Competition for talent is heating up as job growth edges the country closer to full employment. Adding to conventional market pressures, fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is raising crucial questions about the future of work. Employers are having to rethink their assumptions about how to attract and retain an engaged workforce.
Factors like these are motivating leaders in manufacturing, automation, and systems integration to take a fresh look at the role of women. Leading the market in addressing long-standing gender and wage gaps may also yield a competitive edge when it comes to winning the talent game and making your company a great place to work.
1. Go upstream to nurture and attract the best candidates
The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education arena offers employers a rich opportunity to get ahead of the curve by inspiring girls and young women in elementary school, high school, and college to consider manufacturing as an attractive and viable career path. Although women tend to perform at least as high as men in STEM disciplines, they frequently move away from traditionally male-dominated fields into alternative careers.
Innovative companies are meeting these young learners where they are:
- Participate in school and community job fairs
- Invite young learners to see what it is like to work at your company
- Help women who currently work at your company to be visible in the community
- Sponsor STEM competitions and scholarships
- Create meaningful internship roles for college women
Do all you can to make young people aware of what is out there when it comes to rewarding, long-term career opportunities in your market space and how they can find educational experiences that will get them there.
2. Get your marketing image in alignment with your workplace experience
Let’s say your company is already a role model when it comes to opportunities for women. Do they have a proportional presence in your public image? If you were to audit your sales, marketing, and internal communications materials today, how are women portrayed? Would a prospective hire be able to envision themselves in a role with real growth opportunity?
- Give a public voice to women who are leaders and decision makers in your organization
- Update your image materials to show women who are succeeding at all levels
- Pay close attention to photo and video composition to break gender stereotypes
3. Open the books and the boardroom to women
Historically, women are under-represented in executive, managerial, and senior technical roles. You can face significant opportunity cost if your organization excludes women where men typically have open access. When women don’t fully participate in important business conversations, you not only risk loss of their immediate performance contribution, you also risk costly brain drain. Employees who don’t see a credible chance for personal and professional growth are likely to flee to a competitor or to another industry altogether. Here are some practical ways to keep your people engaged:
- Have inclusive conversations about the inner workings of your business
- Engage in good-faith discussions about home, office, and hybrid work arrangements
- Build flexibility into your culture for different life-stages and career goals
- Look beyond base pay for retention incentives like ownership or continuing education
Finally, it’s vital to set realistic work expectations, especially for women in every generational cohort. Women coming in out of college feel pressure to impress and may say yes to more than what’s good for them or for the business. Women in other life stages must balance workplace demands with all kinds of personal and professional commitments. Your people need to know that it’s safe for them to show up as whole people.
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Clayton and McKervey works with firms in manufacturing, industrial automation, architecture and engineering, and the automotive industry to improve profitability and performance. Contact us to discuss staffing strategies, succession planning, tax planning, or the overall financial health of your organization.