After more than 20 years as a woman in restoration and cleaning, I have come to realize a few things about men in our industry. And I believe they have also come to realize a thing or two about their women counterparts.
Men are courageous, ambitious, and committed to their work. They, as a general rule, don’t like doing paperwork, saving receipts, and leaving the football game on Sunday to suck water out of a basement. They LOVE to BBQ, spend time with their families, enjoy a cold beverage after a long week, and are fiercely independent.
You know what else I have learned about the majority of men in our industry? They really appreciate and value the women in our industry. Encounters are few and far between that suggest otherwise.
I will never forget the first time I showed up on a job to do a walkthrough with the insured and the adjuster on a loss. My boss (a man) got out of the truck first and the adjuster (a man) immediately shook his hand. When I stepped out with my clipboard in hand, the adjuster looked at me and said "shouldn’t you be in the office?" and kind of laughed a little, I think to soften the blow. He never once reached out to shake my hand that day.
This was in 2003 not 1953, and I couldn’t believe what had just happened.
I remember being a little ticked off but proceeded to go into the house and school him as I knew my way around contents and he had no clue. The next time I showed up on a job with him, he reached out immediately, shook my hand, and said he was glad we were working together again. He became one of my biggest fans, sending me every job that landed on his desk for many years. He even started calling me when he needed advice on other jobs I wasn’t working with him on.
Today, when I show up to train a group of men whether it’s at an industry event, one of our hands-on classes, or an onsite private company training event, not only do I feel appreciated and respected, I feel valued.
There are women in pretty much every role in restoration as CEO’s, managers, field technicians, estimators, editors, publishers, innovators, trainers, authors, and owners. There are even restoration companies that have all women employees!
I think the shift in perspective happened when it was no longer about being a man or a woman, and it became about being good at what you do. It gives us, as restorers, an ability to have a more wholistic approach in our work and for our clients.
Guys look, you are different than us girls. That’s a good thing! We should be celebrating our differences, not trying to downplay or eliminate them. It means we can bring our unique abilities, strengths, and perspectives together and serve our communities better than we ever have.
It is so great to see women recognized for their contributions to the industry. In large part, this has been accomplished with the help of our very own Michelle Blevins, editor of R&R, and Violand Management Associates, for creating and supporting the Women in Restoration Award.
As a woman, I appreciate very much the men we get to work alongside. I am grateful for each and every one of you.
The last thing I want to do is move a 25-cubic-foot refrigerator down a flight of stairs or climb on top of a roof to write an estimate. My son Travis, on the other hand, happily will do that part of the job while I handle inventory of the non-salvageable items in the kitchen. Not that either of us can’t do these tasks, but we each have different strengths and talents, so we take advantage of that.
And that, my friends, is the beauty of having women and men united on the front lines.