Six lessons for companies looking to improve cultural and gender inclusion in their companies

In February of 2021, Trillium released a report on gender diversity in Ontario manufacturing. One of the conclusions of that report highlighted the importance of manufacturers having a diversified workforce. While having a culturally and gender-diversified workforce can and does provide long-term stability, the report also concluded that, in a post-pandemic world, “…manufacturers have a substantial amount of work to do when it comes to better engaging underrepresented demographics.” That report highlighted five companies that had found success in this effort. But how can other companies reach these goals?

In Trillium’s new report, Bridges, not Barriers: Advancing Racialized Women in Ontario Manufacturing, we provided actionable recommendations for manufacturing companies to advance their workforce diversity efforts. To develop these lessons, we interviewed three racialized women manufacturing business leaders to see what their paths to success looked like. Through conversations with Peng-Sang Cau of ATS Automation, Kathy Cheng of Redwood Classics Apparel, and Niru Somayajula of Sensor Technology Ltd., we compiled a list of 6 lessons other companies can learn from when building their workforce diversity development strategies.

As we continue to research and write about this subject, one thing is clear: companies that manage to find a way to engage with racialized women will have a competitive advantage over those that do not. Moreover, providing opportunities to advance in manufacturing has positive socioeconomic impacts on the communities that historically underrepresented groups exist in.

This podcast episode features Nick’s interview with three of the report’s authors, Eva Kwan, Shannon Miller, and Talissa Watson, wherein they discuss in detail the six lessons of the report:

  • Collect data
  • Invest in employee education and development
  • Invest in entrepreneurship through education and program development
  • Ensure procurement practices are accessible to diverse networks of suppliers
  • Develop and showcase diverse and culturally competent leaders
  • Recognize and address implicit biases

Have a listen.

Timestamp

00:00-03:34 – Intro
03:35-06:39 – Meeting the report authors
06:40-08:58 – Why did we do this report?
08:59-09:33 – The 6 lessons of the report
09:34-11:15 – Lesson 1 – The importance of collecting and analyzing data…
11:16-12:29 – …like: Which applicants get a call-back?
12:30-14:06 – The cultural disparity between Main St. and the shop floor
14:07-15:34 – Lesson 2 – Investing in employee education and development
15:35-16:22 – Who should be offering these programs?
16:23-18:28 – Using better language in job postings
18:29-22:03 – Lesson 3 – Investing in entrepreneurship program development
22:04-23:26 – Talissa, valedictorian
23:27-23:58 – ‘Ecosystems of support’
23:59-24:55 – Lesson 4 – Ensure procurement practices are open to smaller suppliers
24:56-27:32 – Insights from CAMSC – ‘Market access opportunities’
27:33-28:47 – Lesson 5 – Showcasing culturally diverse leadership
28:48-30:53 – Talissa on the importance of representation and seeing yourself in the workplace
30:54-33:19 – Lesson 6 – Addressing implicit biases
33:20-35:02 – How can Nick address his own implicit biases?
35:03-36:20 – ‘Adding seats to this table doesn’t mean less elbow room’ – Shannon Miller
36:21-36:48 – Ontario’s labor shortage
36:49-40:07 – Nick tries to address one of his own biases, and the importance of data
40:08-40:42 – The manufacturing sector needs to make some adjustments’ – Shannon Miller

Links
Bridges, not Barriers: Advancing Racialized Women in Ontario Manufacturing
Gender Diversity and Ontario Manufacturing: Lessons From Five Leading Companies