As the roofing industry is looking to gain talented labor for today and tomorrow, I believe we need to look beyond our current workforce makeup. According to U.S. Labor reports, only 2% of the roofing industry is made up of women. Yet, 51% of the population is female. In terms of recruiting, that represents a very large pool to pull from.
Speaking of diversity, currently over half of the employees working in roofing are Hispanic. How welcoming have we made the industry to other cultures and languages? RoofersCoffeeShop.com is working right now to offer translation options on the Coffee Shop so it can be read in English or Spanish. We are working hard ourselves to make the site welcoming. We need the talent of all cultures welcomed into the industry and we need to not just talk about it.
And, although the millennials are a much smaller population than the baby boomers, they are our future. What are we doing as an industry to recruit them and retain their talent. Too often I hear about how “they” don’t get it. Ironically, it is the older generation who will have to figure “it” out since the younger generation will be ruling the world in 20 years or so.
So, when it comes to recruiting, I believe that we need to be looking broader and creating a work space that welcomes all types of people with a focus on company culture that makes employees want to stay. Following are some key tips on developing a diverse recruiting and retainment program.
Start with your current business. Look at what you are doing now first. What is the make up of your company? Is there any diversity? Is diversity celebrated? Meet with women and minorities who are already working for you and ask about the company culture. Is it welcoming? Is it empowering? Employees who are celebrated and empowered are loyal and work harder because they believe in the company. They can also spread the word to their friends and family that it is a great place to work. Diversity starts with retaining minority employees first and then letting them spread the word
Promote from within. Make sure any overt barriers to promotion of internal candidates is removed. For example, is information about position openings and developmental opportunities accessible to all employees through an organization-wide posting system? Outside potential employees want to see that there is room for promotion no matter their gender or ethnicity. It is fine to say you support diversity but if there is no diversity in leadership or at least a clear path for promotion then it is just talk
Build a reputation. Roofing is a small industry and word spreads, both good and bad. To attract diverse types of employees, they want to see that they will have a good experience working for you. The younger generation is motivated by many things, but respect is at the top of the list. They want to be engaged, respected and rewarded and they will talk. If they are seeing great opportunities in an amazing culture they will let their friends know. That does not apply just to the younger generation it applies to all groups. And don’t say it unless you can back it. One incident of harassment that is not dealt with swiftly will blow years of a good reputation.
Image of your company. The image that your organization conveys to the public will affect your recruitment results. While your advertisements, brochures, social media and website help to form a certain perception of your company culture, sometimes information passed informally by word-of-mouth has an even greater impact. If your company is seen as one that offers real opportunities to diverse employees, where all employees are treated with respect and where senior management is composed of a mix of people, you will likely find diverse applicants coming to you. By sharing that strong image of your company with highlights of a progressive company culture it can become your strongest recruiting tool.
Build and expand your informal network. Like general recruiting, building relationships is even more critical in diversity recruitment. Your efforts will depend on the quality of the relationships you cultivate with diverse individuals and groups, both inside the organization and outside in the community. Understanding the needs of distinct groups is key. For example, when recruiting working parents being flexible regarding childcare is very important and could make the difference from an individual picking one company over another. Build relationships with women and minority organizations and understand the needs of those diverse groups. You can then position your company to attract the top potential employees.
Heidi Ellsworth is owner of HJE Consulting Group and a partner in RoofersCoffeeShop.com. See her full bio here.