New report provides roadmap for gender diversity in manufacturing
Study is an important step towards an action plan for industry.
London, Ontario – Improving gender diversity in Ontario’s manufacturing sector makes both economic and moral sense, concludes a Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing report. The report, which includes case studies of five Ontario manufacturers (Honda of Canada Mfg., Sanofi Canada, Muskoka Brewery, MAD Elevator, Cascades), shows that focusing on gender diversity helps companies attract and retain top-level talent. Attracting and retaining talented employees is important for manufacturers who face challenges related to labour shortages and an aging workforce.
“Manufacturing is a critical part of our economy, and in order to thrive, manufacturers need to attract the best and brightest. And fifty percent of our best and brightest are women. The five manufacturers featured in this report have found ways to do this and should be commended. They were so incredibly open about their experiences, and there is so much we can learn from them,” says Dr. Brendan Sweeney, Trillium Network’s Managing Director and co-author of ‘Gender Diversity and Ontario Manufacturing: Lessons from Five Leading Companies.’
The report found that improving diversity and inclusion is the result of conscious and intentional efforts made by company leaders. “All of these companies put in a lot of work. They made investments in their people and their practices. There were no happy accidents,” says Eva Kwan, a PhD Candidate at Western University and co-author. Kwan goes on to note that “Yes, there are costs associated with these investments. But there are also benefits to employees, their families and communities, and to the companies. And in each case, the benefits substantially outweigh the costs.”
Other findings show that the occupational mix within different manufacturing industries impacts gender diversity. For example, pharmaceutical manufacturers rely far more on life science professionals (e.g. virologists and immunologists) than other manufacturers. In Canada, a much greater proportion of life science professionals are women when compared to other manufacturing-related occupations, such as mechanical engineers and industrial electricians. Therefore, the proportion of women in high-paying pharmaceutical industry jobs is higher than in other manufacturing industries. The report also highlights the importance of data and benchmarking as essential components of diversity and inclusivity initiatives.
Engaging a diverse workforce will be critical in the near future as manufacturers seek talent as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Talissa Watson, a MSc Candidate at the Ivey Business School and the report’s third co-author, notes that “The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago. The second best time is now. This report provides some important insights for companies looking to improve gender diversity.”
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