In several past columns, I’ve discussed how sustainability involves people, especially in terms of how the health and safety of roofing personnel can be enhanced through the use of permanent fall protection, low chemical-emitting materials and efficient ergonomic tools. But just as important as health and safety is the issue of opportunity: the opportunity for all people to have a chance to grow and find success in our industry.

The May issue of Roofing Contractor featured the 2015 Editor’s Choice honorees who made contributions for the betterment of the industry in the past year. Many introduced new and innovative products that increase energy efficiency and reduce environmental impacts of roofing materials, while others developed new business systems to make the industry more efficient and productive. But the programs that really caught my attention were two new initiatives that will expand the human opportunities our industry offers. Since I’ve said many times before that sustainability ultimately is about people, I wanted to be sure that everyone is aware of these new programs and what they can do to make your company more “people sustainable.” Both of the people programs recognized in the 2015 Editor’s Choice are sponsored by the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA), and in my opinion they both deserve a second mention.

The first is Women in Roofing (WinR), launched by the MRCA at its 65th annual conference in Dallas. Developed by successful women roofing professionals, the program focuses on networking for women within the industry with an emphasis on mentoring for incoming young women, professionals and business owners. The WinR program provides a great opportunity for female professionals currently in your company, and it should be very helpful in attracting more women to productive and successful careers in roofing. To learn more about this exciting program, visit and select the WinR menu tab.

The second program launched by MRCA is the Hispanic Hiring Kit, which targets the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. labor force — and probably more than 90 percent of the available roofing workforce. Developed by Ricardo Gonzalez of Bilingual America to bridge the gap between the American roofing industry and Latino workers, the kit offers culturally relevant information to guide roofing companies through the recruiting and hiring processes. Included in the kit are sample recruitment ads and posters, as well as a job application, assessment forms and guides to important legal issues such as work visas. But most important in the kit are several instructional CDs where Gonzalez discusses step by step how to attract and retain Hispanic workers with a culturally relevant and professional approach.

I’ve had the opportunity to hear Ricardo speak about the unique contributions and challenges of the Hispanic workforce, and in my opinion, he delivers unique insights that can help any roofing contractor attract qualified Latino workers and build an internal culture of business success for everyone involved. So, if you’re recruiting or managing personnel from the Hispanic community (or as another way of saying it, if you’re currently not living under a rock), the Hispanic Hiring Kit will be your best investment in 2015. For more information, visit or

 Finally, I’d like to extend my personal thanks to MRCA for investing in these important human aspects of sustainable roofing, and I wish them the best of success in establishing both programs as long-term features of our industry.