Why Diversity Matters in the Manufacturing Industry

There’s a growing need for diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives in various industries. While diversity means the representation of groups and other important facets of identity, inclusion refers to providing access to opportunities and resources to people who are marginalized. Meanwhile, equity means allocating those resources and opportunities for people in order to achieve an equal outcome. It’s the result of diversity and inclusion working together so that people can thrive in a fair environment.

Within the manufacturing sector, research shows that less than 33% professionals are women. Additionally, the 2021 Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute study found that women are more likely to leave the manufacturing industry compared to men.

The research also noted how women are underrepresented in the sector as they are 1.8 times more likely to leave it. One of the top reasons for this is due to the lack of a work and life balance. Flexible work arrangements also play an important part in this.

The benefits of DE&I in the manufacturing business

In addition to building equal workplace environments, DE&I initiates are integral when it comes to diving innovation and business performance. Companies with diverse talent have better organizational management and increased productivity. What’s more, these companies have the competitive advantage. A study on Fortune 500 manufacturing companies found that those who champion diversity and inclusion are more likely to do better financially.

In addition to increased productivity, balanced organizational management alongside an increased competitive advantage and improved financial performance, other benefits of DE&I initiatives include the following:

  • Improved decision-making skills
  • Accurate decision-making skills
  • Improved innovation capabilities
  • High customer satisfaction
Going beyond the basics

According to a 2021 study, 63% of manufacturers connect DE&I business benefits to the improved ability to attract, retain and develop talent. However, it should be noted that not everyone surveyed understood the link between better employee retention and an expanded talent pool. Although the majority of manufacturers said they also have DE&I training when it comes to employee management, fewer than 25% said DE&I had an impact on retention.

This indicates that manufacturing leaders should expand beyond training programs in order to achieve more DE&I outcomes. The focus on simply recruiting diverse individuals is not enough. Taking action and creating a culture that champions DE&I is a step in the right direction. This can be accomplished by first defining the values of a company. Including broader culture, management and workforce initiatives can be viewed as an opportunity to go beyond basic training programs.

By fostering a culture of growth and opportunity, manufacturing companies not only lead the charge on DE&I for the industry, but also help build the ethical and socially-conscious framework required for success.

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