I am a huge advocate of diversity but sometimes I think that the term is misunderstood. When I talk about diversity in business, I feel it means finding the right person for the right job. What is the right person? Someone who can excel at the job utilizing their gifts, strengths and brilliance. Those qualities are not determined by gender, age, ethnicity or sexual preference. It is determined by the person.
Being brilliant and being given the chance to work toward your strengths is what every person wants. And when it happens, it creates a culture of diversity and brilliance that every company needs. But it cannot stop there. You may succeed in hiring using those standards but once you bring in diverse employees, it is just as important that current employees embrace that same idea of respect or it will crumble, and you will lose those new employees.
Respect is understanding that if the person can do the job and do it well, they should be given the chance to prove themselves. I have heard so many times that women cannot be on the roof, since they are not physically strong enough. I can introduce you to some amazing women who work on the roof and love it every day. They have embraced installation techniques that work for everyone. Let’s face it, OSHA has equalized the roof when it comes to past beliefs that it takes only brute strength.
I have also seen employees pigeon-holed. If they work in the field, some companies do not believe they can work in management. I know many young people who have started in the field who need to be given opportunities to grow. At the roofing shows this year, I have seen tremendous talent that is just waiting to be a part of company leadership. When they are not included or encouraged, they start looking around or look at starting their own business. That is not good for long-term employees. Trust me, this next generation is not going to wait for us to figure it out. They will just go and do it.
And how often are minorities underestimated on what they can do. Maybe because English is not the first language, some assume that they cannot do more then what they are currently doing. Those are the employees who understand roofing inside and out and will make tomorrow’s estimators, sales people and owners. Find the gems and no matter what they look like promote and embrace the differences for a successful business. If you don’t, someone else will and that is what can make or break company culture.
Roofing Respect is what we live by at RCS. It is not just Respect from the outside looking at roofers that we are encouraging; it is respect for every person in roofing and making them part of our roofing family. That is what a strong company culture is all about. It is about people knowing they are respected for the work they do and the potential they bring to the company no matter who they are, look like or love. Treat all people with respect, make it start at the top and watch it improve your business.
Heidi Ellsworth is owner of HJE Consulting Group and a partner in RoofersCoffeeShop.com. See her full bio here.