Manufacturing is in a crisis.  There are more than 2 million skill workers needed in this field but few women are rushing to fill the empty jobs.  Just 29% of manufacturing’s labor force is female and only 7% are in middle-skilled jobs.  Women do want to work in manufacturing and among those who are employed more than 70% say they would stay in manufacturing if they started their careers today and 42% would encourage their daughters or female family members to work in the industry.  Research has shown how diversity and gender equality can positively affect a company’s growth and productivity.  Women in Construction Week is March 1-7, 2020 and Frontier Industrial Corporation is proud to have many women as part of our growing team. 

The manufacturing industry has responded to the labor shortage with initiative to recruit more women such as job boards and training programs stating women can find a career in manufacturing extremely fulfilling.  Research shows that effective recruitment in any industry begins with putting together a value proposition that details what matters most to your employees.  The two most important workplace factors for women are the ability to do what they do best and work/life balance.  To an employee “what they do best” is a reflection of their skills and talent.  Only one-third of workers can strongly agree that they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day. 

Talent can’t be taught but skills can.  Seasoned workers know what skills they possess and what tasks they are good at.  Manufacturing managers should seek out these workers to make sure they are working to their fullest potential.  Training will benefit all workers whether they have just recently been hired or have been employed for years.  Women are far and few between in the manufacturing industry so that it is often hard to recruit new people for the job.  On the job training or tuition reimbursement can be a key part of hiring new employees.  Education whether it is demonstrated on the floor or in an online tutorial is highly valuable in manufacturing and all employees especially women should be encouraged to get it not disciplined for lack thereof. Women can bring physical labor skills, new ideas and perspectives to the industry.  By providing networking and support your company can start to build their image as a place of employment that values diversity and inclusion.  By offering an apprenticeship, it can help recruit women by providing them on the job and hands on skills trainings. 

Women want a work-life balance and greater job flexibility.  Many workers, both women and men are willing to leave their jobs for greater job flexibility.  This is where small manufacturing companies may have an advantage over big companies.  Small companies are starting to focus on benefits and perks that can accommodate their employees’ lifestyles and be more manageable financially.  Regardless of size, companies need to be thoughtful about communicating new policies to their employees.  People who have given years of service may feel that their loyalty has been looked over and the adoption of flexibility is not a benefit to them but a bribe to women.  An idea for your company is to start a shift sharing program that allows parents to get kids to their appointments as much as it allows others to get to sports games or other activities.  By offering challenging roles and opportunities for growth will give your employees, especially women more reason to stay. 

Manufacturing has been known to have a reputation for sexism and harassment.  If women are disrespected on the job, nothing management will do in recruiting women will matter – they will not fill these positions.  To retain women in manufacturing, your company has to have inclusion and managers must make sure this is executed.  Gallup’s Three Requirements of a Diverse and Inclusive Culture – and Why They Matter for Your Organization Report says that three requirements of a diverse and inclusive culture are:

  1. Employees are treated with respect
  2. Employees are valued for their strengths
  3. Leaders do what is right

Other ways to encourage women to apply for jobs in the construction and manufacturing industry include creating inclusive job listings stating job descriptions and benefits and reaching out to potential candidates and encouraging them to apply.  Women often feel that they are not qualified and have to prove they are worthy of the position.  By having women on the hiring panel, this will make it easier for the female candidates to envision themselves at the company and ask any questions they might feel would have gone unanswered if it was only men during the interview. 

Studies find that the 50th percentile for employee engagement in the manufacturing industry database always trends below the 50th percentile in overall industries.  If manufacturing workers are less engaged, this can lead to problems financially and retaining workers in the industry.  Other research shows that female managers tend to create more engagement between their teams than male managers.  Leadership that makes women feel uncomfortable and unwelcome will reflect negatively on the manufacturing industry that is actively looking to recruit more women to the field.  Two million unfilled jobs means less productivity at work and less orders processed.  There are 74.6 million women in the US workforce.  That could be a big opportunity for the manufacturing industry.  Capitalizing on this demographic would fill the holes this industry needs to move forward in recruiting and hiring for these positions. 

Frontier Industrial Group is proud to be diverse and inclusive in their hiring process and construction teams.  We have many job opportunities available and will not turn anyone away from applying with us.  Join our team today!  If you have any questions about Frontier Industrial Group call us at 716-447-7587 or click here to apply

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