Women in Canadian Manufacturing

Trillium Network report delves into the gender gap in manufacturing

April 15, 2021
By Canadian Manufacturing
Presented by:
Women in Manufacturing

Report provides roadmap to address gender gap in manufacturing

WINDSOR — Within its skilled trades and senior ranks, the manufacturing industry has low representation from several groups including youth, newcomers to Canada, and women. In the summer of 2020, non-profits the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing and Build a Dream partnered to create an action plan for industry aimed at increasing representation from one of these under-represented talent pools.

Gender Diversity and Ontario Manufacturing: Lessons from Five Leading Companies, released in February 2021 online by the Trillium Network, highlights the work that five Ontario manufacturers have done to bring balance to their workplace by increasing the number of women in their plants. The report includes 10 lessons from leading manufacturers with strategies, policies, and practices to build diversity and inclusion (and support ongoing initiatives). Brendan Sweeney, the Trillium Network’s Managing Director and co-author of the report says that his organization is encouraged by the amount of interest in the report from manufacturers.

The biggest question he receives is: “How do we do this?”

Sweeney says the benefit of the report’s lessons is that many can be implemented relatively quickly and with minimal cost. “Start with one lesson as a guideline. It might be getting together with key female employees and just talking to them…they might identify barriers that exist that you never realized were an issue.”

Focusing on diversity has benefitted all of those who participated in the report. Increasing the representation of women has resulted in different benefits for each including attraction of top talent, increased job satisfaction and retention, and growth in employee-driven referrals.

The report identifies two key myths that the manufacturing industry is still grappling with. For industry, there may be an assumption that the gender-based hiring is just to fill a quota. “It’s not about quotas,” says Sweeney. “It’s about having good practices and good policies to attract talent.” For the general public, it’s highlighting that manufacturing is not just automotive; there are well-paid manufacturing careers available in a variety of industries including pharmaceutical, food, automation, and aerospace.