FEBRUARY 1, 2023 – While diversity within the flooring industry remains an uphill battle, women in flooring are gaining a bigger and better foothold as each year passes. Still, women in business face challenges every day that their male counterparts do not. Equitable pay and equitable recognition and opportunity, for example, are just a few of the hurdles women in business must face today.
To bring light to those challenges and the innovative ways women overcome them, FCNews senior editor, Megan Salzano, sat down with nine high-ranking and influential women in flooring: Olga Robertson, president, FCA Network; Anne Funsten, president, Tom Duffy Company; Ericka Robinson, CFO, Tom Duffy Company; Traci Smith, vice president of operations, Tom Duffy Company; Carole Cross, founder & CEO, Mobile Marketing; Kaye Whitener, director of operations, FCEF; Theresa Fisher, SVP visual merchandising & brand development, CCA Global Partners; Andrea Blackbourn, executive director, FCIF; and Maryanne Adams, president/CEO, Avalon Flooring.
Each woman spoke candidly on a number of topics, including their personal experiences as women in business, how gender might have affected their career paths, innovative ways they’ve tackled hurdles and which challenges they feel are faced by women and not men. We also asked some of these women to touch on the topic of diversity and how a more diverse industry could spell success for all those involved.
Founder and CEO, Mobile marketing
What has been a major challenge in business for you?
One of the biggest career challenges I have faced was becoming a mother. At the time my son was born, I was in a leadership position and climbing the corporate ladder for a Fortune 500 company. I had to learn how to balance the expectations of an 80-hour work week with having a new baby. I had to learn how to keep up with my job, which was at an industry-leading technology company, while caring for a child. In tech industries especially, things change very quickly, even in a few short weeks. I couldn’t walk away and step back onto the ladder in the same place I had stepped off. I am thankful for my husband, who became the stay-at-home parent to help care for our son.
What challenges do you think women face in this industry that men do not?
The balance of having a family and pursuing a career is different for women than men because of societal expectations and pressures. It’s not that a man never faces balancing work with a family, but I do think it is a different situation for women. We have to work harder to show we can do it all.
How have you coped with challenges?
I was fortunate to have a mentor who was a male—and a friend of the family—who taught me how to be a professional and understand how professional men think. He taught me how to navigate my career as a result. I also worked for a female CEO and I took the initiative to have lunch with her occasionally. Sometimes it isn’t easy to take that step especially if you’re an introvert—but it’s important to build these relationships and learn from others. Having mentors is an invaluable experience.
What do you believe diversity would bring to this industry?
I’d like to see more diversity in flooring, not just male and female but different cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds, etc. It is from diversity that creativity really grows. There are so many opportunities for people of all backgrounds in the flooring industry. And if we want to continue to grow the flooring industry, we need to appeal to future generations, and we can do that through diversity and inclusivity.