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Rainbow Rooftops: It’s Pride Month! - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Rainbow Rooftops - It’s Pride Month!
June 8, 2024 at 12:00 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Maureen Greeves, Joshua Adams, Justin Ray and Sarah Lechowich. You can read the interview below, listen to the podcast or watch the video!

Megan Ellsworth: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Coffee Conversations. As you can see, I am not Heidi. I am Megan Ellsworth today. And we're going to be talking about Pride Month in the roofing industry on this very special coffee conversation. First, a little housekeeping. This [inaudible 00:00:33] being recorded and it will be live on our site, rooferscoffeeshop.com, within 24 hours. So, if you know anyone that couldn't attend the live webinar this morning but wants to watch it, send them the link.

My beautiful assistant, Heidi Ellsworth, is in the background. In case you have any questions, you can always chat with her. And also I'd love to see where everyone's Zooming in from this morning. Let us know in the chat where you're Zooming in from and why, maybe, you wanted to attend this awesome coffee conversation. I'd love to hear why everyone's here.

First, I am going to share my screen. We will introduce our wonderful panelists. I am so excited. We have a great group of people today. Okay, here we go. As I said, this is Coffee Conversation. We're talking about Pride Month. I had first like to thank our sponsor, Tremco and WTI, for sponsoring this excellent episode and just being a forward thinker in the industry and supportive of all people no matter what. So, thank you, Tremco and WTI, Maureen and Justin for being here and supporting this awesome conversation.

Maureen, I'm going to have you start out by just introducing yourself and telling us a little bit about you.

Maureen Greaves: All right, well, hi everyone. Thanks for having me. Megan Heidi, love Roofers Coffee Shop. Thank you so much. Look forward to this event every year. I'm Maureen Greaves. I live in Cleveland, Ohio. I've got two girls at home. I've got an 18-year-old who's going off to college. I've got a 16-year-old who's getting her driver's license and taking her in cars now. And been in roofing for 13 years.

Megan Ellsworth: Amazing. So glad to have you Maureen.

Maureen Greaves: Thank you.

Megan Ellsworth: Joshua, let's hear from you. You're a newcomer this year.

Joshua Adams: Hello, everyone. Yes. Thanks for having me. Thanks to Roofers Coffee Shop and Heidi and Megan. Grew up in the roofing industry. Dad was a roofer. Went to school, got my BA in finance to escape and then it pulled me back in. But roofing's dear to my heart. Love the community. And thanks to everybody that's shown up and supports the panel today.

Megan Ellsworth: Yay. Yes. Also, shout out to Alex Toll for connecting us with Joshua. Really happy to have you here today.

Joshua Adams: We love Alex, a fellow central Oregonian.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes. Okay, Sarah, let's hear it.

Sarah Lechowich: All right, well, my name is Sarah Lechowich. I'm in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. I have been the owner of True North, this is my fourth season. Been in roofing for six seasons. Previous to that, I was a restaurant manager, college professor, worked with a union. I did a variety of things. And when I'm not roofing, I'm playing hockey or softball. Like Maureen, I have an 18-year-old who just graduated and a 16-year-old who's learning to drive. So, send the good vibes because that's hard.

Megan Ellsworth: That is hard. Wow. Twins. Okay, Justin, welcome. So glad to have you here.

Justin Ray: Yeah, thank you. Thank you, Megan. Thanks to all the attendees. My name's Justin Ray. I am here from Tremco CPG Inc. I am the corporate paralegal there. I was born and raised in Ohio. I'm in Cleveland now, so I didn't make it too far. But I've been with Tremco for about two years, and it's been a great experience.

Megan Ellsworth: Yay. We love Tremco here. I'm so glad.

Okay, so, this next slide, I'm very excited to share some great photos that Sarah shared with us. Let's dive into the first question, which is how has your gender identity and sexuality influenced your career in the roofing industry? And Sarah, I'd love for you to start and kind of expand on these photos and a little bit about what you do.

Sarah Lechowich: Well, I love riding motorcycles. This is a picture of me being ... I ride with Dykes on Bikes for the Pride Parade most every year. I decided to start putting my yard sign on when I'm riding. It's really fun because I'll get lots of pictures from clientele like, "Oh, I saw you." It's just really fun. I don't know.

Gender identity, sexuality. I think being a woman-owned business and then a queer-owned business, it's just not shying away from being in those spaces. I try to create an environment where people are seen, valued and heard both within my company but also my clientele, my homeowners. This is just one way of doing that.

The photo on the right is the gay rodeo. We're a major sponsor of the local gay rodeo. It's just one of those spaces where people don't normally find acceptance in that community, so I'm happy to support organizations that create those spaces. That's what I try to do with my company and out of house.

Megan Ellsworth: I think that's wonderful. All right, I'm going to stop sharing. We're just going to dive into this conversation right now. Does anyone else have anything to share on how your sexuality has influenced your career in the roofing industry?

Maureen Greaves: I think I hid most of my identity for a long time, so maybe the compromise here would be that if I had the ability to maybe feel more comfortable coming out and being my true, authentic self, maybe I would've done things a little differently. I don't think it hurt my career. I don't think it hindered my career in any way. I never felt like I was going to be at risk of employment. I've been extremely blessed that way. I feel very lucky that my experience has been so positive. But it's also a little scary coming into roofing from a company where I was out and proud and my coworkers were with me and my wife when we were having our children. And then coming into a new community in Tremco and roofing, it's been an amazing experience. It was a little scary at first, but roofing is awesome. There's a bunch of amazing people that work in this industry, hardworking, dedicated folks. I've been lucky enough to be embraced by this community, so, feel pretty lucky about it.

Megan Ellsworth: That's awesome. Yeah, I think that's a really special experience that you've had thanks to Tremco and WTI and everyone there.

Justin, anything to add on how being queer has influenced your career in the industry?

Justin Ray: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. And just to echo Maureen, I said I've been with Tremco for two years and actually, I have a pride sticker on the back of my car. I thought for the first time going to the office, I was like, "Oh, should I take it off? I don't know. It's a construction company." But honestly, I can say that I've been able to be my true and authentic self, and been embraced by the people that I work with. So, I've been very, very lucky, especially ...

I work in the legal department and I assist a lot with litigation. I will be on the phone with our roofers, our sales reps and things like that. And I have never faced any type of harassment or anything along those lines. I've been super, super lucky in that way. Most of the time they're just very afraid because legal's calling them and they're like, "What'd I do? What's happening?" And I reassure them it's fine. But yeah, it's been a really great experience.

Megan Ellsworth: That's awesome. Joshua, anything to add on this?

Joshua Adams: Yeah. It sounds like a lot of people are talking about authenticity on the panel. Whether gay, straight, an ally, I think that that is a bigger message, where we're talking about work influence, what people in the queer community bring to the workplace. I think it's that internal message out about being authentic that can influence everybody. Whatever side of the spectrum that you're on, bringing an authenticness into the workplace is something that people catch onto and is a spreadable ... It just can spread. I think that's an important piece to kind of highlight. Aside from queer identity, it's just important to foster an environment where people feel like they can be authentic because if you're coming from an authentic place, you're going to deliver such a different experience to your work environment and then to everybody that your product touches. So, I think that's just something nice to highlight.

Megan Ellsworth: Oh my gosh, yeah. I don't know if you guys can see, but there's all sorts of reactions popping up. A lot of people liked what you just said. I think that is so, so true and a great reminder, like you said, for everyone. You don't have to be in the queer community to show up to your workplace authentically and completely yourself. I think everyone, in fact, should be authentic. And I think roofing has such a great space for that and can be very welcoming.

I'd love to hear any personal stories or challenges you've faced in roofing and some experiences you've had, whether positive, neutral, not so positive, that you've experienced. Maybe we start with Justin? Throw you in the fire.

Justin Ray: Yeah, all right. I like it. I would say as far as challenges go, and I think this is just across the board, but you're working with a lot of different personalities. We have a large roofing crew all over the country, so adaptability is really important. But I think to Joshua's point earlier, being your true and authentic self and bringing that to the workplace and just working with all of these different personalities is key. I think it really adds value to the workplace. I think it adds value to what we do. And I believe that the different personalities get the job done, that it's truly an amalgamation of good work.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Agreed. Any experiences, Sarah, Maureen, being an owner in the space and providing a space for people?

Sarah Lechowich: Yeah, I'll take that. When I opened my company, I called it True North because it's all about finding your internal compass and getting back on your path. Two of my core values is we do better when we all do better, so, making sure that we're bringing everybody up with us and then all are seen, valued and heard.

Before I opened True North ... I am connected within my community, and I had these friends, lesbian couple. They had hired a contractor to come in and do their kitchen renovation, which is a really big project. They're in your space for a very long time, and you build a relationship with the workers. They were so excited and they thought they had this amazing experience with them. Then when the project was done, the contractor had called and left a voicemail and was talking to them about the final bill. The contractor thought that he had hung up, but he didn't. And then he went off on this incredible homophobic tirade about this couple that he had worked with and how excited he was that this project was done and a lot of hate.

It just reminded me that the queer community is welcoming folks into their home and they're trusting them. And you, as a lesbian or transgender, I mean, you have to be able to trust the people that are coming to your home and feel safe and secure and welcoming. So, my whole company is built around creating a place, a contractor that you can trust to come in where you can be your authentic self with this contractor, with the workers present, because I think that's sometimes a very scary thing for a lot of folks. That's how I try to ... Those are the stories that I hear. And then we try to show up and do something really well and create an environment where they do feel valued, both my workers and my homeowners. That's about the bigger, broader community.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow. Oh, wow. Thank you for sharing that. I think that is something that kind of gets glossed over sometimes. As a queer person, we had plumbers in the house a few weeks ago, and it's always a little, you never quite know. It can be definitely, not frightening but uncomfortable or you have a hesitation. It's wonderful what True North stands for and what you're doing in providing this safe space for homeowners and building owners to feel comfortable in their own home while it's being worked on. I think that's so important.

Maureen, any experiences to add before we hop into the next question?

Maureen Greaves: I think coming in from ... Thirteen years ago was a little bit of a different time in roofing. One of the things that I struggled with for sure was just coming from a company that offered my family and I benefits. There was a little bit of a time period in Tremco CPG, my time here, that we didn't get benefits. When I first came on board, it was just me. We had to kind of shuffle things around and make sure that my wife and my two children, my two girls had coverage. That was a little rough, right? [inaudible 00:15:33] it all is about this feeling that we're all talking about, being safe, protecting our family, protecting ourselves. So, it was a really good day when we were able to sign that paperwork and get coverage for everybody. It's been a positive. There's been positive changes that have happened. I appreciate that we have progressed as an industry, and I appreciate that Tremco CPG, RPM, that they have also continued to move with the times as well. That's been good.

Joshua Adams: Before we tea or break off, Sarah, don't you think that some of the negative commentary like that is oftentimes more performative than it is representative of how someone feels? At least, that's what I've kind of observed over the years, is that typically in those negative situations, sometimes those people might not even authentically be thinking in that negative way but might comment based on what they believe others want to hear. Which I think is something important to highlight because a lot of the roots of hate or negativity towards any marginalized group, oftentimes you'll see that it is performative and a lot of the times absent of even what they may think, but what they believe others want to hear from their close acceptance in their own circle, right? I think just bringing light to that is important in a general sense because sometimes people say things they don't mean at all just because they think that that's something that someone else wants to hear. I think that was just an important comment to add.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, absolutely. I actually totally agree with that. I think that is something we face in construction as a whole. I mean, not to bring up the Barbie movie, but I'm going to bring up the Barbie movie. The scene where she walks up to the construction site in the real world compared to the scene of the construction site in Barbie land is so different. I do wonder if that's ... I don't know if everyone out there has seen the Barbie movie, but if you haven't, you should. It's revolutionary. For example, like when she walks up to the construction site in Barbie land, it's all Barbies, it's all women. It says women at work. And then the real-world construction, she has some cat calling and different things. This isn't about that, but I think creating a more Barbie land experience where everyone can feel safe in that construction world, everyone, straight, gay, queer, whatever, male, female, non-binary. Not feeling like you have to put on that performative exterior, I think, for everyone can be helpful, in a sense. So, I loved that.

To pivot, if that's all right with everyone, because Maureen brought up healthcare and some policies and practices that Tremco has put into place, I'd love to hear if there are any policies, practices that have been particularly effective in your experience to provide a more inclusive environment in the companies you've worked for, in companies you own? Maybe what are some things that have helped you feel included as a queer individual in this industry with the companies you're at? I'd love to hear some of those things that maybe other people can implement in their companies and whatnot.

Justin, I'm throwing you ... Oh, wait, Maureen.

Justin Ray: I'll go.

Maureen Greaves: [inaudible 00:19:25] Justin. Go ahead.

Justin Ray: All right, well, first of all, someone's got to come and take away my gay card because I have not seen the Barbie movie, but ... I know. I will put it on my list.

I am a proud member of our DE&I council at Tremco WTI. They are a fantastic group of people who have a great mission. We assert a lot of various policy changes to people in power, if you will. I think instead of kind of tiptoeing around issues, being, as we've all been talking about, probably a more conservative area to work in sometimes, that you have to, instead of throwing a pebble in the pond, you just throw the boulder because we're here, we're not going anywhere. We are a diverse workforce, and we want our company to recognize that. And I do think Tremco and WTI are on the upswing on the right side of things and will be pretty receptive. The DE&I council is a wonderful tool that we have, and I'm really proud of it.

Megan Ellsworth: Amazing. Maureen, or Sarah, or Joshua, whoever, what are some policies, practices that have helped you feel included in your companies?

Joshua Adams: I don't know about policies or practices, but I know the big ... I think a great thing for the community are seeing the huge leaders like Owens Corning being pride forward in posting. And all the companies that have jumped onto that has been pretty crazy, if you think about where that was, like Maureen was saying, 10 years ago. That's just a big piece because that's a risk to everyone who does that. And I think it's just moving.

If you think about it from a social construct point of view, people are challenged by things that make them feel threatened outside of their environment or their group because that's a need that everyone has to feel safe. It's an evolutionary need to want to have a closeness with a group of people. So, I think oftentimes fear comes from displacement from that, whether that's straight to gay, ally to whatever the context of that is. Anything that can widen that social construct and try to provide stability to say, "Hey, if two circles overlap, that's okay, and we support X." Right? Just from a visibility standpoint, it allows people to take a breath and release your shoulders for a second and be, "Okay, this feels great." I think that's something important to highlight.

Sarah Lechowich: And from a business-owner perspective, it's just imbued in our core values. Everything that my company does stems from the core values. So, if you start with that, all are seen, valued, and heard, every voice matters ... It's not just the gay voice, but every voice regardless of political affiliation, where you were born, where your birth certificate is from, all of that stuff, you are a valued, authentic human being and you're going to be treated that way. Everything then comes from that, every decision. And I think that's just where we go.

Joshua Adams: Beautifully said.

Megan Ellsworth: Agreed.

Maureen Greaves: Great job, Sarah.

Diversity drives innovation, right? It drives growth, it drives collaboration. From my point of view, diversity is necessary for you to continue to be successful in the space, wherever you operate. Knowing that you have a DE&I committee, making sure that you don't just have that committee, that it's not propped up just to say, "Yeah, we checked that box," but making sure your policies line up with that, that what you represent internally matters. What you show on your website, how you're recruiting, the things that you're doing to recruit, those are critical in order to drive and draw diversity to your company.

I've been on this panel a couple of times now, and so appreciative, but Heidi and I have had a lot of conversations about the reason I show up is so that other people can feel comfortable and feel like they belong here. I want to send that message that, "Hey, let's see you. I want to see you. I want to hear you."

So, Joshua, Justin, I'm so happy that you're here representing your community and your side because the first panel we had was all women. We feel pretty comfortable in this space already. But I know that we have 900 technicians in the field. About, I don't know, 99% of them are male. So, somebody out there at WTI or whoever it is may be like, "Gosh, I wonder, do I belong here? Is this a place for me?" And that's what I hope people get out of this, is that yes, this is a place where you can belong and feel safe and bring your value and your talent to the team.

Joshua Adams: Hey, Maureen, just because I don't know, so I'm sure other people in the chat ... What is the DEI committee? What does that mean?

Maureen Greaves: Diversity, equity and inclusion committee.

Joshua Adams: Gotcha. Okay.

Maureen Greaves: They're focused [inaudible 00:25:07]-

Megan Ellsworth: Love.

Maureen Greaves: Right. Just a representation, a policy influence. Justin, you're on the committee. I can't speak to it.

Justin Ray: Yeah, no. Maureen, that was great.

Megan Ellsworth: Also, National Women in Roofing has a DEI committee that I'm a part of, and t's really fun, all sorts of people.

Maureen, and you all, you guided the next question in perfectly, which is why is it important to have visible LGBTQ role models in the roofing industry? I think you kind of already touched on it, but Joshua or Justin, why do you think it's important to have people that look like you?

Joshua Adams: Like what Maureen talked about, that diversity fosters innovation, I think that's such a beautiful way to put that because I think the wider conversation, how any small, marginalized group can have more, to be more seen, is feeling like at any level of involvement you can also be part of that larger group. Not just relying heavily on gay, straight, bi, et cetera, but just allowing the idea of a non-large group can have a voice to do X, I think people will feel more comfortable with that versus saying just gay or straight issues. Just touching on what Maureen said as far as diversity, bringing in that diverse workforce, that is what the real world looks like, so people should talk and represent that. It will bring forth the natural kind of evolution of what the workplace can and should be, right? I think that's the bigger conversation.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. I'd love to read a comment really quick. It's from Lorna, Lorna Rojas. Hello, Lorna, sweet Lorna.

Maureen Greaves: Love, Lorna.

Megan Ellsworth: We love Lorna. She said, "I shared this on LinkedIn." It's in Spanish, but she translated it for us. I wish I spoke Spanish, but I don't. It says, "Gay pride was not born from a need to celebrate being gay but from the right to exist without being an object of persecution. Instead of wondering why there isn't a straight pride movement, be grateful that you don't [inaudible 00:27:30]." That kind of brings tears to my eyes. That's beautiful. Thank you for sharing, Lorna.

Maureen Greaves: Lorna, thanks for sharing that.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes, yes.

Joshua Adams: I think [inaudible 00:27:39] of people I know are never in people's face either. It's more just a, "Hey, let everyone live," right? It's not needing any crazy recognition, at least, I guess, in the people that I know and am familiar with. It's mostly just wanting to feel included in the conversation at all. And not in [inaudible 00:27:58] way.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Exactly. We also have another comment from Carol Weyman from Jobba. Hi, Carol. "Anytime anyone feels more comfortable, more seen, more included, they can focus on making sure they can contribute at the highest level. It's a win-win."

Joshua Adams: Wow. That's an excellent comment.

Maureen Greaves: Yes, yes. If you're worried about whether you're going to be protected or whether you're going to have access to opportunities or whether you're going to have access to benefits, that's what you're worried about. You're not spending your time and your talent on things that really matter to make something better in the workplace. You're worried about things that are going to affect your person and your family. Taking those barriers away allows someone to really thrive and then bring their best self.

When you started talking about this [inaudible 00:28:48] it's near and dear to my heart. I like to talk about it a lot. But yeah, it makes a difference because words matter. Seeing it on paper, that makes a difference. And you say, "Yes, I can go join that company and feel really good about where I'm going."

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Kind of going off of that, our next question is how can we encourage more LGBTQ+ individuals to pursue careers in roofing? And I think Sarah is really leading the charge on that one. The fact that you're sponsoring the gay rodeo, you're driving your motorcycle in the Pride Parade with your True North sign. I think people seeing that are going to say, "Hey, wow, I need a job. And I've never thought about roofing, but she seems really cool. I'm queer and I want to be in the trades, but it's kind of scary to be in the trades." So, I think that's really cool.

Are there any ideas you all have on recruiting more people from the queer community into roofing?

Joshua Adams: Sarah does it in a super authentic way, which is not even [inaudible 00:29:54].

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Joshua Adams: It just feels super authentic, which I love because I think anytime you can bring that level of authentic, it just disarms people and it makes everyone feel comfortable, which I think is such a big deal. To be interested in you and then doing it your way, I think it's great, Sarah.

Sarah Lechowich: Well, thank you. I like to joke that we're the gayest company out there. But yes. I'm in my forties. I'm super comfortable in my skin. If somebody doesn't like me, I don't care. You go on. People have asked me, like, "Were you nervous about promoting a woman-owned company or a gay-owned company?"

I'm like, "No, because the people I want to work with will work with me. The people I don't want to work with won't call me." It's a self-select in self-select out. We're happy.

And it's like a program of attraction. I advertise, but people just come to me. The crews come to me, the workers come to me. I just trust the universe will provide everything, and it does. We're very successful, and we just try to have a great company culture and just be our authentic selves. A lot of neurodivergency over here, and we just embrace that. Some celebrate pride, some don't. And that's great. We all get along and do our best to shine and be ourselves.

Joshua Adams: [inaudible 00:31:22].

Sarah Lechowich: [inaudible 00:31:22] how to be anything else.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, love. Okay, we have a question from Lorna in the chat.

Joshua Adams: Lorna.

Megan Ellsworth: Yay. Oh, someone said, "Yes, Joshua. Lol. We love a neurodivergent queen."

Joshua Adams: Yes, we do.

Megan Ellsworth: "What is something new or any changes that you would like to see in company's policy from an HR perspective, maybe regarding the queer community?"

I know, Sarah, Joshua, you're company owners. Maureen, Justin, maybe something you would like to see other companies initiate.

Joshua Adams: What was the question again, Megan?

Megan Ellsworth: "What is something new or any changes that you would like to see in company's HR policies?"
This is a tough one. Lorna, you stumped us.
Justin, do you have any thoughts, or Joshua?

Joshua Adams: Can we phone a friend to Justin?

Maureen Greaves: Come on, Justin. You're in legal. Let's go.

Joshua Adams: I'm going to immediately phone a friend to Justin on this one.

Justin Ray: All right. Well, one thing is in the great state of Ohio, there are state and federal protections for workers, and not all the time does that include sexual orientation. Well, actually, in our law [inaudible 00:32:36] so companies can absolutely add that to their employee handbook and add that protection for workers against discrimination. I don't know off the top of my head if our company does, but that would be something that this conversation just brought to my attention and thinking about that. That is what the DE&I council does. I have made a note and I will bring that up at our next meeting to be sure to research that.

Megan Ellsworth: That's great. Any business owners out there watching this that want to build a more inclusive environment but don't know where to start, that could definitely be a stepping stone, letting your employees know that, "Hey, we're not going to fire you because you're gay or whatever," or because X, Y and Z. That could definitely be a stepping stone.

Justin Ray: [inaudible 00:33:31] to Maureen's earlier point that if that's not the forefront of your thinking every day, you're not showing up to work going, "Oh, gosh, can I be myself? Can I be my authentic true self?" Then you're going to perform better because you're there to do your job and contribute your talents. And so, yeah, I think it would be really important to take a look at.

Maureen Greaves: That Monday morning dread, right? When you first started coming out or maybe testing the water is that weekend question, "What'd you do this weekend?"

"Oh, nothing." Or, "Oh, we," right? "We did some things." Not the true conversation about, "Oh, my wife and I went and did this," or, "My boyfriend and I did this," or, "My husband did that."

Those are big things, right, to walk in on a Monday morning. A lot of us work from home now, but walk into a team's meeting on a Monday morning and say what did you actually do this weekend, and be honest.

Joshua Adams: Yeah. No one's yes queening down the halls. People just want to be one of the homies. You know what I mean?

Maureen Greaves: Maybe Justin is [inaudible 00:34:39].

Joshua Adams: [inaudible 00:34:39].

Justin Ray: Maybe.

Megan Ellsworth: Maybe a little. Just a little.

Justin Ray: I do beech.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, I do beech. You get it.

Sarah Lechowich: Well, some of us on this panel grew up playing the pronoun game, like where we could never be our authentic self. We were always hiding a huge part of who we are. And it's so nice now that I'm the boss and things have changed and our country has been more accepting. It's so nice to just be, exhale, here I am. Right? I think that that's so important. It's just been lovely to witness.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. We have some fabulous comments. "We need more yas queening down the halls. Can we please yas queen down the halls?"

Joshua Adams: And you have my permission, we can beech and yas queen, yes.

Sarah Lechowich: [inaudible 00:35:31] yas queen Thursdays.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes.

Joshua Adams: [inaudible 00:35:34] love it.

Megan Ellsworth: Elise said, "I'd love to see more equitable parental leave policies, too." I completely agree. And also just over the board, more time to spend with your new child that you have. That's crazy. And making sure that both parents have time to bond with that child.

We also have another question. "How do companies deal with different state laws?"

Maybe this is a question for you, Justin, or any company owners out there, Joshua, Sarah, that ... I'm assuming state laws is what you referenced in Ohio, that that's not required, the sexual orientation law isn't required for companies.

Justin Ray: Right. Again, that would really depend on the state you're in, which is something ... We just hired a labor and employment council not too long ago to address our state concerns because, again, we're nationwide. It truly depends on the state that you're in, unfortunately, as we know, with different passages of different laws, whether that be Florida, Ohio, Texas, concerning reproductive rights or anything along those lines. It's a state analysis question.

Sarah Lechowich: Well, and as an owner, I mean, the state law is the bare minimum. Right?

Justin Ray: Right.

Sarah Lechowich: You can do better than that. And then also when you're ... We have medical benefits. One of the questions that we ask when we're surveying providers is like, "Do you cover the abortions? Do you cover transition care? Do you cover this?" Thinking about what are some needs that we want to make sure are imbued in all of those things so I don't have an employee struggling with top surgery. It should be covered. Whatever medical I get, it should be in there.

Megan Ellsworth: Oh, that's so true. I applaud you for especially asking about transition care for transgender individuals. That is something that is, not to get political, but being stripped away in a lot of places and can be really scary for a lot of people. And so I think having an employer that thinks about that and is putting their employees first in that realm is really amazing. That's awesome, Sarah.

We have another question. The questions keep coming in. It's from Lily, Lily Smith. Hi, friend. I love her. "Sometimes with what we see in the news, I feel like we are almost moving backwards in terms of inclusion. Do you all feel like love and inclusion can overcome the current political landscape?"

Maureen Greaves: I don't necessarily know if love can conquer 500 ... Right now there's 500+ laws or legislations in various states across the country that are directly against continuing to provide and extend rights to the LGBTQ+ community, 500 across the country. So, I would say a little more than love is needed at this point. It's voices telling stories. That's why this panel matters. Being able to tell your story and have others hear your story, to understand what we're trying to do. To your point, Joshua, we're not all running down the hallways, "Yes, queen." We want equal access to opportunities, to benefits, to protections. That's it. It's not really that hard.

Joshua Adams: It's a tough time in general for a lot of different viewpoints to get down with just the state of where things have been in a heavy state the last four or five years. But I think what we all have to remember is these things are cyclical. Every time you have advancements in a specific zone, you're going to have that pushback, which is what we're seeing. Then the norm comes up on the ebb and flow, and there's less backlash. Then that starts to become the norm again. Any time that I look at any topic outside of this, whether it be financial, et cetera, insurance claims, whatever it is, things are cyclical. Usually there's a balance, there's a push and pull reaction. So, I think we just have to all stay focused on that and say that backlash will probably mean forward progress. That's a good thing to remember if you get down.

Megan Ellsworth: That's really true. So well said, Joshua. I think that really dives into our next question, which is are there any community initiatives or partnerships that you have been a part of that have made a positive impact, whether that's in, like, your local community, just your company or on a national scale? I do have a slide that I'll share in a moment that has organizations that do some really great things for LGBTQ individuals, transgender individuals nationwide. But I'd love to hear from Sarah. What are some community initiatives that you're a part of, if any?

Sarah Lechowich: Where I put my time and my funds is those environments where people can feel seen, valued, and heard, and where they're traditionally not accepted. I donate heavily towards hockey for queer and LGBT or whatever acronym. A lot of transgender folks or gender nonbinary don't fit into the hockey world. There's a league here in Minnesota that has created that space. I promote and sponsor that. The local softball, the gay rodeo, women's sports in general. Just a lot of sports because we need to have safe spaces. That's where I put a lot of my time and effort. And there's lots and lots of places to put, but I think that fits my value and something that I hold near and dear, sports and motorcycles. So gay.

Joshua Adams: That's effective, though. I love that. That's the reason why I appreciate your authenticness, because that's such a unique, cool answer. I love that. Sports are a great place. I was a two-sport athlete, tried to be three. And yeah, you're absolutely right. I wasn't great at anything. But no, I think that makes a lot of sense. I love that.

Sarah Lechowich: I wasn't always a sports person. I was a book and art nerd until my thirties. Then, again, finding my true self, I found sports and I found community. I just think it's the most amazing thing. Any time we can promote community and a sense of belonging, that's like a basic Maslow's pyramid thing, like [inaudible 00:42:33]-

Joshua Adams: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. You got it, yeah.

Sarah Lechowich: I haven't come over to the pickleball, though. I'm not a big fan.

Joshua Adams: It's fun. You should play it.

Megan Ellsworth: It's so big right now.

Sarah Lechowich: Hockey.

Megan Ellsworth: Justin, Maureen, Joshua, are there any community initiatives that you all are a part of locally or nationally?

Justin Ray: I'm a part of the [inaudible 00:42:54] here in Cleveland. Well, I don't know that I'd say I'm very athletic. It was bocce ball. But taking part of this [inaudible 00:43:03] Park, which is a big, beautiful park right here on Lake Erie, with our signs and our pride flags. There were just hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people there. I think visibility is just really, really, really important. And the more visible we are as a people, as a community, then I think acceptance follows.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Joshua, Maureen, do you all have any thoughts on how to initiate change? Anything you all are involved in locally?

Maureen Greaves: We have a group here that helps develop LGBTQ business owners. We go to some of those events and try to support those events as well. But I think really I'm excited because my kids are getting older, 18 and 16, and some of those things that we used to do when we were a little bit younger, before we had the crazy schedules that we had, we would definitely get more involved in our community. I'm looking forward to that, getting back into the Cleveland Pride Center and doing some things like that. We took a little hiatus, but we will be back in full force soon.

Megan Ellsworth: Going to be a free bird soon.

Maureen Greaves: Soon.

Megan Ellsworth: Joshua, are there any initiatives that you're a part of or that you would like to be a part of locally or internationally?

Joshua Adams: Yeah. I've supported tons of stuff over the years, whether it's with time or money. I mean, The Trevor Project always, obviously, is super important. But yeah, nothing that others haven't said. I think everyone's done an awesome job on covering a bunch of interesting, cool ways. There's tons of resources out there. If anyone's curious, what Megan's provided here have all the major highlights.

Megan Ellsworth: On the screen, you all can see this is just a list of organizations that work within the LGBTQ+ community to help young people, old people, workplace people and all sorts of things. I personally give to the Human Rights Campaign every month. I think it's really important. You've probably seen them outside your local Trader Joe's. The Trevor Project is really important, especially with a lot of the legislation that's going on right now around transgender healthcare. The Trevor Project has lobbyists and is working in the ... not in the government, but on Capitol Hill to try to keep young LGBTQ people safe. And I think that's really important. There's lots of things.

I would also like to say that, kind of going off of what Lorna said in her beautiful comment, is Pride was started by a transgender woman in New York and by throwing a brick. It started out of protest and now it is peaceful, beautiful parades full of all sorts of colored people. Every type of person you can find is at a pride parade. I think that's really beautiful and something that we bring to [inaudible 00:46:30] industry, is this beautiful, you know, not to be [inaudible 00:46:34] rainbow of colors that we bring to the roofing industry. That's really important to remember. I just want to thank you all for sharing your stories.

Someone in the chat mentioned that it is the ... Let's see if I remember the year. It's the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando today. I can't believe it was today, and we're having this, and I didn't realize. And that's just crazy. So, I would like to have a moment of silence for the 49 lives that were lost at that shooting. We'll just have one minute of silence. Then we'll continue the conversation. We'll start now with the moment of silence.

All right. Thank you all for indulging in that with me.

I think it's really important to remember where we've come from and what left we have to do. And this is, like everyone has said, one of the stops on the way. To finish out, round out the conversation, I'd love to hear some of our panelists hopes for the future of diversity and inclusion in the roofing industry. What are some of your hopes and dreams for being queer in roofing? I'll start with Sarah.

Sarah Lechowich: Glitter shingles.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes.

Sarah Lechowich: No. I think it's really important for folks to create ... We have all these different states. And I'm lucky to be in Minnesota. We're a very gay-friendly state. The Twin Cities is very open, and it's a very inclusive environment for me to feel safe to have my company and run it the way I do. But for folks to continue to create these little pockets, these little oases, oases, oasis? I don't know. I need more coffee. But these places where people can feel drawn to and feel safe. I feel like it just grows, right? Like the pebble in the water or the boulder, and then that just spreads out. Just individuals making their butterfly changes and seeing that grow, that's my hope. More butterflies and glitter.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes. Yes. Maureen, I'm just going to hop down to you. What are some of your hopes for the roofing industry when it comes to being queer and having more inclusion?

Maureen Greaves: Well, I just hope that this spreads, right? I hope that this feeling spreads. If there's two or three people today that get up onto a roof and have a conversation about this event, then that's a huge win for me. Little by little, making change and keeping things moving forward, that's all.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. Justin?

Justin Ray: Just to piggyback off of what everyone said thus far, but the ability to just show up, be yourself and have zero fear that you're going to be repercussed against because of it.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. Joshua?

Joshua Adams: I think just reducing hate in general towards things people don't understand, that can save a lot, just that one clip. It's just if you don't understand something, you don't need to immediately be oppositional. And I think just starting from that frame of mind, that silence is also a contribution sometimes.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. We also just had a question from Sweet Jennifer Stone. Hi, Jen. "Can you share one takeaway that has made a difference from an allyship perspective or one thing allies can do to make a true impact?"

Maureen Greaves: I got one.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes.

Maureen Greaves: There's someone that I work with. They sent out a communication, I think it was yesterday, about, "Hey, don't forget, we got Roofers Coffee Shop conversation." And I got a message from the VP of logistics, so I'll give Ralph a big shout-out.

Megan Ellsworth: Ralph.

Maureen Greaves: He [inaudible 00:51:22] email. It was totally out of the blue. He was like, "Hey, I'm not going to be able to make it, but I'm right there with you." And he had his LGBTQ band on. And I'm like, wow, that's pretty awesome. Little things like that make a big difference.

Sarah Lechowich: Yeah, I agree with Maureen. I know they're not a sponsor of this, but the Owens Corning, on their LinkedIn and social media, they have a pride avatar. And those are [inaudible 00:51:47] small things.

Joshua Adams: Exactly.

Sarah Lechowich: I mean, that's not a huge ... They didn't donate thousands of dollars towards a pride ... They just showed representation. We see you, we're celebrating with you. It's all you need. You don't have to do big things.

Joshua Adams: Exactly. And they took the time to really make that five-slide post that goes through our history. No one has to do any of that, and that's great. I mean, regardless for anyone, I support tons of ... Anyone that's marginalized, if you don't have a nurturing heart to feel like you need to reach out a hand, that's just kind of my natural setting, so I don't understand it. But I think that's just a good general practice to be just a good human. Right?

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. Justin, anything to add on this one? Allies.

Justin Ray: My fellow panelists have hit the nail on the head, so.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. Okay, so, last question before we are done here. How can we continue to celebrate Pride outside of Pride Month? I know we talked about OC a little bit. What are some suggestions or things that you want to do to celebrate pride outside of Pride Month? And maybe I'll start with Joshua?

Joshua Adams: Yeah, I'm not sure on that. I'm not sure. I'll again, phone a friend to Justin, I think, for that one.

Justin Ray: Sure. I know that all the colors of the pride flag have some meaning and representation to them. If you were to quiz me right now, I would fail miserably. But I think happiness and joy and how you live your life, these are things that we all feel during this month, but to carry that on throughout the year is infectious. If you are a queer person who has an infectious personality and is constantly happy, it's going to spread. And I think that also leads to acceptance. That's how I would celebrate Pride all year.

Joshua Adams: Well said, Justin.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Joshua Adams: I'm glad you're my phone a friend.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Wow, that was great. Maureen, how are you going to celebrate Pride outside of Pride Month?

Maureen Greaves: Well, I'm just going to stand outside and wait for Sarah to come pick me up in her motorcycle and [inaudible 00:54:08]-

Joshua Adams: She's promised rides. She's promised rides to everybody.

Sarah Lechowich: But will you wear glitter?

Maureen Greaves: No, I'm not a glitter gal. But maybe for you, I will. If it's what it takes to get on the back of a motorcycle [inaudible 00:54:20] I will do that.

Justin Ray: I've got enough glitter for everyone.

Joshua Adams: Maureen said she did want to borrow that rainbow wig, though.

Maureen Greaves: I did? Did I? Did I say that?

Sarah Lechowich: I have a few.

Joshua Adams: Maybe not aloud, but I could sense it.

Sarah Lechowich: You would look smashing.

Joshua Adams: You would, yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: Smashing.

Sarah Lechowich: I think celebrating Pride is you just imbue it into everything you do, just like you imbue anti-racism and you imbue ... All of the things, it's everything that you do, all of your core values, all of your policies, all of your procedures. Every decision you make comes from that place of inclusion and belonging and welcoming, and then you are celebrating all the time.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely.

Joshua Adams: And another good thing I think that I wanted to say really quick is whatever support is that you feel authentic about in whatever way, you know your intention, so do exactly what you believe to be contributing. That's different for everyone. That doesn't mean that everything could use more glitter, obviously, as you say, Sarah. But yeah, it doesn't need to be some in-your-face thing. It depends on who you know, what your environment is. It's just like Justin said, shining through and just being your authentic self. We keep saying authentic today, but that's kind of the name of the game. But do it how you feel feels good to you. It doesn't need to be this specific ideal of what supporting someone means. Just do it from the heart and reach out to people. That's super important, I think.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. I can't thank you all enough for being my wonderful panelists for this year's Pride Coffee Conversations. I am feeling extremely proud to not only be a part of the queer community, but be a part of the roofing industry and be friends with you all. This is amazing.

One last thought on being an ally from Lily Smith. She says, "As an ally, don't only pay attention to LGBTQ+ issues during the month of June. Keep paying attention year round." I think that's a great note to end on. Just a reminder, all these organizations on the screen are amazing. They're doing amazing things. And year round, baby, let's do this.

I would just like to end it on thanking our sponsor again, WTI, Tremco. Maureen, Justin, thank you for being here. Ralph, thank you for supporting. This has been absolutely wonderful. Our next Coffee Conversation is with ABC Supply. We're going to be talking about homes for our troops, and it's going to be absolutely amazing. There will be more information coming on that one shortly.

Thank you all again. This has been absolutely amazing. Everyone in the chat, thank you for speaking out. This is awesome. And we will see you next time on Coffee Conversations.

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