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Celebrating Success, Achievement, and Potential of Women in Manufacturing

A leadership view of overcoming the talent crisis and filling the skills gap


Building upon the women in manufacturing research previously published by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, senior executives representing automotive, aerospace and defense, process, and diversified manufacturing convened at an executive roundtable to discuss how manufacturers can best attract, retain and advance talented women in the manufacturing industry. They explored related challenges manufacturers face and made recommendations to address the challenges.

During the roundtable, executives discussed the significant concerns they all have about finding enough talent to drive their organizations in the future and how vitally important women can be to helping address that concern. They focused on the C-suite’s role in changing the corporate culture in the manufacturing industry, the American public’s perception of the industry, and what companies can do to create a strong employer brand.

As described in the following report, the executives responded to key questions:

  • How can manufacturers improve the recruiting process of women and how far back into the “pipeline” do they need to go?
  • What initiatives can companies take to encourage the personal development and professional progression of women?
  • How can manufacturers support women in the industry and retain female workers?

Recommended strategies for tapping the untapped resource:

Executive roundtable participants made the following recommendations to help address the issue of attracting, retaining and advancing women in the manufacturing workforce.

1) Integrate women into the corporate strategy: Ensure the CEO personally makes the recruitment, retention and promotion of women a strategic imperative and leads the cultural change wanted in the company.

2) Share best practices among the company: Use your own employees across the company: different departments, sites, and offices, as a learning resource to inform, educate, mentor and share best practices with one another.

3) Don’t wait for change: Be proactive at every level of the organizations to address the issue of recruitment, retention and advancement of women. Recognize your division or department cannot always wait for change to come from the center.

4) Use affinity groups for more than networking: Make more than “contacts” — take advantage of connections to generate ideas, motivate peers, share best practices and give/receive guidance.

5) Women for women: Engage The Manufacturing Institute STEP Ahead honorees and other successful women in manufacturing as leaders and ambassadors, going into schools to talk about career opportunities and inspire potential young female candidates. Have these same leaders mentor the next generation to extend the interactions and engagement with ongoing discussions, site visits, apprenticeships and other effective outreach programs.

6) Don’t forget the men: Women can’t do this alone. Ensure the men in the organization are equally involved, committed and engaged with the efforts. If only the CEO and the women in the organization are leading and the men are on the sideline, your progress will be limited and superficial if at all. The men must be equal participants in this important, strategic talent strategy and must be involved with meaningful roles and responsibilities for making it work.

Download the full report on Celebrating success, achievement, and potential of women in manufacturing, from the top of this page.

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