The manufacturing industry is currently experiencing a shortage of women in the workforce, representing only 24 percent of the manufacturing labor force. Women are the missing element in closing the skills gap and increasing the industry’s competitiveness. In order to attract more women into this industry there are several best practices that can be implemented.
TALK One of the most significant changes manufacturers can make is to break the negative connotations associated with the industry. Sending executive and leading women to recruit next-generation workers can help break down these false perceptions. Targeting women graduates with strong STEM skills and supporting STEM education initiatives will increase the likelihood in recruiting women into the industry. Recruiters should stress to women the advantages of becoming role models as career-oriented women.
ALIGN In an organization, senior leaders and executives must be united on the priority of promoting women in the manufacturing industry. Senior leaders should communicate their company’s progress toward meeting this goal to diversify their organization. Transparency is key.
CHANGE Organizations need to break the stereotype that associates only men with leadership qualities. Implementing training to address this issue head-on is a great way for others to become aware of their own unconscious gender biases, and in turn, encourage impartial actions and decisions.
ADJUST Manufacturers that create a flexible work environment will attract more workers in general. Women and men both look for flexibility in the workplace, which can be achieved by creating a “results-driven” environment. This means rewarding workers that produce results regardless of when or where the work is being done, allowing time for employees to balance their personal needs as well. While safety is the priority and not every work environment allows for such flexibility, any effort to be adaptable is recognized and appreciated.
SPONSOR Creating sponsors within an organization helps support the promotion of women into leadership positions. A sponsor is a mentor, a coach and a vocal advocate for an individual who can assist with a person’s professional development. In order to develop professionally, women should be provided with a clear understanding of the leadership and technical skills required for specific positions. This will allow women to lay out specific goals to improve and work towards. Think about encouraging men to be sponsors, you can help break additional barriers and biases.
Women are vital to the growth and profitability of the manufacturing industry. Seventy-five percent of women agree that a career in manufacturing is interesting and rewarding. Women represent manufacturing’s largest pool of untapped talent, which makes them a critical factor in closing the skills gap. These best practices can help organizations around the nation attract more women into the industry and make your organization a leading company in the manufacturing world.
For more information, please check out our reports on women in manufacturing here.