Discipline, reliability, a team-player mindset, leadership—manufacturers are looking for all these qualities in the talent they recruit. What if companies could tap into a population not only equipped with these skills but experienced in using them in high-stakes situations?
Well, the Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education affiliate of the NAM—has good news, if you haven’t heard it already: this population exists, and it’s military talent. Transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard members, reservists and military spouses have a wealth of skills and experience that translate easily into a manufacturing context.
So how can manufacturers reach these workers and make the best use of them? The MI recently convened both military and manufacturing leaders in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for its third Workforce Solution Series event, where they answered this question and offered a range of useful advice. Here are some of the highlights.
Generally speaking: Major General Eugene J. LeBoeuf, Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command, highlighted the talents and skillsets that Army reservists can offer the manufacturing industry, including agility, a can-do attitude and a thorough grounding in engineering, logistics and mechatronics.
- With nearly 190,000 soldiers, the Army Reserve comprises much of the readiness force of the U.S. Army. Many of these reservists are underemployed or unemployed, which means they represent an opportunity for manufacturers.
- Manufacturers interested in hiring from this labor pool can partner with the Private Public Partnership Office, which connects companies with reservists at no cost.
Reaching military talent: Several panelists emphasized the importance of developing recruitment processes that encourage military talent to apply and interview for manufacturing jobs.
- “Make sure that the requirements you’re listing in your position descriptions are actually required. Do you really need someone to have a master’s degree to get the job done?” asked Rob Patton, vice president of Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corporation.
- As a recently transitioned service member, James Goppert, HR business partner at WestRock, explained some of the challenges that military talent may face when entering the workforce. “Having to explain military skills and certifications to a civilian in an interview was strange. It would have been helpful to have someone on the other side who understood my experiences.”
Open to all possibilities: Jennifer Goodman, senior manager of talent initiatives at Coca-Cola Consolidated, drew on her experiences as a military spouse. “Military spouses are 92% women and have a 22% unemployment rate. That’s a huge labor pool that’s going underemployed or unemployed.”
- While relocation is often a concern for companies, Goodman points out that it does not have to be a disadvantage. “Think of manufacturers who have locations across the country. Maybe you can start a military spouse at one location and then move them to another. Or, if they’ve proven themselves after a few years, you could transition them to remote work.”
- “The benefits don’t stop with the one military spouse you hire,” she added. “We’re a very loyal community with great word of mouth and a larger referral network.”
The last word: “Don’t underestimate the value of an event like this Solution Series can have. You can take the information, energy and passion that you get from meeting with people who have the same goal of building a stronger economy and use it to power you forward,” said Nathan Huret, economic development director for Catawba County.
Learn more: To get started—or continue—with hiring military talent, check out the extensive resources of the MI’s Heroes MAKE America initiative, which prepares prospective military workers for new and rewarding careers in manufacturing.
The Manufacturing Institute’s 10th annual STEP Ahead Awards took place in Washington, D.C., last week, honoring some of the most impressive and inspiring women in the manufacturing industry today. The Awards are part of the STEP Ahead program, which is designed to help advance women’s achievements in the fields of science, technology, engineering and production.
- The event highlighted the 2022 STEP Ahead Honorees (100 women who are leaders in manufacturing) and the 2022 STEP Ahead Emerging Leaders (30 women under 30 years old who have already had a significant impact on the industry).
The awards ceremony took place on Thursday night, with hundreds of guests in attendance at the National Building Museum and hundreds more viewing the ceremony online. The program featured:
- 2022 STEP Chair and former 3M Senior Vice President Denise Rutherford;
- 2022 STEP Vice Chair and Cornerstone Building Brands President and CEO Rose Lee;
- MI President Carolyn Lee;
- MI Vice President of Strategic Engagement and Inclusion AJ Jorgenson; and
- NAM President and CEO and MI Board Chair Jay Timmons.
Sponsors included an all-star roster of manufacturers, including Arconic Foundation, BASF Corporation, Cornerstone Building Brands, PTC, Trane Technologies, ABB, Molson Coors, Novelis, Rockwell Automation, SABIC, Sherwin-Williams and Toyota.
What they said: Carolyn Lee lauded the Honorees and spoke about the importance of closing the skills gap by bringing more women into the manufacturing industry.
- “My hope is that 10 years down the line, when we meet here for the 20th anniversary of these awards, the young women we will honor won’t have even heard of the glass ceiling, because it’ll be ancient history,” said Lee.
- “And that will be thanks to the support system, the mentorship and the sterling examples set by the women in this room and the support from our allies.”
Rutherford spoke about leaders’ opportunities to work together to make important progress.
- “Throughout my career, I’ve learned that being a great leader, as an individual or as a company, means that we don’t go it alone,” said Rutherford. “True change only happens when we work together as trusted allies, advocates and sponsors.”
Rose Lee laid out the qualities that all the Honorees showed and highlighted their shared successes.
- “The STEP Ahead Awards recognize women in science, technology, engineering and production who exemplify leadership within their companies and within their communities,” said Lee. “Tonight is their night to celebrate their accomplishments.”
Timmons praised the STEP Honorees and called on allies to continue supporting women in the manufacturing industry.
- “Your achievements, your success and your dedication are showing women what’s possible in manufacturing,” he said. “If you can see it, you know you can be it.”
35×30: Carolyn Lee and Jorgenson spoke about the 35×30 initiative—a program designed to close the skills and talent gap in manufacturing by adding half a million women workers to the industry, increasing women’s representation in manufacturing from 29% today to 35% by 2030.
- The campaign will train more than 1,000 women mentors, build new tools and resources and work with manufacturing leaders to deploy proven strategies to attract and retain female talent.
- It will also support young women throughout their education by offering best-in-class leadership development programming and creating a STEP alumnae-funded scholarship.
- “Tonight, we are done with waiting for other leaders to ‘change things,’ to make society better, more equitable,” said Jorgenson. “We are the leaders. So, tonight, we ask you to join us, to lead.”
New commitments: To help this new initiative along its way, Arconic Foundation President Ryan Kish and Ketchie CEO Courtney Silver stood up during the ceremony to pledge new financial commitments to the program.
The last word: The gala featured a stellar musical performance by award-winning singer–songwriter Rachel Platten, which left not a dry eye in the house. Inspired by the women of STEP, she surprised the audience by singing a new song she’d written for her daughters. It captures what the women leaders of today want to tell the girls who will someday be their heirs:
Girls, you were born to run. To reach the stars and chase the sun.
Girls, you’re wild and free. The wind is at your back, the world is at your feet.
Attracting and retaining a quality workforce has long been a top business challenge for manufacturers. The Parts Life Inc. family of companies is no different—but its variety of workforce strategies have led to considerable hiring success.
The Moorestown, New Jersey–based manufacturing group—which consists of engineering firm Parts Life, armament support manufacturer DeVal Lifecycle Support and electrical manufacturer LC Engineers—offers a number of inducements for new and existing workers, President and CEO Sam Thevanayagam explained. Together, they are helping the companies, and their workers, thrive.
The plan: “We create an environment where [people] can achieve their God-given potential,” Thevanayagam told us.
- After being inspired by several books—David Docusen’s “Neighborliness” and Hernando De Soto’s “The Mystery of Capital” among them—Thevanayagam sought to provide workers with a range of benefits, some of them unusual for an employer to offer.
- “In ‘Neighborliness,’ [Docusen] realized people need education, a job, health care and housing to be successful and build community,” Thevanayagam said. “So we are making sure we are offering these things to our people.”
- For example, Parts Life recently devised a financial program called Help U Buy, which helps workers buy their first homes.
Helping the whole employee: Parts Life offers its employees a variety of educational opportunities to help them advance at the company and better their lives.
- Approximately 40% of the workforce at DeVal Lifecycle Support is made of immigrants to the U.S., according to Thevanayagam.
- To help employees learn the language, the Parts Life companies offer no-cost formal English courses with a trained Teaching English as a Second Language instructor. “It’s helped them not just at work, but in being better neighbors, parents and citizens, too,” Thevanayagam
- The businesses also offer free basic financial management classes for workers.
Upskilling: Several years ago, when a nationwide shortage of trained machinists began to impede the companies’ operations, Thevanayagam devised a fix. Parts Life would “create” its own machinists.
- “As difficult as it is to find a trained machinist, it’s even harder to find teachers” for machining, Thevanayagam said. Once Parts Life found and hired a machinist instructor, the company had him begin training other employees.
- “Now he’s working with about 10 of our machinists—upskilling them, teaching them everything” they need to know, Thevanayagam said. “He’s sort of like a pitching coach, working with them on their technique and speed. That’s the model we’re using. … It really increases employee engagement and retention.”
Talent in the community: The Parts Life family of companies is also building relationships with local schools in an effort to find potential hires.
- These include partnerships with technical high schools that offer welding and machining training and partnerships with local colleges and universities to source engineering and business talent.
- “I look at [the partnerships] as building an entire ecosystem,” Thevanayagam said. “These are ways to be able to recruit and retain good people.”
Veterans: Lastly, Parts Life has had success in hiring from another pool: veterans. One of the reasons? It is willing to provide needed accommodations.
One recent veteran hire, a former U.S. Marine, had post-traumatic stress disorder and a substance-abuse problem when he was brought on board and “we were able to … get him counseling and get him a support system through veterans organizations,” Thevanayagam said.
- “We try to be veteran-ready,” said Thevanayagam, adding that veterans now account for about 3% to 5% of Parts Life companies’ workforces. “These are people who have sacrificed for our country—and I want to make sure we are an environment where they can achieve.”
The last word: “The fact that we’re able to create meaningful work for people so they have the ability to … become part of the American dream—it’s a big part of who we are,” said Thevanayagam.
Read more: As the 501(c)3 nonprofit workforce development and education affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with solutions to address the toughest workforce issues. Visit the MI’s site for workforce solutions insights and resources.
The Creators Wanted tour landed in Atlanta last week for the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference—the largest gathering of the America’s future skills workforce.
Over the course of the three-day program, the tour, an initiative of the NAM and the Manufacturing Institute, helped change attitudes and challenge misconceptions about manufacturing, opening up a new world for some of the country’s most talented rising workers.
By the numbers: The tour’s SkillsUSA stop, sponsored by Honda, Snap-on, FactoryFix and Union Pacific, helped share the story of modern manufacturing with many of the brightest career mentors and technical education students in the United States.
- 15,000 people attended the event, including many career and technical education students, educators and parents.
- More than 1,500 people took part in the Creators Wanted immersive experience at SkillsUSA.
- More than 120,000 students and career mentors signed up to learn more about modern manufacturing careers during the tour stop in Georgia.
More participants: Other leading manufacturers were also in attendance, engaging students with information about careers in manufacturing. A few of the participants included Caterpillar, John Deere/Korematsu, Volvo NA Group, Vermeer Corp., Toyota, Cummins, Penske and 3M.
A special guest: Snap-on Chairman and CEO Nick Pinchuk dedicated a full day to inspiring students and educators. The NAM executive committee member and Manufacturing Institute board member emphasized the “Creators Wanted” mantra in order to remind participants that manufacturers aren’t just recruiting workers—they’re inspiring and empowering creators.
Local coverage: The visit made waves in Georgia, where it was covered on Fox 5’s Good Day Atlanta:
- “A huge turnout down here,” said Fox 5’s Paul Milliken, who had multiple live hits at the Creators Wanted immersive experience. “These students are so talented, so incredible … the future of America’s skilled workforce.”
- “This conference—it’s just a really incredible opportunity for these future workforce leaders to come together, meet each other, network and compete.”
WATCH: @GoodDayAtlanta's @PaulFromFox5 reports on #CreatorsWanted traveling to @GWCC_ATL for @SkillsUSA #NLSC23. Check out how we are working to inspire students to consider rewarding careers in modern manufacturing. https://t.co/0GAlhxDmTb pic.twitter.com/BFJeKyXS9G
— The NAM (@ShopFloorNAM) June 20, 2023
Overheard at the event: Plenty of participants shared their excitement, emphasizing opportunities to connect with employers, learn about new skills and find paths to future careers.
- “These are viable careers. They are jobs that you can make quite a bit of money right from the beginning, and at the same time you’re learning core skills that you can carry on for the rest of your life.”
- “We’ve got tons of jobs out there across the U.S. Everybody is looking for talented individuals.”
- “You can explore … different careers that you want to do, [to] help you become a more successful adult in the future.”
The big picture: Over the course of the Creators Wanted Tour, which launched a year and eight months ago:
- 4 million students and career mentors have signed up online to learn more about modern manufacturing careers.
- Over 10,000 students and more than 3,000 career mentors have participated in our immersive experience, with 84% reporting a significantly improved view of modern manufacturing careers.
- The tour has received $5.35 million in positive earned media and 150 million digital impressions.
Making an impact: “Interacting with the students, educators and caregivers, we could truly feel the impact we’re making,” said Chrys Kefalas, managing vice president of brand strategy at the NAM. “This isn’t just about changing minds—we’re creating dreams and altering life trajectories.”
What’s next: The tour keeps on rolling this fall to Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and Circleville, Ohio. You can also keep an eye out for new online resources that are coming out this summer, or browse the more than 330,000 open manufacturing jobs and 150,000 training programs listed online.
Keeping her employees happy and engaged is something Pamela Kan, president and owner of Bishop-Wisecarver, takes seriously.
And for good reason. Workforce retention is a pain point for many manufacturers and consistently cited, along with recruitment, as a top business challenge in the NAM’s Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey.
For Kan, meeting this challenge starts with getting her employees’ input—what’s on their minds, their career aspirations and the ways they think the company can improve. Then she acts on it.
Garnering feedback: To assess engagement, Bishop-Wisecarver surveys its employees and calculates an employee net promotor score, which is an internal measurement of employee satisfaction. Kan, the executive director of culture and people and department heads then discuss the areas that need improvement.
- “We share with employees where we have friction points or where things need to change,” Kan said. “We make that very visible. We then start checking these things off the list.”
The company also offers employees many different opportunities to share what’s on their minds, through informal check-ins, team huddles, employee lunches and skip-level meetings.
- “Every single one of these times we are asking for feedback,” Kan emphasized. “We document it and follow up on it, because whenever you ask for feedback and you don’t then respond with changes or next-level discussions, you break the trust with your employees that you care about them.”
- “I reach out to new employees at the 60-day mark to see how it’s going,” she continued. “One actually reached out and said, ‘yeah, we need to talk.’ It was all positive. Some things he didn’t quite understand, being new [to the company], and it showed me some gaps in our onboarding process.”
Conducting reviews: Instead of formal reviews, Kan says Bishop-Wisecarver has instituted quarterly check-ins, with the conversations often centering around career advancement.
- “We’ve tried to create a career ladder that’s not just vertical, but allows for offramps where employees can explore different channels of the company,” said Kan.
- “If somebody starts as an application engineer, that doesn’t mean they have to stay in engineering. They might want to go and try a position in sales, project management or marketing. We leave the door open.”
Other strategies: Kan has also implemented several other workplace practices to keep employees engaged.
- Recognizing employees: Through a program called “Bishop-Wisecarver Bucks,” employees receive a bank of bucks once a month that they can use to recognize others who have lived up to one of the company’s core values: preserve the family culture, deliver a signature experience, embrace a pioneering spirit and the need for speed. The company has an online portal where those receiving the bucks can purchase company merchandise, gift cards or tickets to events.
- Inspiring the next generation: Based on feedback from her employees, Bishop-Wisecarver partners with multiple nonprofits that support students in their local community. One of these is FIRST Robotics, which inspires young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, as well as well-rounded contributors to society, by engaging them in mentor-based research and robotics programs.
- Reimagining the workspace: After polling her employees, Kan redesigned an entire building to reflect the workstyles and needs of her team. For example, the second floor of the building is now a large training space, where tables, chairs and white boards have wheels for easy configuration for company-wide meetings to multiple small groups. To break down the silos of separate lunchrooms, she created Wisecarver Way Café, complete with a pool table and ping-pong table. The company also has a space for employees to do yoga, allows them to bring their dogs to work and offers gym memberships.
- Offering support: Bishop-Wisecarver also has a program called Life Guides, which connects employees undergoing hardships with peer mentors who have been through similar difficulties, such as caring for an elderly parent or coping with a death in the family.
The last word: “Don’t ask your team for feedback and then do nothing with it,” Kan reinforced. “That’s what creates disengaged team members. Sometimes we don’t get it right, but at least we’ve tried.”
The Manufacturing Institute has many initiatives to help employers retain and develop their teams. For a deeper dive, check out this study by the MI on improving retention and employee engagement. The MI will also explore retention challenges and solutions at its Workforce Summit in Atlanta on Oct. 16–18. Click here for more information.
The Creators Wanted Tour, a joint project of the National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute, set new records at the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”: the Indianapolis 500.
By the numbers: The tour’s 17th stop, generously sponsored by Snap-on, allowed nearly 1,600 young fans and their families to experience modern manufacturing first-hand.
- In addition, more than 72,000 students and career mentors signed up online to learn more about manufacturing careers.
- So far, over 10,000 students have taken part in the immersive experience since its launch in October 2021, with 84% of participants reporting an improved view of modern manufacturing careers. Online signups have now surpassed 1.3 million.
What they’re saying: “’Creators Wanted’ is a critical message to all young people, parents, caregivers and educators across our country,” said Snap-on CEO Nick Pinchuk, who is also an NAM executive committee member and MI board member.
- “Snap-on is proud to bring the Creators Wanted Tour to the [Indianapolis Motor Speedway] and the Indianapolis 500, showing younger race fans and their families that manufacturing is an exciting place where the opportunities are many, the careers are rewarding and the lives are filled with the pride of being part of something greater than yourself,” he continued.
- NAM President and CEO and MI Chairman of the Board Jay Timmons added, “The world’s largest single day sporting event met the nation’s largest manufacturing campaign—and it revved up enthusiasm about modern manufacturing in a big way with more students and their families.”
Behind the scenes: Alongside the Creators Wanted experience at Fan Midway at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), fans were also treated to a number of other interactive exhibits.
- These included: Snap-on’s “Makers and Fixers” tent; Honda’s racing simulator and vehicle fleet; the IMS Kids Zone where young fans raced on their own track; and FactoryFix’s activities and resources to help people find their path into manufacturing careers, including its work through CreatorsWanted.org.
- “Seeing folks at Indy curious about our ‘Creators Wanted’ campaign was such a great confirmation of the research and testing we did to arrive at the name for this effort,” said Erin Streeter, Executive Vice President of the NAM. “When parents and kids asked us about the type of creators we need in manufacturing, it just showed how spot-on our message really is.”
- The NAM video team captured some of the fan sentiment with this video.
The big picture: “These tour stops often serve as the first interaction individuals have with the NAM and the MI, and the impression is powerful,” said Chrys Kefalas, Managing Vice President of Brand Strategy at the NAM. ” These meaningful personal interactions create lasting impressions and underscore the industry’s value.”
Indianapolis, Indiana – The National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education affiliate of the NAM, and Snap-on Incorporated are bringing the industry-leading Creators Wanted campaign to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Creators Wanted Tour is on-site at Fan Midway by the IMS Kids Zone on Friday, May 26, and Saturday, May 27, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT and Sunday, May 28, from 6:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT. The Creators Wanted Tour brings the excitement of modern manufacturing to life for all ages, with an immersive experience (an escape room–style activity) that challenges participants to race to the future and with resources to help younger race fans and their families explore how they can be part of creating, making, tinkering and building in the United States.
The manufacturing industry in the United States has approximately 700,000 open jobs. Creators Wanted strives to, by 2025, empower 600,000 new manufacturing team members, increase the number of students enrolling in technical and vocational schools or reskilling programs by 25% and increase the positive perception of the industry by parents to 50% from 27%.
“‘Creators Wanted’ is a critical message to all young people, parents, caregivers and educators across our country,” said Snap-on Chairman and CEO, NAM Executive Committee Member and MI Board Member Nick Pinchuk. “Snap-on is proud to bring the Creators Wanted Tour to the IMS and the Indianapolis 500 showing younger race fans and their families that manufacturing is an exciting place where the opportunities are many, the careers are rewarding and the lives are filled with the pride of being part of something greater than yourself.”
Since its launch in 2021, the Creators Wanted Tour has visited 16 cities, reaching more than 9,000 students in person, along with more than 2,400 parents, teachers, mentors and local leaders. The campaign has also built an email roster of more than 1.2 million students and career mentors interested in manufacturing careers.
“The world’s largest single day sporting event meets the nation’s largest manufacturing campaign—and it’s going to rev up enthusiasm about modern manufacturing in a big way with more students and their families,” said NAM President and CEO and MI Chairman of the Board Jay Timmons. “Together with our partners like Snap-on, we’re building excitement about modern manufacturing careers and providing the resources for people to reach their full potential.”
Indiana Manufacturing Facts:
- There were 23,936 total manufacturing job postings in Indiana from January 2023 to March 2023. In addition, there were 84,904 unique manufacturing job postings from January 2022 to December 2022.
The NAM will continue its Creators Wanted Tour with stops across the country. For more information on the campaign, visit CreatorsWanted.org.
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.90 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 55% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.
The Manufacturing Institute grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The MI’s diverse initiatives support all workers in America, including women, veterans and students, through skills training programs, community building and the advancement of their career in manufacturing. As the 501(c)3 nonprofit workforce development and education affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges. For more information on the MI, please visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org.
Snap-on Incorporated is a leading global innovator, manufacturer and marketer of tools, equipment, diagnostics, repair information and systems solutions for professional users performing critical tasks, including those working in vehicle repair, aerospace, the military, natural resources and manufacturing. From its founding in 1920, Snap-on has been recognized as the mark of the serious and the outward sign of the pride and dignity working men and women take in their professions. Products and services are sold through the company’s network of widely recognized franchisee vans, as well as through direct and distributor channels, under a variety of notable brands. The company also provides financing programs to facilitate the sales of its products and to support its franchise business. Snap-on, an S&P 500 company, generated sales of $4.5 billion in 2022 and is headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
For additional information on Snap-on, visit www.snapon.com.
When service members leave the military, manufacturers are quick to say: “Come on over!” Military skills are usually a great match for manufacturing careers, which require attention to detail, technical abilities and creative thinking. And there’s no better matchmaker than the Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America initiative, which since 2018 has been offering training certification programs and career courses to transitioning service members and veterans.
Today, HMA not only serves service members on military installations across the country but has also expanded its reach via a virtual training program.
Widening the reach: Now in its second year, the virtual training program has allowed HMA to impact service members on a national scale.
- For the first time, members from four branches—Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy—are participating in the same class at the same time.
- Additionally, the geographic range of participants has increased to comprise students located far and wide, including in Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Kansas and Kentucky.
- The program has reached more than 120,000 prospective students through local transition assistance, HMA’s LinkedIn and Facebook presence and the SkillBridge website.
How it works: HMA partnered with Texas State Technical College to create a virtual nine-week training and certification program.
- Participants earn nationally portable, industry-recognized Certified Production Technician certification as well as an OSHA 10 certification.
- Through Heroes Connect, HMA also partners with sponsors like Johnson & Johnson, The Caterpillar Foundation, Amazon, Howmet Aerospace, WestRock, Saint-Gobain, Atlas Copco, Cargill, FUCHS Lubricants Company, C.H. Guenther & Sons, Honda Foundation, Niagara Bottling and the NAFEM, PPI and SEMI Associations to connect program graduates and members of the military community with manufacturers.
What we’re saying: “It’s exciting to see members from four branches of the military all in one virtual classroom together,” said Heroes MAKE America Senior Program Manager Katie Bowerman. “There’s a lot of strength in that kind of diversity.”
Spread the word: Do you have jobs for which HMA students might qualify, or know of a service member who would want to join the program? The HMA virtual program is open to any transitioning service member who is in their last six months of active-duty service, as well as to veteran and active-duty military spouses. For more information, contact [email protected].
Manufacturers nationwide are taking steps to ensure a supportive and respectful workforce that values the varied talents and backgrounds of all employees. nVent—a manufacturer of electrical connection and protection solutions—believes that inclusion and diversity initiatives have the potential to positively impact every part of its business.
Inclusion and diversity have been a priority for nVent since it became a public company in 2018. By identifying strategic initiatives for its inclusion and diversity efforts, nVent has become a thought leader in the electrical manufacturing industry. Five years later, those initiatives have become a comprehensive strategy that is embedded in the company’s operations.
“We may not always have the answers,” said Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer Laura Brock, “But we want to make sure we create an opportunity for progress and share the resources we have developed with our customers and partners to drive inclusion in our industry.”
A comprehensive strategy: nVent’s strategy is built around four pillars designed to promote inclusion and diversity throughout the company, according to Brock and Inclusion and Diversity Manager Jasmin Buckingham.
- Employees: From recruitment onward and throughout the employee lifecycle, nVent ensures that inclusion and diversity is part of every employee’s experience.
- Communities: nVent strives to be “a good citizen” in its community by promoting shared economic growth through multiple avenues—including philanthropy. It has made inclusion and diversity a central aim of these efforts.
- Customers: The company supports a diverse range of customers in the electrical industry and works to meet all customers where they are.
- Suppliers: nVent is focused on supplier diversity, which promotes engagement, growth and innovation through diverse business relationships.
Other initiatives: nVent runs several initiatives within its pillar strategy to drive inclusion and diversity across the company:
- ERGs: Employee Resource Groups are an important part of inclusion and diversity at nVent. These groups are “the hands and feet of creating an inclusive culture,” according to Brock. All employees are welcome to join ERGs, which create connections between peers across the globe. The ERGs allow employees to share experiences and discuss topics that are important to them, she added.
- Workshops: After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, nVent hosted workshops where people could ask questions and engage in discussion about race and injustice. Attendance sometimes topped 900 employees.
- Learning circles: nVent created a series of additional opportunities to bring employees together in inclusive spaces. These smaller groups allow employees to share stories and engage in open conversation.
Accountability for inclusion: Brock and Buckingham made it clear that the company’s inclusion and diversity work requires constant progress and accountability—making it essential to track metrics and promote improvements.
- Through an “inclusion index”—an employee pulse survey that sent out four times a year—nVent employees share their honest feedback. The data is then used to generate ESG scorecards for departments and leaders, which are a factor in compensation.
- “The choices we make and the behaviors we exhibit impact our culture at nVent. Everyone plays a role in creating an inclusive and respectful environment for all,” according to Brock.
Taking the pledge: nVent is also a proud signatory of the NAM’s Pledge for Action, which commits the industry “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” by 2025.
Advice for the industry: Companies should “get comfortable being uncomfortable,” according to Buckingham. “It can be uncomfortable having these open conversations … but it is important and impactful so that you can learn and understand one another better to make it a more inclusive workplace.”
If you’re looking for a career with no “typical days,” Jillian Evanko would advise you to choose manufacturing.
Mixing it up: Every workday offers something new and exciting for Evanko, the president and CEO of Chart Industries, a global leader in the design, engineering and manufacture of process technologies and equipment for the clean energy and industrial gas markets.
- “Whether I have a customer meeting, an investor conference, a keynote speaking event, a panel session or meetings with my executive team, every single day looks different to me, which is what I love about my job,” said Evanko.
Business sense: It was a talent for business that led Evanko—a 2023 honoree of the Manufacturing Institute’s Women MAKE Awards, which recognize outstanding female talent in the manufacturing sector—to the industry.
- “Early in my career I worked for Honeywell and Dover Corporation in various financial and operational roles,” said Evanko, who holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame.
- Once she entered the field, she found that she genuinely enjoyed it—and she’s here to stay. “The fast-moving, exciting nature of the manufacturing industry is what keeps me in it,” she said. “There is always an opportunity to innovate or make a technological development, and you really get to see the impact of what you produce making a difference in everyday life.”
A changing industry: Evanko has seen manufacturing evolve for the better since she got her start, especially for women employees.
- “In the past few years, I think the world has come to recognize that there is a direct correlation between diversity in manufacturing and increased innovation,” she said. “By diversifying a workforce, you gain access to new thoughts, ideas and perspectives.”
- “Since I’ve begun my career, I have seen more women enter the manufacturing industry, and even within my past five years at Chart, we are continuing to see more women taking on more senior roles, including operations and manufacturing roles.”
Growing company: In recent months, Evanko has been even busier than usual, as Chart Industries recently completed its acquisition of Howden, an air- and gas-handling products manufacturer and services provider.
- The acquisition, Chart’s largest to date, has doubled the size of the company’s engineering team. It “helps us expand into new geographies and gain access to new customers, and it provides us with a much more expansive Nexus of Clean™ offering,” she said, referring to the firm’s array of products and solutions for a more sustainable future.
The best, period: Evanko devotes much of her time to helping and educating others. One example of this is the way she provides her daughter’s Girl Scout troop with access to entrepreneurial speakers, as well as information about the world of manufacturing. She has developed a mantra that keeps her constantly striving for improvement:
- “I like to say that I don’t want to be the best female CEO, I want to be the best CEO,” she said. “For women in manufacturing looking to grow in their careers, aim to be the best you can be despite gender, age or background.”
- “Be confident in what you bring to the table and never underestimate your abilities,” she continued. “Listen to others and empower them to bring their ideas forward. And never underestimate the power of simply being kind.”