Manufacturers Stand Up for Equality
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Manufacturing businesses have long been proponents of equality in the workplace. As legislation to codify protections for LGBT individuals passes through the House of Representatives, the National Association of Manufacturers joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other members of the business community in advocating its passage, forging coalitions and providing congressional testimony.
Introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate in March, the Equality Act includes federal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the existing framework of the Civil Rights Act, which already provides protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin, race, color or sex. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that no person can face legal discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, setting a clear federal standard to enable individuals to succeed based on their abilities and qualifications to perform a job.
“Employers understand the importance of creating an environment in which the very best people can succeed based on merit,” Patrick Hedren, NAM vice president, labor, legal and regulatory policy, said. “At the same time, manufacturers know that discrimination in any form is antithetical to the values that we work to uphold every day: equality of opportunity, individual liberty, free enterprise and competitiveness.”
In March, more than 40 other industry associations rallied to support the Equality Act, providing an important boost for the groundbreaking legislation. In the weeks since, manufacturing representatives have testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and signed a coalition letter to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services calling for the Act’s passage. As Congress considers the way forward, manufacturers have made clear that they intend to advocate forcefully on behalf of the legislation and uphold their commitment to workers of every gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Equality Act creates a clear federal standard that matches the sentiments manufacturers already share: gender identity and sexual orientation have no impact on an employee’s abilities and discrimination is not welcome on the manufacturing floor,” Hedren said. “We look forward to working with Congress as this important legislation moves ahead.”
NAM Welcomes DOL Repeal of Onerous “Persuader Rule”
Manufacturers Score Another Key Regulatory Win Under Trump Administration
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded the 2016 Persuader Rule:
Manufacturers have fought for this victory for many years in the courts, in Congress and with two administrations, using the full weight of our policy, government relations and legal teams, said Timmons. The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action was able to halt the rule in court in 2016.And in 2017, the Trump administration, as part of its broader regulatory relief agenda, thankfully began the process of unwinding the rule. This overreaching rule threatened to impose serious burdens on manufacturers and upend employee–employer communications. Now manufacturers are relieved that this threat to workplace communications is finally and officially off the books. Commonsense steps like this to rein in onerous regulations are a major reason why manufacturers are reporting record-high business optimism.
In 2016, the NAM testified on the harmful impacts of the rule before the House Small Business Committee and the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) is the leading voice of manufacturers in the courts and engages in a range of activities, including direct party litigation and operating a robust amicus program, as well as educating manufacturers about emerging legal trends. The MCLA is led by NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly and NAM Vice President of Litigation and Deputy General Counsel Peter Tolsdorf. More information on the MCLA can be found here.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.
A One-Woman Workforce Solution: Meet Toyotetsu’s Leslie Cantu
Leslie Cantu has an unusual but effective method of stress reduction: cuddling with bovines.
“You can’t stay stressed or frustrated when you have a cow licking you on the cheek,” laughed Toyotetsu’s assistant vice president of administration.
Ranch life: Living on a ranch south of San Antonio, Texas, with 13 dogs, 15 cats, five miniature horses, multiple sheep and three newborn lambs might sound to others like a lot of work, but to Cantu, it is indeed a method of decompression.
- “I have five children and two grandbabies, and spending time with them out on the ranch, just being able to take care of the animals and enjoy time with the kids, it’s rewarding, it’s relaxing,” said Cantu.
- Life on the ranch sounds busy, but it’s nothing compared to work life for Cantu, a 2023 Honoree of the Manufacturing Institute’s Women MAKE Awards, which recognize top female talent in the manufacturing industry. She’s involved in a dizzying array of workforce programs both at the company and outside of it.
Finding FAME: Cantu, the first woman to be named an assistant vice president at the global automotive parts manufacturer, spends a lot of time making a difference for the company’s workforce.
- In 2016, her first year on the job, she helped Toyotetsu open the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education’s first Texas chapter, TX FAME – Alamo. Today, she serves as the chapter president.
- “Through FAME, we’ve really been able to build that multiskilled-technician pipeline to make sure we can meet those critical skills needed for our business,” Cantu said of the workforce development initiative for high school graduates, which was founded by Toyota and is now operated by the MI (the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education affiliate).
Seeking diversity: Cantu also helped Toyotetsu form a partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission and the local workforce development board to create a 12-week manufacturing apprenticeship program—the first of its kind in Texas—for individuals with disabilities. The inaugural class graduated in January.
- “It’s programs like this and FAME that help us find unique ways to fill those skills gaps and focus on diversifying the workforce,” she said. “There’s a lot to be said for diversifying the workforce, [including] improved morale and retention.”
A second chance: In 2018, in another bid to deepen Toyotetsu’s talent pool, Cantu spearheaded the launch of a second chance hiring initiative in partnership with the local county’s economic development board. The project now consists of seven manufacturers, all of whom regularly hire formerly incarcerated individuals—with great results.
- “Toyotetsu alone has hired about 140 ex-offenders and had tremendous success with that,” said Cantu.
- “Analyzing our data and metrics, we’ve been able to see that our second chance population has better performance and better retention than those who come to us through traditional recruiting. [Second chance] has effectively become a go-to, best practices strategy for us.”
Playing to strengths: Cantu credits some of her success in strengthening Toyotetsu’s workforce to her natural ability to think creatively.
- “As we continue to work through the national skills-force gap, hiring and COVID-19, it’s become important to think outside the box … to see how we could build our talent pipeline,” Cantu said.
- “That’s one of my strengths, tapping into those resources. Part of that is knowing what resources are out there, and thankfully, I’ve got a great boss and corporate office that support community involvement,” she added.
And if that wasn’t enough … Cantu is the chair of Workforce Solutions Alamo, and she sits on the board of the Texas Workforce Commission’s Adult Education & Literacy Advisory Committee and on the advisory board of a local high school.
The last word: Cantu has some encouraging words for women looking to follow in her (very energetic) footsteps:
- “Oftentimes there’s an image of manufacturing [as being] for men, or [that] it’s dark, it’s dirty, it’s dangerous. And that’s not what manufacturing is. There’s a lot of opportunity to use the skills that women bring to the table: multitasking, transferable skills,” she says.
- “It’s incredibly important that we mentor women thinking about careers in manufacturing, tell our stories and share the journey so that we can encourage others following the same path.”
More Women Join the Manufacturing Workforce
Fresh off International Women’s Day, which was March 8, there’s some encouraging news on the labor front: more women are coming back to the workforce, both in manufacturing and throughout the economy.
In manufacturing: Female employment in the industry reached its height this year, with a total of 3.77 million workers, according to NAM calculations based on BLS numbers.
- Women now account for 29% of the manufacturing workforce.
- A year ago this week, the Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education partner, launched its 35×30 campaign, an initiative that aims to boost women’s share of the manufacturing workforce to 35% by 2030.
The overall economy: “Women have gained more jobs than men for four straight months, including in January’s hiring surge, pushing them to hold more than 49.8% of all nonfarm jobs,” according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
- “Female workers last edged higher than men on U.S. payrolls in late 2019, before the pandemic sent nearly 12 million women out of jobs, compared with 10 million men.”
Why it’s happening: The child-care disruptions and health concerns that made many women leave the workforce during the pandemic are diminishing, while employers offer historically high pay and increasing numbers of remote positions.
Why it’s important: More women in the workforce could help ease both worker shortages and inflation.
- With January unemployment reaching a 53-year low, “[a] greater supply of labor could work to counter rising wages and align with the Federal Reserve’s goal of cooling inflation,” according to the Journal.
- More job seekers could also help U.S. manufacturers, whose job openings edged up to 803,0000 in January.
The last word: “In just a year, the 35×30 campaign has made great strides in increasing the number of women in manufacturing—and the latest data show as much,” said MI President Carolyn Lee. “We’re close to our goal. Together, we can get the rest of the way there and make it to 35% by 2030.”
Timmons Gives NAM State of Manufacturing Address
Manufacturing has a leading role in the U.S. economy—but there is still a great deal more to do. That was the message at this year’s NAM State of Manufacturing Address from NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.
Timmons spoke to a gathering of manufacturing team members and the media at Husco in Waukesha, Wisconsin. In his remarks, he laid out the NAM’s view of where the industry is and where it’s going.
The program: The event began with a message from Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, followed by an introduction from NAM board member Austin Ramirez, president and CEO of global engineering and manufacturing company Husco.
- “Wisconsin manufacturers contribute to the vitality of our state through their innovation, productivity and commitment to customer satisfaction,” said Bauer. “While we face many challenges, we are also in the enviable position of controlling our destiny—as long as we work together to create a shared vision of prosperity and an action plan to achieve it.”
- “We are here to shine a light on the amazing, life-changing work that manufacturers do every day,” said Ramirez. “We are the backbone of the American economy, and we are proud of it.”
The state of manufacturing: Timmons spoke about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the importance of the manufacturing industry’s support for the Ukrainian people and the larger struggle between freedom and tyranny.
- “Despite everything happening around us, like the threat of a recession and global conflict, manufacturers are still leading the way forward,” said Timmons.
- “And although our industry and our country will need to make audacious and sometimes uncomfortable changes to adapt to economic, political and global challenges … I’m confident in reporting that the state of manufacturing in America remains steadfast and resolute.”
Manufacturing solutions: Timmons cited a variety of manufacturing challenges, then detailed the NAM’s plans to fight for manufacturers across the United States.
- Supporting immigration: “For so many manufacturers in America right now, there are more open jobs than there are people to fill them,” said Timmons. “One of the many ways we fill those jobs and keep our economy moving is welcoming immigrants into our workforce … just like we have in the past to build a stronger, more prosperous America.”
- Promoting permitting reform: “Permitting reform means making it easier to get permission to build that new road or power plant, or for manufacturers to build new facilities,” said Timmons. “If Washington could just cut through the bureaucracy and streamline processes, like you do in your businesses every single day, we could do more for this country.”
- Fighting for tax fixes: “The NAM is determined to get Congress to restore incentives for R&D and get our business tax rates and structure back on track to enable us to compete globally,” he said. “And then, let’s lock in competitive rates for small businesses … so that you can plan confidently for the future.”
- Competing with China: “If we’re going to counter China, then we must hold China accountable for the trade commitments it has already made to the U.S.,” said Timmons. “And we have to forge ambitious, cutting-edge trade agreements with our allies. Other countries aren’t waiting around. So, let’s think big. And let’s be bold.”
- Pushing back on new EPA rules: “We’re going to tell the EPA that manufacturers are already leading [in cleaning] our air,” said Timmons. “The government shouldn’t enact rules that, however well-intentioned, would make it more difficult to achieve our environmental goals, slow our economic growth and push us closer toward recession.”
The last word: “History shows us that as long as manufacturers lead the way, America and our democracy will remain that beacon of freedom and hope for people around the world,” said Timmons. “Manufacturers have been, and always will be, in word and deed, the arsenal of democracy. And working together, I know we will keep making this a manufacturing decade.”
How Manufacturers Should Pursue Second Chance Hiring
With one-in-four Americans possessing a criminal record, manufacturers who pursue “second chance hiring” are accessing a diverse and motivated talent pool. What do they need to know to begin?
At the Manufacturing Institute’s inaugural Workforce Summit, held in Cincinnati, Ohio, last October, panelists from manufacturers Saint-Gobain and JBM Packaging and from Envoy, a social impact advisory firm specializing in fair chance employment, shared tips on how to create such hiring programs.
Risk assessment: While safety is a concern, panelists emphasized that there is a difference between perceived risk and actual risk.
- “The data shows that second chance individuals are retained longer, have higher productivity and engage in more training than the average individual that you bring in,” said Cassi Zumbiel, managing director at Envoy.
- Saint-Gobain uses “a framework for background checks which we have developed in collaboration with our legal team. Candidates in the second chance hiring programs demonstrate higher level of commitment and a proactive approach to job searching, setting themselves up for success in future roles. We like to collaborate with our community partners in order to provide a good candidate experience and a seamless recruiting process,” explained Magda Dexter, senior vice president of communications and human resources at Saint-Gobain.
- For JBM Packaging, it’s about having honest and transparent conversations with candidates about their backgrounds. JBM also works with case managers to get referrals and assess candidates’ fit with the company.
How to get started: Dexter recommended that companies start with a pilot program, then scale it up, noting that it’s important to select a site that has the right culture, an engaged plant manager and HR support.
- Saint-Gobain has also tried out a variety of different support systems across their company, including hiring a part-time social worker as well as instituting a buddy system and a mentoring program.
- Zumbiel encouraged companies to do background checks only after a conditional offer has been made, recommending that companies should limit the look-back period to three to seven years. “That helps eliminate some of that bias and makes you really look at the candidate holistically.”
- Panelists also noted that it was important to review job descriptions to make sure they specify that second chance candidates are welcome.
From jobs to careers: Ninety percent of JBM’s second chance hires are entry-level production workers; the other 10% have mechanical or machinist skills and fill entry-level technical roles. However, Valerie Plis, director of human capital and culture at JBM, realized there was a lot of experience that the company wasn’t tapping into.
- Plis shared a story of a second chance hire who started as a machine operator. As Plis got to know her, she realized that the new hire had a background in training. The new hire progressed from an operator trainer to a lead trainer, then joined the HR team. In addition to leading training across the company, she now helms the second chance recruiting initiative, coming back full circle.
- Plis added, “At JBM, we started working on putting together some very defined career paths. It’s changed the way we conduct our performance reviews, so now we’re focused on growth and development.”
Succeed by partnering: While second chance hires come with a lot of benefits, there are also some challenges that are unique to this population. Partnering with community organizations can help, the panelists said.
- For Dexter, it’s about figuring out what the company will offer and what the community partners will offer. “We will support with on-the-job training. We will support with [providing] structure at work. We will rely on [our community partners] for job readiness and life skills training.”
- Zumbiel noted that “the community partner can advocate for the employer about the great opportunities and the benefits of working in manufacturing” and also prepare candidates to ace their interviews.
The last word: “A lot of the things we implemented, we thought we were doing just for our second chance population, but they actually ended up becoming a huge benefit for our entire workforce,” Plis said.
Watch: Timmons Talks Workforce on CBS
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons joined CBS Mornings today to discuss manufacturing’s number one challenge: finding enough skilled workers to fill available jobs.
What Manufacturers Should Know about Hiring Military Talent
With 200,000 people transitioning out of the military annually, in addition to veterans, reservists and military spouses, the military population represents a highly skilled talent pool that manufacturers are eager to tap. But how should they go about doing so?
At a recent roundtable, the Manufacturing Institute—the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education partner—brought together veterans who have transitioned successfully out of the military into manufacturing careers, as well as manufacturers who have prioritized attracting and retaining military talent. The panelists discussed how companies can leverage this talent, and here’s some of what they had to say.
A great fit: “If you look at manufacturing, a large part of the job is doing things well, day after day after day—and that’s essentially what happens in the military. It’s that military discipline. It’s one of the most compelling reasons why we should be aggressively hiring military veterans,” said Dow Global Business Director Greg Bunker.
- “We’ve got three principles in our organization that we call ROI: responsibility, operational excellence and innovation. We know that veterans bring each of these to the table,” said UnitedHealth Group Director of People Analytics Troy Vandenberg (formerly director of people analytics at Smithfield Foods).
Networking matters: Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce can be difficult, but veterans who make direct connections with manufacturers often land excellent job offers. The MI’s Heroes MAKE America program facilitates those connections, offering veterans opportunities to meet manufacturers as well as support in the job search process.
- Nicole Rena, an Army veteran and now a shift operations manager at Smithfield Foods, applied to five jobs at Smithfield and didn’t hear back on any of them. But then the program manager at HMA contacted Smithfield’s talent acquisition department to ask if they could speak with Rena about why she wasn’t chosen, so she could be more successful moving forward.
- As Rena put it, “The first 15 minutes of the call was about what I could do better on my resume, but after talking about my background and what I was looking for, the talent acquisition lead said he was going to count this as my first interview.”
- She landed the job! In her 18 months at Smithfield, Rena has been promoted twice.
Language can be a barrier: Rena’s experience speaks to one of the disconnects identified by veterans and manufacturers alike—the language used in job descriptions and resumes. Veterans often do not know how to best describe their skills and experiences in a way that civilian employers can understand.
- To avoid missing out on great talent, the panelists advised, manufacturers should ensure that a leader with a military background is involved in the hiring process, to translate military lingo and skills into more familiar manufacturing terms.
- Manufacturers should also specify in their job descriptions whether they will accept military experience as equivalent to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, Bunker advised.
Support is crucial: Once veterans have been hired, the company must ensure they are set up for success. “Transitioning is a really scary process for veterans. It’s very stressful. The support that a company can provide is huge,” said Meg Zehringer, a Coast Guard veteran and a corporate environmental engineer at National Gypsum.
- Employee resource groups are a great way to provide support to veterans while also serving as a platform to advocate for population-specific needs, the panelists agreed.
- To be most effective, ERGs should be run by employees, not human resources departments, noted Vandenberg. Bunker added that establishing connections between the ERG and company leaders is also key.
The last word: “Equally as important as the wording of your job descriptions and preferred skills is creating a culture that invites a diverse group of people. That’s going to play a huge factor in attracting veterans,” said Zehringer.
Get involved: If you are interested in learning more about HMA, its next Heroes Connect event will be a networking opportunity with Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday, Jan. 25.
- You can also tune in to (or share with interested veterans) this Veterans Learning Series workshop on how to use LinkedIn effectively, coming up on Thursday, Jan. 26.
- And last, HMA will be hosting a virtual hiring fair in late February. Keep an eye on the MI website for updates!
What Foundations and Corporate Donors Are Looking For
Many manufacturers pour their time and money into bolstering local programs for young people, hoping to shape the next generation of manufacturing workers. But how do they determine which organizations to work with, and how should those organizations attract their attention?
At the Manufacturing Institute’s inaugural Workforce Summit, held in Cincinnati back in October, panelists from WestRock Company and Arconic Foundation shared tips for those seeking to build partnerships with potential donors.
Top of mind: Education and workforce development, environment sustainability and social equity are all funding priorities, according to the panelists. Foundations and corporate donors are interested in programs that benefit local communities and reflect their organizations’ values.
- Mandy Burnette, director of corporate giving at WestRock, emphasized that the company looks for organizations that are capable of building a long-term relationship. As she put it, “We don’t give. We don’t donate. We invest in strategic partners.”
The perfect partner: Burnette and Arconic Foundation President and Treasurer Ryan Kish discussed what they look for when making funding decisions.
- A track record of success. Can the program be replicated successfully elsewhere? If so, that’s a huge plus, according to Kish. “A great example of this is FAME,” he added, referring to the workforce development program founded by Toyota and now operated by the MI. “You don’t need to convince me that FAME works. … If I have an opportunity to replicate FAME in one of our communities, I’m going to jump on that.”
- Impact: Kish said that he was drawn to the MI’s 35 x 30 campaign because he recognized that it was impactful. “It not only aligns with our funding priorities, but it’s going to affect a huge number of women and increase [the number of] women in the workplace. That’s what we’re after.”
Taking that first step: Both Burnette and Kish agreed that organizations should talk to their local connections, who will be able to steer them to the right decision-maker in a company or foundation.
- “If you’re reaching out, have a tight story,” Kish said. “Have your project activities, your budget, your timeline and impact story well-defined when you come to a local contact so that it grabs their attention and gets them engaged with you.”
Think long term: Beyond just focusing on attracting talent for jobs of today, foundations and companies are looking increasingly to support initiatives that build talent pipelines for the future.
- “All we’re doing right now [as an industry] is fighting over the same scarce talent,” Kish said. “Take the opportunity to make an investment in early STEM education to build the pipeline, so you’re not dealing with the same problem in 5 and 10 years.”
The last word: The best way to start thinking through partnerships? “Know your end result and then back into it. That’s what we did with our strategy. We knew what we were trying to accomplish and achieve, and then we backed into it and thought about the partners that could help us get to the results that we wanted,” Burnette said.
Manufacturers Should Hire Neurodiverse Workers—Here’s Why and How
Creators are always wanted in manufacturing, and those who bring new perspectives due to their neurological differences can be some of the most valuable.
That was one key takeaway from the Diversity + Inclusion Summit held this month by the Manufacturing Institute (the NAM’s workforce development and education partner). Dr. Keivan Stassun, director of the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation at Vanderbilt University, discussed the benefits of hiring neurodiverse workers, sharing tips on optimizing the hiring process for these workers as well as setting them up for success. Here’s some of his advice.
Why it matters: As manufacturers look for more workers to fill their hundreds of thousands of open positions, they are considering people of many different backgrounds and talents.
- Neurodiverse workers, who may include those with autism, Down syndrome, ADHD or other neurological conditions, have a wide range of abilities and perspectives and can enrich manufacturers’ operations.
- Stassun spoke from personal experience: at the Frist Center research lab, autistic individuals working with the proper support created a data visualization software that has been licensed by NASA, and also patented a technology for mining asteroids.
The benefits: “There are two broad categories of strengths that neurodiverse talent brings to the table—visual cognitive abilities and process/efficiency improvement,” said Stassun.
- Visual cognitive abilities can include skills such as pattern recognition and outlier detection, which can be useful in quality assurance tasks as varied as inspecting batteries coming off an assembly line, surveilling financial records for fraudulent or improper activity or stocking crash carts in emergency rooms.
- Process/efficiency improvement abilities emerge from neurodiverse workers’ atypical or novel perspectives, which help them identify out-of-the-box solutions. As Stassun explained, “Neurodiverse individuals can look at a process and abstract it into a flow chart to find ways to increase efficiencies that no one else would have even thought of.”
How to get started: Stassun recommends that companies try a small pilot program before rolling out a company-wide hiring initiative. He had a few key tips for the recruitment process:
- During the job interview stage, recruiters should be aware of ways in which neurodiversity can differ from neurotypical behavior. For example, interviewees may make minimal eye contact and use extremely direct verbal communication.
- To set neurodiverse workers up for success, companies should examine the sensory environment of their workplaces. Though workers’ needs will vary, they may be sensitive to light, temperature or noise and need certain accommodations, which should be arranged from the outset of employment.
Resources: Stassun offered two resources that will help companies find and retain neurodiverse talent:
- Mentra, a neurodiversity employment network that recruiters can search, and which allows neurodiverse individuals to share their backgrounds and strengths with employers.
- The Autism @ Work Playbook, which details how to create a supportive work environment for autistic individuals.
In addition, the MI provided other useful information in its recent D&I Roundtable on recruiting and retaining employees with neuro differences, which you can view here.
The last word: As Stassun noted, “Innovation often comes from the edges. From a human capital perspective, it’s a really exciting opportunity.”
Manufacturers Offer More Flexibility, Child Care to Workers
How can companies provide workers with the flexibility and support they seek? This question has become increasingly pressing for manufacturers as they compete in a tight labor market, and many have come up with their own innovative answers.
Recently, the Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education partner of the NAM—hosted a panel with leaders from Toyota, Cornerstone Building Brands, Pioneer Service Inc. and 3M about the child care benefits they offer and how they are reconceiving flexibility.
Child care: The companies provide a variety of different services to their team members, according to the speakers, to account for varying needs.
- Toyota offers a comprehensive suite of services that includes onsite child care at select locations, emergency backup care, tutoring and counseling services.
Flexible options: Though these manufacturers run complex operations, they are increasingly empowering workers to shape their own days. For example:
- At Cornerstone, office workers come into the office one day a week on the same day. Hourly workers are also offered flexibility—they can take part-time shifts in nonstandard times.
- 3M’s “Work Your Way” program is a trust-based system that allows nonproduction employees to designate the way they want to work, whether that’s in person, remote or hybrid. 3M is considering expanding the program to individuals working in laboratories and on the production floor.
- Pioneer emphasizes cross-training to increase flexibility for all their workers. By training more employees on critical skills, employees can take time off or work more flexible schedules because they now have coverage.
Where to start: For other manufacturers looking to provide similar options to their own workers, the panelists had some practical advice.
- When setting up a child care program, Toyota Vice President of Corporate Shared Services Denita Wilhoit says, “You need to consider three points. Find a good partner who knows the area. Investigate what resources may be available in the state where you’re implementing the program. Be aware of the risks.”
- “Outsourcing your needs is an important avenue. Creating a resource center is key. Listen and talk to your employees, and engage them through employee resource groups,” said Denise Rutherford, former chief corporate affairs officer and senior vice president at 3M (retired).
The big picture: Implementing programs and services like these will have huge payoffs, not only for individual workers and companies but also for the industry as a whole.
- In a recent study released by the MI, women cited the lack of flexibility (63.1%) and the lack of child care support (49.2%) as their top challenges, according to company leaders.
- Meanwhile, women currently make up only 29% of the manufacturing workforce. If the industry increased that share to 35%, manufacturers could fill the 746,000 job vacancies open today, according to the study.
The last word: Conversations around child care and flexibility signal seismic shifts in the way manufacturers develop and support their workforce. As Rutherford noted, “There is a transformation afoot.”
Creators Wanted Gets Big Results
With a skills gap and misperceptions about modern manufacturing threatening to leave millions of manufacturing jobs unfilled by 2030, Creators Wanted, a campaign by the NAM and the Manufacturing Institute, stepped in. Now, it is seeing eye-popping results as it works to inspire 600,000 new manufacturers by 2025.
Connecting with communities: From July through November of this year, Creators Wanted continued to take its tour to communities across the country, offering potential manufacturers, career influencers and community leaders an exciting opportunity to learn about modern industry. Stops included Midland, Michigan; Nashville/White House, Tennessee; West Columbia, South Carolina; Decatur, Illinois; and Chicago, Illinois.
Promoting knowledge: These latest stops have bolstered the tour’s overall reach. As of this month, the tour has brought 7,900 students through its immersive experience and motivated 840,000 students and potential career mentors—including parents and educators—to sign up online to learn more about manufacturing careers.
- “Our propriety algorithm for directing our campaign’s content to potential future manufacturers continues to get even more effective as we engage more people,” said NAM Managing Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas.
- “We’ve added more than 500,000 people to our email network since only September, giving the industry a powerful tool to reengage important audiences in building the future workforce.”
Changing minds: Creators Wanted is focused on exposing students, parents and teachers to the reality of modern manufacturing to challenge outdated notions and encourage young people to see manufacturing as a potential career.
- Approximately 75%of people who have participated in the tour reported that they left the experience with a significantly improved view of modern manufacturing careers.
Getting the word out: In addition, Creators Wanted has generated approximately $5 million in positive earned media about the campaign and modern manufacturing careers—ensuring that people across the country gained greater awareness of the campaign’s resources and significant need for talent in manufacturing.
Building on progress: These results build on the sustained workforce solutions of the MI, the workforce development and education partner of the NAM, which runs programs geared toward women, veterans and underrepresented communities.
- The MI and Deloitte report that positive perception of manufacturing careers among parents has soared from 27% when the tour started to 40% today—closing in on the goal of 50% by 2025.
The road ahead: The campaign will soon deploy additional resources for job seekers and students at CreatorsWanted.org, in partnership with FactoryFix, the official recruiting partner of the campaign. Find out more about the Creators Wanted campaign here.