Women have become more prevalent in the construction world, yet they remain a clear minority. Many organizations aim to support women in the construction world, including NAHB Professional Women in Building. The organization is geared towards women in the home building industry.
Background/History of PWB
Originally chartered in 1955 under the name NAHB Women’s Auxiliary, the original mission was to be an avenue for the wives of homebuilders to socialize. Over the years, the group’s aims changed, as did its name. In 1989, the name was changed to Women’s Council, and in 2009 the current name was adopted.
PWB is the largest growing council within NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), according to National PWB Chair, Terri Everhart. Currently, there are 2,725 members in 70 councils across the country. Everhart aims to add five more councils in 2022.
The organization has a diverse membership. “Our membership is comprised of women and men throughout the federation, not based on age, profession or within any other silo,” Everhart says. Each member is affiliated with the home building industry – whether it’s in the field, back offices, or in an industry that serves the industry, such as insurance, marketing, etc.
Aims of the Organization
According to the organization’s website, PWB is “…dedicated to promoting industry professionalism and supporting members at the local, state and national levels.”
Through education, professional development, and networking opportunities, PWB helps members acquire and develop invaluable leadership and business management skills that boost career success.
Everhart elaborates, “Our mission is the voice of women in the building industry. We’re dedicated to providing the Federation with strong leaders and are a trusted partner for long-range planning and strategies for NAHB goals and objectives.”
To be the voice of an industry is a big responsibility. One way to be a voice is to grow awareness of women in the industry.
Mindy Lepp is the 2022 Chair of the Jacksonville, Florida PWB Council and is a member of the NAHB PWB Membership and Communication Subcommittee. Her chapter of PWB has gone to local schools and Boys and Girls Clubs and talked to girls. “We let them know that they can be in the industry too,” Lepp says. “We do demonstrations and STEM projects to bring awareness of some of the work that is done in the home construction industry.”
Good to know you
Like most professional organizations, PWB also offers networking and social opportunities.
This is what initially drew Lepp to the organization. She and her husband own and operate LEPPDESIGN, a full-service marketing company. Nearly a decade ago, the company began developing a niche in the building industry.
When the couple and their children moved to Florida, Lepp figured, “We have this niche. Let’s run with it.” So, she joined the local home builders association. Eventually, she ended up at PWB. “I was drawn in by the size and camaraderie from the very first meeting. There’s a sisterhood in a way.”
One of the benefits that Lepp feels she got from the group includes great networking relationships. “I’ve gotten business from being part of the group as I got to know members and they got to know me,” Lepp says.
“PWB members agree that they are more successful business professionals because of the support they receive from peer members,” says the organization’s website. Studies back up this claim as the company earnings of PWB members are 22% higher than those who are not members.
Professional and personal
Other benefits of being part of the organization include professional development. The organization offers, “Access to professional development resources, forums that hone leadership skills, and national recognition within the largest network of residential construction industry professionals also give them a competitive edge.”
Lepp’s PWB chapter has luncheons every quarter. Besides the social aspect, they invite speakers to discuss relevant topics ranging from the generalized building industry to women in business. The aim is to provide members with something valuable they can take back to their place of work.
The chapter meets once a month, and some meetings are more casual. They provide members an opportunity to share concerns, successes, and more. “It’s a support system for women in the industry that are doing the same thing,” says Lepp. “The meetings provide a great opportunity to get plugged in, get to know each other, and help each other out.” Informal mentoring and answering questions also typically occur at the meetings.
The support system goes beyond the local chapter. The organization’s Facebook group has over 3000 members. The active page enables people to tap into the knowledge of other members, post relevant articles, and collaborate on a national level.
Women are in the house
A secondary aim of the organization is to grow awareness in the industry that women are part of it. One might think we are beyond such needs these days. However, “It’s still a struggle particularly for women in trades,” says Lepp.
The Jacksonville chapter of PWB welcomes men to events. There have been male speakers at the luncheons as well.
By growing awareness that women are in the industry, Lepp hopes there will be changes and adjustments to make it more welcoming for women. Those adjustments include simple considerations like proper restroom facilities and harnesses that fit women properly are just a couple of examples of ways that the industry can make alterations that will allow women to feel as though they are welcome.
NAHB Professional Women in Building is striving to support women in the industry. Moving forward, Everhart says, “We will continue to support and celebrate women as a visible component of the construction and home building industry. We will strive to encourage members to reach farther, grow with the federation and expand their passions into leadership roles.”