Key advantages to diverse perspectives, according to manufacturing leaders
By Canadian Manufacturing
In 2021, several manufacturers have renewed their focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives in order take advantage of the top-tier talent available outside of their traditional recruiting markets.
According to a study from CME, manufacturing faces a key labour shortage, and focusing on the shortage of women in leadership roles can help to address that labour gap.
However, that is not the only reason manufacturers when looking at why they were hiring a more diverse workforce.
Speaking to Melissa Chee, president and CEO of ventureLAB, a tech hub helping advanced manufacturers build and scale into global companies, notes that having more women and a more diverse workforce has business benefits beyond just meeting a quota.
“Diversity of thought is a real thing,” Chee said in a recent interview with Canadian Manufacturing. “Diversity of thought comes from different experiences and different backgrounds. You need different opinions. If you adhere to your skills matrix religiously, you will be relying on an outdated network.
Adds Chee: “Part of why we’ve succeeded as an organization is our reliance on merit and talent, and that comes from different backgrounds and networks.”
Speaking to executive leaders across the manufacturing industry, they seem to echo the benefits of having a more diverse workforce.
“Having more women in the workforce is a benefit in every industry,” says Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar Corporation. “If you’re actively targeting 100% of the workforce, you’ll have a better chance of securing top tier talent. Financial performance has been proven to increase through better decision-making and the ability to look at things from different angles due to different backgrounds.”
“Having diverse perspectives includes access to other markets,” says Ainishah Hemraj, head of sales at Mosaic Manufacturing. “If you have more women in manufacturing, you’ll also have access to a different network as well, whether that’s in sales or another department. You’ll be covering your blind spots and creating advantages you wouldn’t have even considered.”
When it came to the issue of securing ‘top tier talent’, manufacturing leaders seemed to echo a few key points.
“Communicate with talent where talent is,” according to Jennifer Green, Director of Competitions at Skills Ontario. “Whether that’s on outside of LinkedIn, on community websites and networks, communicate to women that your company has their back. Women are just as opportunistic for these lucrative careers, so making sure your programs are public and widely accessible is important.”
Hemraj has similar sentiments. “Broaden your job postings. Different things motivate different people. Do you have active professional development programs in place? Are your Diversity and Inclusion programs included in your job postings?”
According to a 2016 study, over 40% of engineering students are now comprised of women, which has heavy implications for manufacturing as it continues its technological transition. It seems clear that addressing the skills shortage in manufacturing will not happen without addressing the women shortage in manufacturing, as well.