Left to Right: Maria Ford, Emily Morgan, Donna Whitaker, and Jackie Bates.
Left to Right: Maria Ford, Emily Morgan, Donna Whitaker, and Jackie Bates.

During its 2023 LMC Annual in Charlotte, the Lumbermens Merchandising Corporation (LMC) held two events as part of its TogetHER initiative. The initiative, launched in 2021 to encourage and inspire women in the industry and to bring all co-workers together “in the spirit of equal partnership and professional growth within LMC, the dealer network, and the supplier community,” according to the LMC.

When the initiative was launched in 2021, women made up only 11% of the workforce in the wider construction industry, not much larger than the share of the workforce decades ago. The two events at 2023 LMC Annual in Charlotte were designed to foster discussions around changes needed to not only encourage women in the construction industry, but also support them throughout their careers.

The 2023 TogetHER events kicked off with a panel of four leaders in the industry: CEO of Ashby Lumber Emily Morgan, executive vice president of Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems Jackie Bates, president of North America industrial and commercial sales and marketing at Stanley Black & Decker Maria Ford, and vice president of sales and marketing for Southern Yellow Pine-Interfor Donna Whitaker.

The panelists discussed how they have progressed their careers in the industry, leadership tactics, time management, mentorship. The panel also addressed concerns from attendees, such as the challenges faced in this industry around retention and recruitment of a younger diverse population.

The second TogetHER event, a roundtable discussion with over one hundred participants, yielded conversations about leadership at work and in the industry as well as next steps for continuing to support women who enter the building industry. Attendees discussed personal brands, how to support co-workers, and the importance of mentorship.

According to a survey of 10,001 women in the construction industry, 45% of women said they don’t have access to any mentor, and two in three women don’t have an opportunity to network with other women in the industry.

LMC’s member network represents more than $28 billion in combined retail sales across over 1,600 dealer locations in the United States and the Bahamas.