As the owner of a construction company, the question I’m asked most often is, “What is it like being a woman in a man’s world?” I have to admit, it has its challenges - as well as its rewards - and I’ve learned a lot over the years.
Know Your Stuff
Often my knowledge and experience is initially doubted by men in the business. It’s just hard for them to believe that I would know anything about anchor bolts, stick framing, or collar beams. My background is in finance and customer service, so before I bought Collins Construction, I worked hard as an associate and learned everything I could about the industry. Now, some of those men who initially doubted my expertise are my repeat customers!
Integrity Is Key
Ginger Rogers said she did everything Fred Astaire did, backwards and in high heels! It’s a bit like that in the construction industry – people are watching me and wondering if I can handle it – even after running a successful company for the past eight years! The non-negotiable for me and my team is doing what we say we’re going to do. Even if we don’t have the answer right away, we let our client’s know that we’re working on it – and get back to them as soon as we can.
Toot Your Own Horn
I’ve found that women are often hesitant to share their successes. It’s just not in our DNA. Or maybe we were raised to think that sharing our accomplishments is considered “bragging”. But here’s the thing: when people hear about your achievements it gives you credibility. So, send out a press release, share a post on social media and let people know you’ve got what it takes to succeed!
Be A Team Player
Women are known for being detail-oriented. We’re the ultimate multi-taskers often juggling family, career, and personal interests. Because of this we also like to, ahem, manage every little detail. It’s important to surround yourself with a good team of people who know what they’re doing – then let them go do it! It’s also important to give credit to others when credit’s due. Even in a man’s world, a humble leader is a respected leader.
Have A Sense of Humor
While it’s important to take my work seriously, it’s equally as important to not take myself too seriously! Other than honesty, what’s the best way to bridge the divide between men and women in the workplace? That’s right, laughter. A little humor (as long as it’s appropriate, of course!) builds relationships and breaks down barriers. Besides, in a busy work environment, either in an office or out at a construction site, everyone could use a good laugh!
Dawn Morgan has been the owner of Collins Construction since 2009. The firm has recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and has offices in Savannah, GA and Beaufort, SC.