Report: Manufacturing leaders push to recruit and retain women

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Dive Brief:

  • Roughly 70% of women would remain in manufacturing if starting in the industry today, citing interesting tasks, healthy salaries and a good work-life balance as desirable features to remain, Modern Materials Handling reported Wednesday. 
  • The figures come from a recent joint study by the Manufacturing Institute, Deloitte and APICS on ways to recruit and retain women in the industry. The report surveyed 600 professionals and interviewed 20 executives.
  • Retention of female employees increases when both formal and informal mentorship programs, and flexible work practices are made available, as well as through increased visibility and interaction with leading role models.

​Dive Insight:

Women in manufacturing are a pivotal piece of the manufacturing workforce, and with a coming worker shortage currently estimated to grow to two million in the next seven years, actions to recruit and retain more women are sure to pay off.

As the industry faces a worker shortage, it must adapt to look for talent in workers or populaces that may have previously gone underappreciated. Tactics like sponsoring high school job fairs geared toward girls, or partnering with local colleges to establish vocational programs for specialized skills, or even asking secondary schools to look out for STEM talent could go a long way in future hiring efforts. 

Short-term initiatives abound too, and mentoring appears to be one of the most effective ways of motivating and promoting current workers. While someone of either gender can mentor younger professionals, female mentors have particular advice for women in the field, including taking risks, gaining a variety of experience, and standing up to challenges, even when it’s particularly difficult. Perhaps the most inspiring advice is in challenging the status quo and driving forward regardless. 

Yet, to really welcome women into the field, the challenges in question as well as the status quo should be reconsidered carefully. If an unwelcoming or skeptical attitude on the part of established staff prevails, it will be more difficult to recruit, let alone retain new workers. Including diversity as a company goal may help further unlock innovative perspectives and subsequent growth.

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