While manufacturing might have started as a profession geared towards men, women are of increasing importance in this industry. But less than one-third of manufacturing employees are women, at a time when there are more jobs opening and more people in demand.
There are more jobs than there are candidates. Female workers could be the biggest and best answer to helping fill in-demand jobs while providing a strong incentive for women who aren’t interested in jobs usually “reserved” for them.
A 2017 study from The Manufacturing Institute, APICS, and Deloitte surveyed more than 600 women in manufacturing and spoke with 20 executives about the importance of women in the manufacturing industry to learn how to make the industry more attractive to women. Most of the women surveyed have a bachelor’s degree or higher, long work history, and have been in senior positions in larger companies.
Here are some of the reasons why manufacturing companies should try harder to recruit, hire and keep more women in the workplace:
Better workplace culture can help decrease turnover.
The same study found that greater gender diversity in the workplace creates a more innovative environment and one in which people feel safer, more valued, and more comfortable. Women in leadership positions especially are tied to a higher return on investment and better company valuation. Employees have said they feel like the company is more committed to inclusion, highly valued by younger workers. For publicly traded companies, or those looking for investors, women in leadership positions have been associated with a 15% increase in profitability. The presence of women in strong positions in a company is also associated with creativity, new ideas, an emphasis on strategic thinking, and faster adoption of innovative ideas. But if employees feel uncomfortable speaking up or that their ideas won’t be taken seriously, they’re more likely to look elsewhere.
Identifying gender gaps can help set in motion ways of fixing the problem.
If a company isn’t establishing and measuring progress toward goals, do those goals exist? The sooner a manufacturing company realizes it’s missing out on a deep pool of viable candidates; it can improve the language used in job ads to attract more candidates and bring in more women throughout the company. It is also wise to take real steps to show that manufacturing jobs are jobs for women, that women can excel in this environment, and that this isn’t the past manufacturing industry.
Invest in the education of women and girls to help invigorate their future.
Classes in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have been growing in popularity over the past decade because these are the future jobs. Let women and girls see themselves in these classes and these jobs and, if they have an interest, they’ll believe this is a career field open to them. If possible, host open houses and encourage people to bring their kids to see what manufacturing jobs are and can look like. Show off the equipment and machinery to pique their curiosity. If there are ways to work with local schools on either job shadowing or job share programs, encourage girls to apply for them and bring them in just as they’re starting to think about their future after high school. Open the manufacturing jobs pipeline and invest in their future so they can be part of yours.
Look for transferable skills and use them to open the door.
If a woman left the workforce for a while to serve in a caregiver capacity or for other reasons, consider the skills they have and their previous work experience. The important thing to remember is that many jobs are teachable for the right candidate with comparable work experience in another field. Women have been serving as project managers before the term existed, juggling their careers, families, and social responsibilities for whole families; they can use those life skills in your company to help keep things moving. The same is true for those who opted for military service instead of college: they are used to working in challenging conditions and working as part of a team to benefit the group instead of working in isolation.
If there are women in your company, use their stories as examples to others. Have them speak out about the good work environment and high salaries they earn in what had previously been an unorthodox field for women. Regular, set hours can be attractive for those with families or demands outside of work. Create mentorship and training programs to allow women to learn new skills or add to their existing abilities as a show of encouragement for them to pursue their interests in manufacturing.
The bottom line is that there are more jobs than there are people to fill them, and women are often overlooked and undervalued when it comes to positions in the manufacturing industry. The world is changing, and hiring practices need to step up and take notice: The best man for a job could very well be a woman.
If you’re looking for ways to encourage and attract more women to your company, contact Debbie’s Staffing. We can help you find highly skilled and qualified job candidates to meet your particular needs, people who are ready to start working right away. Call Debbie’s Staffing today, and let’s get to work!