International Women’s Day, March 8th, is not only a day to celebrate the political, social, economical and cultural accomplishments of women, but also a day to garner attention towards the need to accelerate gender equality. A nonprofit corporation, titled Women in the Flooring Industry, also known as WIFI, ushered in a new era towards decreasing the gender disparity particularly in the flooring industry on International Women’s Day of 2021 in Dalton, GA. According to their founder and current Pro Tem Chairman Emily Morrow Finkell, CEO of EF Floors & Design, “WIFI was formed specifically to grow the floor covering industry and the next generation of women within it.” While this isn’t the first group of women to form an organization in the flooring industry, WIFI has laid a foundation to become more formally organized and be around for decades to come by applying for 501c3 status, establishing Articles of Incorporation, approving bylaws and selecting officers.
The fundamentals of WIFI center around empowering, connecting, supporting, encouraging, developing, educating, inspiring and attracting current and potential women in the flooring industry. Through networking, leadership development, mentorship and relationship-building opportunities, women will not only exist and learn, but thrive and succeed. WIFI is able to achieve this by partnering with SURFACES, the largest North American flooring event, and media partners because it gives them a global platform to provide teaching opportunities, whether online or in person, arrange networking events and recognize women who go above and beyond in the flooring industry. The high visibility and accessibility of WIFI is what makes them rival other organizations because these women have the chance to network and share their experiences and skills like never before.
Organizations with missions and goals like WIFI are essential because the flooring industry is typically conceived as a male-dominated industry given the physical labor, technical aspects, and the type of laborers you associate with such as builders, contractors, architects and engineers- which are also historically male-dominated careers. WIFI helps raise awareness that given the right resources and training, women can continue to grow, learn and excel in the flooring industry. According to Zippia, 64.3% of flooring sales specialists are men, and 32.1% are women. So while that number has grown from previous years, and shows promise of continuing to increase, there is still a need to push women into the flooring industry because it allows for a contrasting perspective and it’s mutually beneficial to flooring customers given that the majority of customers are women. Who is going to have a keener insight for learning and understanding a (woman) customer’s taste than a woman? Furthermore, a woman flooring specialist would prove to women flooring customers that breaking into a male-dominated industry is possible, and hopefully inspire and raise their confidence to work in the field, strengthening the industry as a whole.
Traditionally speaking, women opt for jobs that involve helping others or jobs where they can express their creativity and style. What people don’t realize, especially women, is that the flooring industry offers the best of both worlds. Whether you’re designing a flooring, assisting a customer choose the flooring design or installing the flooring, you’re helping someone in a way you’ve probably never thought about. New flooring can transform a house into a home and be what ties the whole space together; new flooring can be what finally seals the deal and allows someone to finally sell their house; new flooring can refurbish a house after a natural or emergency disaster.
You don’t have to be a part of WIFI to break into the flooring industry as a woman. WIFI is paving the way by showing solidarity amongst women in this profession and ensuring that the women for a potential ability in flooring feel supported, confident and have the skills to be a woman in the flooring industry, for a long, long time.