There'll be out of business.
Vickie Sharples: Well, it's for business, but it could solve so many problems as far as labor goes. I mean, if we can have... I know that you guys are all working on all that, but women on the roof? The guys that I've always talked to loved women roofing, as part of the crews, they loved them, it's just that no women really wanted to do it. But maybe they didn't feel safe with guys being, you know, pigs sometimes. Not all men, but you know what I mean? Guys just being... Saying things or, you know, staring at you when you're walking up a ladder. Things like that. Making you feel uncomfortable, but that's just cause there's bad guys out there. You know? Getting rid of those guys. But me, as a roofing contractor, could think about it all of my business, how am I treating... Do I think of a woman in the office? Does she want to be an estimator or do I just make her answer the phones? Do my salespeople really know to treat their customers with respect? So, it's just all part of our... What we're doing now, you know?
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah.
Vickie Sharples: We're moving in that direction, so it's all good. It's just that sometimes I'm afraid of saying the wrong things. Like I was totally afraid of saying the wrong things in this podcast, but I thought it was important that I show ignorance as a woman, you know? Because not every woman gets why I need it, but I've needed it all along. I just never really realized it and how important it was, but I always had you. So... You know, to talk to. But I didn't think... I guess, everybody needs a Heidi to talk to. So, you're... You know? Yeah. It was just all very thought provoking. So, somebody explained to me that... I wanted to do the Black Lives Matter because I'm thinking this really tied in for me. Is they said, think about this, you tell your husband, "Do you love me?" And he says, "Well, I love everybody." And that was the explanation, to me, I kind of got it. I went, "Well... But I'm talking about me." And so then you go, "Oh. Now I get it." And so, for some reason, now I get trying to understand a woman, you know? "Well, we all need to belong in one organization." "Well-"... You know? And so that... I don't know if that correlates at all, everybody's just rolling their eyes, going, "What the hell is she talking about?" But that's what made me really understand. I go, "Oh. So, the women. We need to understand-"... You know what I mean? It just like totally made me understand, by that statement. And so I don't know. I don't know.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. And I think it really goes back to, you know, walking in other people's shoes.
Vickie Sharples: That's it.
Heidi Ellsworth: You know? Is we just... People sit out there and try to say, "Well, this is how they feel." Well, you don't know. You're not walking in my shoes.
Vickie Sharples: Right.
Heidi Ellsworth: You don't know how I feel. I appreciate that you're trying, but... And so that's how I kind of feel. I feel that we have definite problems in our society on prejudice and of people not being inclusive and that... But there's also, on the other side of it, there's awesome examples of people working together in coalitions and inclusiveness and the numbers are showing... You know, the numbers are showing that diversity and inclusion is a huge ROI for business. And so people who... You just have to realize, we all kind of think, "Oh. Well, everything's okay." But it's not. And we all have to stand up. And stand up, you know, for the... In fact, I have the perfect example, Vickie. This lady from Chicago Union. She works... Sarah Singer. She works in union in Chicago, a pipe fitter, and we were on a panel together speaking. And she was talking about, you know, she's had all kinds of terrible things happen. Her windows broken, people like, "Women shouldn't be in the union." All those kind of things. And she was in a meeting one time and the people in the room started bad-mouthing and saying nasty things about a Hispanic gentlemen. And she stood up and she said, "This is wrong. You can't talk about him like that. I'm not going to stand for it." And she put a complaint in. And the moral of that story was she looked at the audience as we were talking, she looked at me because we were going back and forth, and she says, "If I don't stand up for other people who are being disrespected, who's going to stand up for me?" And that was like one of the most powerful things I think I've ever heard.
Vickie Sharples: Wow.
Heidi Ellsworth: And that would be scary to get in a whole group of men and, as the only woman, and stand up for another gentlemen. But she's... Man. She's brave and tough. So, it's really inspired me to be that. Be like her.
Vickie Sharples: Yeah. That is a great story.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah.
Vickie Sharples: Well, did I feel like our talk today was inspiring or make you understand that there's still people that don't get it?
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah.
Vickie Sharples: They are. But they're not bad people, they just don't walk in... So, really when you... You said this twice, "Walking in someone else's shoes." That's really... That, to me, was the takeaway from today.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. I think so.
Vickie Sharples: So when you do that and you understand what it must be... You know, it's scary for a girl to come into a man's world. And, you know, they're not going to assume she's smart right off, they're not going to assume that. I remember one lady, a roofer that I met, I just fell in love with her. She was from Texas and her name was Lakeisha. And she was saying that they instantly assume that you don't understand. And she was super smart and was quite studied in what she was in, and, you know... And then it's scary if they're going to tease you or whatever. You know.
Heidi Ellsworth: Right. You know what, Vickie? This goes right back... I mean, I love... I think this is how we should end this podcast today, because what it does, it goes back to what's our most treasured core value of Roofers Coffee Shop? Roofing respect. And roofing respect isn't just about respecting roofing professionals, it's about respecting all the people. All the different diversity, being inclusive, getting rid of bullying or hazing on the roof, really showing professionalism and respect. And that's what... Roofing respect is just so much bigger. It's something that as an industry, we can show that we have respect for all people and we are inclusive of all people. We want everybody who wants to be in roofing to come into this great industry that has been so awesome to you and I.
Vickie Sharples: Yeah. Well, good talk, honey. I really feel like I'm a little more enlightened and I hope I still have friends left that are women in the industry.
Heidi Ellsworth: I think you do, because I think this is a great discussion. In fact, I'm really excited to hear what the ladies at National Women in Roofing think. I think it will be very positive.
Vickie Sharples: Good. Yeah. It better or I'll have a stone thrown through my window. No. I'm kidding.
Heidi Ellsworth: No.
Vickie Sharples: No. I'm kidding. I'm enlightened now. I get it. But I thought rather than enlightening a man, this was important, that you enlighten me as a woman. So, good. Good talk.
Heidi Ellsworth: Perfect. Thank you.
Vickie Sharples: Good talk.
Heidi Ellsworth: This conversation was awesome. And I want to invite everybody listening to come back again. We have these kind of... You know, you never know what we're going to talk about. And sometimes it goes a little deeper, like today, and other times we're going to share some things you might not even know about Roofer's Coffee Shop. But, for today, I want to thank you all for listening, for being here with Vickie and I, and have a great day.
Vickie Sharples: Bye.
Heidi Ellsworth: Bye.