Here at CCA Global Partners, we have a significant number of women executives and women in managerial roles. Equality is important to any cooperative’s success, and we know that better than anyone with 41 percent of our senior leadership roles filled by women —double that of the national average.
However, in an industry such as flooring, that is still very much dominated by men, it’s important for the women of the industry to stand together to have a voice. It was for this purpose that the Women of CCA forum was born.
The group is still fairly new, having begun only a short year ago at CCA’s last winter convention. At its inception, there were two groups: the Women of Carpet One Floor & Home and the Women of Flooring America/Flooring Canada. Their first event at the convention was a success, featuring round table open discussions and a panel of women executives, but following convention, the committee decided to move forward as one group.
“We realized from the women’s reactions and high level of engagement that the next logical step was to gain strength and numbers by combining the two groups together,” Carpet One Floor & Home’s Vice President of Regional Network Groups, Sally Kelly said.
While ideally men and women in business would be treated equally and have their fair share of opportunities, the reality is that women still face a number of challenges within the business world.
“We have aspirational goals that there's equality and everything is a utopia but the reality is that some challenges are very specific to women in business,” Vice President of CCA Global University Nicole Harding said. “Like how you might be treated at a bank. Or how you may be treated in a vendor population where all of the players are male. Some of the challenges that we're able to reckon with are very specific to women. We don't need to focus on that —we just know that.”
Sally agrees, noting the importance of holding a space that is made for just women as it amplifies women’s voices and creates a comfortable place for issues to be discussed.
“My theory behind it is: women in business, men in business, we are different,” Sally explained. “We present ourselves differently, we focus on different things and there's a different comfort level being with all women. There is a freedom to express questions or doubts that you may be afraid of in a mixed group. So, that is really what the objective is: to help grow the confidence and skill set of our women executives, our women store owners.”
Meeting every fourth Wednesday of the month, the Women of CCA holds a webinar that typically hosts two female speakers: one within the flooring industry and one outside of it.
“We try to schedule a mixture of business and non-business topics that can relate to both the left and the right side of the brain,” Sally noted. “We want to connect with them emotionally as well as logically.”
For instance, at the February meeting, the Women of CCA forum brought in a cardiologist to discuss work-life balance and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as the woman controller for CCA to remind the women of key metrics and numbers where they need to focus.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck unexpectedly last March, many of the women found themselves grateful to be a part of this group where they could discuss not only best business protocols but also personal issues.
“In the beginning of the pandemic, we were reaching out to our members making sure they were applying for PPP and aware of other financial lifelines available to them. Our members appreciated this. Many said this was a time they felt the power of the co-op and they knew they were not alone,” Flooring America’s Vice President of Member Services Nancy Trafford noted. “It was just such a blessing to be in a group like this.”
According to Flooring America’s Member Specialist Sara Skaggs, the committee shows the lengths at which women will go to help one another.
“Just to see the camaraderie, it's different on calls that are all members male and female,” Sara said. “In the women's forum, there's just a sense of wanting to help each other and wanting to share ideas. In this group the women are so willing to reach out to each other to share what they're doing and that's definitely an important aspect of it.”
For Vice President of Public Relations Terri Daniels, creating a forum for women to support each other throughout business and personal matters has had a positive impact on her.
"Joining a women's networking group is an inspiring experience and enables women to appreciate the unique ideas and opportunities created by other women," Terri explained. "The CCA Women's Group is a place to connect, communicate, share experiences, exchange ideas and knowledge. When a group of supporting women get together, they can also discuss matters affecting them. We can discuss topics like health, work-life balance, and personal branding within the closed group. Hearing stories and challenges other women overcome can be a huge motivator."
This committee is just a small reflection of business today. As Nancy notes, women are navigating the flooring industry quite well. Women are finding their place in an industry that has been a historically male dominated business.
“This group of women gives us a platform to network and support each other,” Nancy said.
While the meetings are all held virtually for now, the Women of CCA are still showing up strong via Zoom and holding a space not only for exchanging information, but for generating new ideas.
“It's not only about engagement but it is about action and results,” Nicole said. “I think that we're seeing our ability to touch a lot more people so that they can then take the action to make their businesses better. That's a big deal. Especially during a pandemic.”
Meet the full Women of CCA Committee below:
Sally Kelly, VP of Regional Network Groups
Nancy Trafford, VP of Member Services
Terri Daniels, VP of Public Relations
Nicole Harding, VP of CCA Global University
Sara Skaggs, Member Specialist