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How Manufacturers Can Boost Their D&I Efforts

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The manufacturing leaders who met in Washington, D.C., this month agreed wholeheartedly: D&I is integral to building and retaining the workforce of tomorrow.

At the third-annual Diversity+Inclusion Summit convened by the Manufacturing Institute, leaders gathered to share data, insights and lessons gleaned from their own D&I efforts. Hailing from many different industry sectors and companies of all sizes, the panelists and attendees laid out concrete actions that can transform companies’ D&I objectives.

Why it matters: With 2.1 million jobs expected to go unfilled in the industry by 2030, manufacturers need to find new populations of potential employees. Recruiting more women, racial and ethnic minorities and neurodiverse workers can expand companies’ talent pools and strengthen their workforces.

  • In fact, increasing the current female workforce from 29% to 35% would fill the industry’s 746,000 open jobs all on its own, according to a recent study by the MI and Colonial Life.
  • That’s why the MI is working to meet this target through its 35 x 30 Campaign—i.e., increasing the percentage of women in manufacturing to 35% by 2030.

How to do it: The summit offered important tips to help companies boost their D&I efforts, including:

  • Get buy-in from company leaders: Research shows that D&I efforts lead to greater productivity, increased innovation and higher revenue—not to mention the recruitment and retention benefits. Once companies set D&I goals, leaders should incorporate D&I objectives into their annual goals to create opportunities for accountability.
  • Use employee resource groups in a structured way: Companies should set up organizational structures for their ERGs that will ensure longevity and encourage fresh thinking, as well as align with companies’ overall D&I goals. These groups should have their own budgets and rotating leadership positions. When possible, the contributions of ERG leaders should be included in their incentive programs or annual goals.
  • Educate your first-line supervisors about D&I: By training first-line supervisors on the latest in D&I and company-specific objectives, companies can help them both support their teams better and collect feedback to inform the overall effort.
  • Offer child care and flexibility: In the post-pandemic environment, companies are still exploring what works best for them, but one thing is clear: to recruit and retain talent in a tight labor market, companies need to provide employees with options. (Check out our recent webinar on the same subject.)

Learn more: Interested in joining the conversation? Check out the MI’s D&I tools and resources, and register for upcoming events, including our upcoming Virtual Diversity+Inclusion Summit on Dec. 16, here. The virtual summit will include some recorded sessions from this event as well.

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