Job openings in manufacturing remain high, with many manufacturers citing the shortage of skilled labor as a major business challenge. Increasingly, companies are taking a closer look at their internal cultures and asking themselves a crucial question: How can we make ourselves more attractive to new recruits from diverse backgrounds?
Seeking all willing workers: Panelists at the recent D&I Roundtable: Recruiting and Retaining LGBT+ Employees, hosted by the MI, discussed the growing awareness among manufacturers of ensuring that their companies are LGBT+-friendly workplaces.
- “When you build a psychologically safe environment, all employees benefit from it because all employees will start to share their ideas without [fear of] retribution,” said Entegris Senior Manager of Talent Management & Development Phillip Spencer.
Say no to “rainbow washing”: To recruit talent who identify as LGBT+, panelists agreed, manufacturers must genuinely create an accepting, open culture rather than just engage in “rainbow washing,”—i.e., adding a rainbow to company branding while offering few, if any, benefits to actual LGBT+ people.
Seek out ambassadors, but don’t push: LGBT+ employees can act as ambassadors to help a company build trust among other LGBT+ workers and prospective new talent, speakers said. Companies should seek out such potential representatives, but without assuming they will want to take on the responsibility.
- “Nobody knows better what the experience is like than somebody who’s going through it,” said Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company Senior Engineer Arwen Kathke, who is also the community outreach chair for the Goodyear pride network. “Including those employees in your decision-making processes and having those conversations with them to understand what their experience is will go a long way.”
Measuring success: How can manufacturers determine whether they’re reaching LGBT+ talent? There are various way, panelists said.
- “There’s one great metric that’s going to help any organization understand 100% if it’s inclusive: Do you allow people to self-identify?” said Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Georgia Power Company and Southern Company Sloane Drake.
- Another way is to review employee representation data, as well as the number of self-identifying people moving through leadership-development pipelines into leadership positions.
The last word: “If you create a supportive environment and have your internal development done,” said Kathke, “with employees who are starting to step up and really foster that environment, that’s going to work out a lot better in the long run.”
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