The manufacturing industry at large has begun to make great strides in incorporating diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) into employee programs and hiring practices — but there is still a long way to go.
Consider this statistic: women make up 50% of the total labor force, but they only comprise 29% of the manufacturing workforce. In manufacturing, DEI&B is often focused on women because the industry has been historically male dominated, but it’s important not to ignore other groups within the industry. There is still a notable lack of diversity in manufacturing when it comes to employee age, ethnicity, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, and socioeconomic status as well.
Fortunately, many manufacturers have made it a top priority to implement DEI&B initiatives to remedy this lack of diversity in manufacturing. For instance, more and more manufacturing organizations are taking the National Association of Manufacturers’ Pledge for Action by 2030 — committing to taking 50,000 tangible actions to increase equity and parity for underrepresented communities, creating 300,000 pathways to job opportunities for Black people and all people of color.
There are many genuine and impactful actions that employers can take to create DEI&B programs that help employees remain engaged, productive, and happy at work — but it’s important to remember why these initiatives are essential in the first place.
Why is DEI&B so important for manufacturers?
1. Diverse organizations attract (and retain) the best talent. In a 2021 Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute DEI study, 63% of surveyed manufacturers linked the business benefits of DEI&B to an enhanced ability to attract, retain, and develop talent. DEI&B are a large part of feeling included in the culture of a workplace, and employees who do not feel a sense of belonging may be more likely to pursue other career options. When it comes to finding and retaining the best employees possible, try thinking of it this way: diversity is attracting the widest talent pool possible — and inclusion is keeping it.
2. Higher levels of DEI&B have been proven to drive innovation and financial performance. Not only do organizations with diverse workforces experience increased productivity and operate under better general management, but they’ve even been shown to have a leg up in the industry from a financial perspective. An analysis of Fortune 500 manufacturing organizations disclosed that manufacturers that encourage diversity and actively build inclusive environments are proven to have a stronger financial performance overall. In fact, total cash flow of diverse organizations is 2.3 times higher than those of organizations with a more analogous employee composition.
3. A diversity mindset keeps leadership accountable. Manufacturing leadership plays an important role in supporting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. A culture prioritizing DEI&B starts at the highest levels of an organization, with leaders who are just as committed to supporting diversity as they are to their everyday operations. There’s no “right” way to measure an organization’s diversity efforts, but leadership can start by setting DEI&B goals to show employees that they take these initiatives seriously.
The benefits of diversity in manufacturing are simply too important to be overlooked. With less sameness comes more innovation, leading to more potential. While the manufacturing industry still has a way to go when it comes to DEI&B, every organization is capable of taking steps towards building a better, more inclusive workforce.
Learn more about how your organization can get started. View the replay of our Diversity in Manufacturing — The Importance of Building Programs with Impact webinar to hear speakers Michael C. Bush from Great Place to Work, AJ Jorgenson from The Manufacturing Institute, and Felicia Murrill from Corning Optical Communications discuss the effect of successful DEI&B initiatives in manufacturing.