Whitney Mugford, Director of Human Resources

March brings with it a significant celebration within the construction industry: Women in Construction Week (WIC Week). Since its inception in 1998, this annual event has grown into a pivotal platform, amplifying the voices and contributions of women within the construction sector. At JM Electrical, we proudly stand with our female colleagues, recognizing the invaluable role women play in shaping the present and future of our industry. This year, WIC Week resonates with the theme ‘Keys to the Future’, illuminating the strength, knowledge, and indomitable spirit of women in construction. We resonate deeply with this theme, as it aligns seamlessly with our core values of safety, quality, relationships, accountability, and communication. Women are essential in shaping a future where diversity and empowerment thrive in construction.

As the Director of Human Resources at JM Electrical, I have experienced firsthand the transformative power of diversity in our workforce. Navigating the terrain of Human Resources in the construction industry as a woman, I feel empowered and vital. My presence brings a unique perspective and fosters inclusivity in what has traditionally been a male-dominated domain. However, the under-representation of women in the industry remains a stark reality. There is an imperative need for change to level the playing field. Competitive benefits, equitable treatment, and a supportive environment are not just perks but essential pillars for attracting and retaining women in construction. JM Electrical advocates strongly for equity, from the corporate office to the job site. The firm’s leadership is committed to fostering a culture of respect and mentorship, where women are empowered to ascend the ranks with confidence and dignity. Discrimination in any form is not tolerated, as we strive to create a level playing field where talent and merit speak louder than gender. 

In honor of Women in Construction Week, I sat down with Savannah to discuss her journey, starting as CW in our warehouse to thriving as an apprentice in the field. Women in Construction Week holds special significance for us as we celebrate the invaluable contributions of women like Savannah who shape our industry’s landscape.

Whitney: Can you share your experience working in the electrical contracting field and how you got started at JM Electrical?

Savannah: I have had an amazing experience working in the electrical field and am privileged enough to have worked my entire career with JM Electrical. I began my journey as a construction wireman 1 in the prefab shop. I had no prior experience in the construction industry and did not attend trade school either. That being said, I am grateful for the opportunity that JM Electrical gave me.

Whitney: What are some of the unique challenges you’ve faced as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, and how have you overcome them?

Savannah: One strategy I’ve adopted is carrying a well-equipped bag with me daily. Inside, I keep items like hair ties, deodorant, gum, spare clothing, pain relievers, throat lozenges, heating pads, and other necessities that I would not be able to ask my male coworkers for. The guys don’t ask me what is in my bag, but they know I have everything.

Whitney: What do you find most rewarding about your work at JM Electrical?

Savannah: I love learning about HVAC and low-voltage controls. It’s a unique niche that not many people have experience in. I’ve had other journeyman electricians ask me about controls because they have little to no experience.

Whitney: What advice would you give to other women who are considering a career in the electrical field or construction industry?

Savannah: My advice to other women wanting to start a career in construction is to go for it. I love what I do. I have a better understanding of this trade every day and have so much respect for men and women who have put so many years in. I am never bored. I always have something to do, and every day is different. I like meeting new people on-site and learning about different topics. I would say that get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You never know what conditions you’re going to be working in, which makes it fun, most of the time. Overall, I am so happy and grateful to be able to do what I love every day.

Education and networking are crucial for empowerment. We collaborate with and connect women with organizations such as the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), providing avenues for mentorship, networking, and advocacy. Our collaboration with esteemed organizations like the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and IBEW Local 103 underscores our unwavering commitment to promoting equity and diversity within the industry. Women in construction are not confined to wielding hammers or pulling wires on job sites. They are leaders, innovators, and visionaries across all functional areas of the industry. At JM Electrical, we celebrate the myriad contributions of women in business development, project management, finance, and beyond. Their voices resonate powerfully, paving the way for future generations of trailblazers.

As we commemorate Women in Construction Week, we extend our gratitude to the talented, passionate, and hardworking women within our organization. Your dedication drives our success, and we stand beside you as allies, advocates, and champions of diversity and inclusion. As WIC Week unfolds, we look forward to a future where barriers are broken, stereotypes are challenged, and inclusivity thrives. At JM Electrical, we remain steadfast in our commitment to empowering women in construction and forging a path towards a brighter tomorrow.