In the early 80s, women of the tile industry were generally in the accounting departments and maybe in the showroom. Very few were in outside sales or in ownership. Over the years, things have certainly changed. Now you can find women in all aspects of the industry; manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, installation and maintenance. Did this change come about deliberately or accidentally? Are we embracing the change or just tolerating it? Are we capitalizing on the opportunity that having more women in the industry affords?



My career in the industry began back in the early 80s when women of tile were generally in the accounting departments and maybe in the showroom. Very few were in outside sales or in ownership. Over the years, things have certainly changed. Now you can find women in all aspects of the industry; manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, installation and maintenance. Did this change come about deliberately or accidentally? Are we embracing the change or just tolerating it? Are we capitalizing on the opportunity that having more women in the industry affords?

What I hope for this column to provide are ideas that enable us to become thought-leaders by capitalizing, incorporating, supporting and honoring women in the tile industry. Many of us know and have read articles on the importance of women clients in our showrooms. As important as that is, we should also learn and understand the positive effects women can have on the tile industry and our business.

Is There a Cultural Shift?

Many of the references I have read on the subject refer to a monumental shift of power from men to women in our culture - this inevitable change is happening throughout many industries. I would like to hope that this is not a shift from men TO women but a shift to include a greater percentage of women in leadership roles within our organizations. I am a true proponent of balance, which demands both the yin and the yang.

There are several ways we can address this inevitable cultural change; adaptation and resistance.
  • Adaptation involves surviving by assimilating the new emerging culture and egalitarian sensibilities. Understanding, including and implementing advantages women bring to the industry.
  • Resistance to this trend includes sacrificing business to disrupt and delay the inevitable keeping the old culture on life support.
As a part of keeping abreast of various business practices, I often visit showrooms and retail operations to see what works and what doesn’t. I was shocked recently to go into a tile showroom in Denver that had a rack of about 15-20 business cards of sales associates and not one woman in the group. How can this be in this day and age in a fashion industry like tile?

Prejudices Exposed

We all have preconceived beliefs, opinions, or judgments about women in the workplace. I believe prejudices can be overcome by allowing them to surface and then using a logical mind to reason with those ideas that we hold to be true.

Often times our prejudices are based on a one time interchange with someone. I had a bad experience with a George. Does this mean all Georges are bad? Of course if I believed that all Georges were bad, then would I not look for every negative I could find in every George I met?

In the coming columns, I look forward to sharing ways we can maximize this cultural shift to work to our advantage by increasing sales and profitability in whatever segment of the tile industry we are in. I guarantee we’ll also have some fun on our journey.