women in manufacturing from core
managerial roles. Combating this bias
requires a cultural change. This begins
in the C-suite. For Diversity & Inclusion
(D&I) initiatives and programs to gain
traction throughout an organization,
senior leaders must be aligned on D&I
as a business priority and must visibly
lead by example.
• Address Gender Bias Head-on:
Women’s advancement in the work-
place is hindered by “conscious and
unconscious mental associations about
women, men, and leaders,” with people
associating men with more of the traits
that connote leadership. Leading organ-
izations, across industries, are address-
ing these unconscious biases through
targeted awareness training, designed
to build executive awareness of their
own biases so they can consciously ad-
just their behaviors and decision-mak-
ing processes. As one participant
described it, “Manufacturers must have
women to attract women, and must
have women in executive roles to retain
the women in their companies.”
• Create a more flexible work environ-
ment: Eighty-five percent of the female
manufacturing employees surveyed re-
ported that having the flexibility needed
to manage work and personal life
would be “extremely” or “very” impor-
tant when considering a new job. Man-
ufacturers who effectively rethink when
and where work gets done will have a
competitive edge in the talent war –
and have no doubt, this war looms.
These companies are providing sup-
port for this cultural shift by training
managers on techniques for leading
and evaluating the performance of vir-
tual teams. Research shows that when
manufacturing employers offer more
workplace flexibility, job satisfaction,
job engagement, physical health sta-
tus, mental health status, and the like-
lihood of remaining with one’s current
employer are significantly higher.
• Foster sponsorship: Interviewees ex-
pressed a belief that sponsorship is an
effective tactic to support women’s ad-
vancement into leadership positions. A
sponsor advocates for an individual
and undertakes responsibility for that
person’s development and professional
progression. In addition, a sponsor ex-
tends beyond mentoring and coaching
to being a vocal advocate, thereby en-
hancing their sponsoree’s presence in
the organization.
Women are critical to addressing the
skills gap in manufacturing as industry
leaders expect that access to a highly
skilled, flexible workforce will be the most
important factor in creating value over
Deloitte and The Manufactruring Institute’s research shows that women are adamant that
the industry must broaden its talent efforts to include K-12 outreach. “Technical skills are
critical, and gaining those technical skills is an initial hurdle that many women face,”
offered one survey participant.
To meet the industry’s long-term talent requirements, participants recommend that
companies actively support school initiatives that increase young women’s interest in
obtaining a technical education – a view consistent with prior research conducted by
Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, which found that less than half of Americans
believe that their community school systems provide exposure to the skills required to
pursue a job in manufacturing. “Unless companies commit to investing into organizations
that push science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM] to girls at the school
level – before they are ready to enter the workforce – there will be no improvement,”
observed one survey participant.
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