ISMR April 2022 - Page 48

FOCUS ON DIVERSITY

CLOSING THE SKILLS GAP close

We outline practical strategies for manufacturers to follow to diversify their workforces and the urgent skills gap .

Manufacturers are finding that gender diversity positively impacts the bottom line .”

International Women ’ s Day on 8 March 2022 , and its theme : “ Break the Bias ”, was a call to imagine a gender-equal world – and to take action to realize that vision . One of its missions is to forge women ’ s empowerment worldwide . It was also an opportunity to re-visit why manufacturing , as an industry , is still struggling to attract and retain diverse workforces .

The pandemic taught us that empathetic , reactive and agile leadership was essential to help curb the spread of the virus . Legislation brought in by female prime minister of New Zealand , Jacinda Ardern , helped to stamp out the virus across the entire country . Women leaders have reportedly handled the pandemic crisis well .
Now , more than ever , it is important to have a female point of view in the workplace and particularly in industries where women are under-represented . Women can bring diverse and fresh perspectives to male-dominated fields , creating a better platform for innovation , creativity and decision-making .
“ International Women ’ s Day , first recognised by the United Nations in 1977 , grew from early 1900s labour movements for better working conditions and women ’ s right to work . Now , as the continuing pandemic puts female roles in the labour market again in flux , attention to gender has never been more urgent . IMF research has consistently underscored the benefits of equality , including greater productivity and financial stability ,” commented the International Monetary Fund ( IMF ).
Skills and experience
“ Manufacturing workers are deeply diverse in all sorts of ways : age , gender , race and ethnicity , ability and sexual orientation — not to mention education , life experience and socioeconomic background . To be competitive , businesses must be able to connect with the skills and experiences of a wide range of communities ,” said The Manufacturing Institute ( MI ), the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers ( in the U . S .).
“ We need to close the racial inequities and the gaps that we have in our society because it is the right thing to do , but it is also the economic imperative for our sector ,” added MI Executive Director , Carolyn Lee . “ We need more people — and the workforce of the future is going to look different than the workforce of today .”
Creating an inclusive work environment that promotes fairness and equality in turn helps to engage employees . The trickle-down effects of employee engagement are well known , including improved business results , customer satisfaction and productivity — all top objectives . Yet fewer than half of manufacturers , according to the Manufacturers ’ Alliance , have a firm understanding of the returns they should expect from their investments .
According to the UN ’ s report , ‘ Policy Brief : The Impact of COVID-19 on Women ’: “ Across the globe , women earn less , save less , hold less secure jobs and are more likely to be employed in the informal sector . They have less access to social protections and make up the majority of single-parent households . Their capacity to absorb economic shocks is therefore less than that of men .”
According to 2019 figures from the UK Government , there are now just over a million women ( 1,019,400 ) in the STEM ( science , technology , engineering and mathematics ) workforce . This translates to an increase of more than 350,000 women ( 24 %) entering
48 | sheetmetalplus . com | ISMR April 2022