The U.S. manufacturing industry is facing a big problem: women make up half of the total workforce yet only 29% of the U.S. manufacturing workforce. According to research from Deloitte, there will be a shortage of two million workers in the manufacturing industry over the next decade. Recruiting more women to join supply chain, especially in the area of manufacturing, is key to overcoming this anticipated talent gap. Hiring more women is an obvious strategy, but retention hinges on the ability of employers to provide a work environment where women flourish and advance.
To determine how the industry can better attract and retain women, APICS conducted a study, along with Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, to discover what women value most in their manufacturing careers. “Women in Manufacturing: Stepping up to make an impact that matters” includes insights from more than 600 women professionals in the manufacturing industry and nearly 20 interviews with both male and female manufacturing executives. The study showcases how gender diversity improves how companies operate and the steps a business can take to foster a welcoming, inclusive corporate culture.
In nearly every way, it makes sense to include women in manufacturing. Beyond the sheer size of talent pool, the diverse perspectives women bring to the table are critical in decision-making. Additionally, having women in corporate leadership leads to improved financial performance. Even a company with just 30% of women in leadership roles can see an increase of 15% in net profitability.
There are many things we can do to solve this talent gap. First, we need to introduce manufacturing careers to all students much earlier—preferably before high school. In addition, we need to make manufacturing careers appealing to young women and help them understand the significant opportunities available to them. Women who are currently in manufacturing roles see the benefits – 70% said they would stay in the industry if they started their careers today. Programs like the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Initiative are vital towards raising the visibility of opportunities for women, both in the industry and within their own companies. STEP Ahead Award winners have impacted more than 300,000 individuals over the past five years, with 70% of award winners volunteering within the K-12 system to encourage young girls to consider careers in manufacturing. In addition, APICS has created a Supply Chain STEM program designed for K-12 students to demonstrate the importance of supply chain management and the promising career paths available to them.