Cornerstone Building Brands Creates a Diverse, Inclusive Workplace
To Carol Enneking, creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is less of a race to a finish line than an ongoing expedition that never really ends.
A journey: “Realizing a workplace culture where DE&I is not just prioritized but celebrated was a critical aspiration,” said Enneking, Cornerstone Building Brands’ vice president of talent management, learning and diversity. “It’s a journey to get there, but not a destination where you will ever arrive to stay. You expect your workplace to evolve as highly diverse and inclusive, but you can always do more,” she said.
Taking action: Cornerstone Building Brands, a leading manufacturer of exterior commercial and residential building products, has been taking decisive actions to increase diversity and inclusion since the company’s inception in 2018. Extra focus has been given to its DE&I strategy since 2020, shortly after the murder of George Floyd, when the company began activating its DE&I commitment with employees.
- “I spent a great deal of time on this in 2020,” Enneking said. “We had a group of executives that mobilized to provide a [company] response. It was a bit of a new frontier for us, especially as a new company, deciding to speak up and send a message about this. We worked hard to set the right tone.”
- It also became clear that a more focused DE&I approach would help the company in these situations and in the day-to-day creation of an inclusive culture.
- Now, the business has a DE&I team at the ready to drive their strategy forward: its DE&I Council, which meets monthly and focuses on strategic alignment; communications; coaching and training; and metrics and governance.
More diversity in management: Cornerstone Building Brands aspires to build a more diverse and inclusive organization that reflects the diversity of the communities where it operates. It is also focused on increasing the number of diverse employees in Cornerstone Building Brands’ management teams.
- “We have a very diverse frontline population,” Enneking said. “It’s close to 50% frontline employees of color and about 28% women, but we see those numbers decrease in management. The challenge is to bring that same representation into the management.”
- To engage employees in creating an inclusive culture, the DE&I Council disseminated a survey that led to the creation of four distinct employee resource groups: Women!, Patriots, Pride and Unity. All meet regularly to learn together, plan events, address specific employee concerns and foster mentoring opportunities.
- Another way forward has been the company’s 2021 signing of the NAM’s Pledge for Action, in which “manufacturers commit to taking 50,000 tangible actions to increase equity and parity for underrepresented communities, creating 300,000 pathways to job opportunities for Black people and all people of color.” In the first year after signing this pledge, Cornerstone Building Brands took 44 tangible actions toward achieving its commitment to the pledge and its broader DE&I goals.
How far they’ve come: All of Cornerstone Building Brands job descriptions now contain a DE&I statement that highlights its commitment, and the company recently published its first environmental, social and governance report, which included DE&I initiative details.
- Cornerstone Building Brands has worked to ensure that its “recruitment processes are bringing in diverse candidates” and that there is pay-scale parity, particularly in direct manufacturing roles, Enneking said.
- The company also has a reporting mechanism in place for all employees to make leadership aware of potential inclusivity violations or other issues.
- In addition, the manufacturer has instituted manager and employee DE&I learning modules, which comprise unconscious bias and inclusive leadership training led by professional facilitators, as well as accountability measures.
Making an impact: The work has started to pay off, said Enneking, who added that “there has been an increase” in diverse representation among Cornerstone Building Brands’ management. President and CEO Rose Lee, the first Korean American woman to head a Fortune 1000 company, was recently named a Pinnacle Award recipient by the Asian American Business Development Center. The company also recently hired two new female business unit presidents.
- The company has also broadened its search parameters in recruiting, Enneking said. “Diversity has many facets, many of which are not visible. We value diversity of thought and perspectives and are more willing to bring in people who may not have been in [our industry] all their lives but who can learn quickly and have transferable skills. In fact, those hires usually bring us a lot of ideas that we didn’t have. Sometimes you need to look outside to get those.”
Manufacturers Urge Swift Resolution to Ongoing Rail Negotiations
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement as negotiators work to reach an agreement between Class I railroads and all labor unions representing the freight rail workforce. Several organizations have not yet ratified the deal tentatively agreed to by union leadership and rail industry representatives in September that delayed the possibility of a strike.
“Manufacturers are urging congressional leaders to be prepared to bring stability and predictability to the economy if a rail strike and shutdown occurs. We already face economic turmoil with rising costs, product shortages and high inflation. Any nationwide rail strike or shutdown will cause even more economic pain. Manufacturers urge all parties to work rapidly—for the good of the country—to conclude this collective bargaining process.”
Background: A rail strike could begin as soon as 12:01 a.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 19. Currently, the majority of the unions representing the rail workers have agreed to extend that deadline to Friday, Dec. 9, though a unanimous decision to maintain the status quo is required for that extension.
On Thursday, Oct. 27, the NAM joined hundreds of other associations in calling on President Biden to ensure a swift resolution and reiterating support for the work of the Presidential Emergency Board, which has aided in the talks.
Currently, the American freight rail network accounts for nearly 40% of total freight volume, and a strike or delay in finalizing a long-term contract would have devastating impacts across surface supply chain networks and economic output.
The National Association of Manufacturers 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 12.9 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 58% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.
Phoenix Closures Invests in Diversity and Inclusion
Manufacturers come from many different communities and backgrounds—and Phoenix Closures, a sixth-generation, family-owned business that makes packaging and closures, wants to make sure that all of them feel welcome in the industry. In the past few years, the company has created a D&I initiative that ensures their employees feel included in and excited about the place where they work.
Getting the ball rolling: The company began by installing a leader to oversee their D&I efforts and combine programming and support into one place. Vice President of Quality and Corporate Social Responsibility Meena Banasiak—a 2020 honoree at the Women MAKE Awards, formerly known as the STEP Ahead Awards—sees her role not only as that of a leader, but as proof of Phoenix’s commitment.
- “I’m part of our progress in terms of D&I at Phoenix,” said Banasiak. “This position I am in was created in order to have someone in the role to establish a framework for corporate social responsibility. This position had never previously existed.”
- “We knew as a business that we were in many ways doing a lot of things that would fall within a D&I program, but without that clear purpose and intention and definitive resources put behind it.”
- “So, in a very visible and important way, I had the opportunity to be in a position of leadership and join the executive staff as a woman of color and set the course for the nature of this work that we
’ve been pursuing.”
Developing programs: The company has created and implemented a range of initiatives that allow employees to connect and contribute.
CSR committee: Phoenix developed an employee resource group that is focused on corporate social responsibility and includes representation from all the company’s operating locations. Employees are encouraged to voice their ideas on the types of programs that could be offered to the workforce, and the group offers tools and resources to help members implement programs at their respective sites.
- “It’s great to have a way to give people that voice, to make the work environment something
- that enables us to feel more included,” said Banasiak. “Yes, we’re here to do good work, but we might just be able to have fun while we’re doing it! We want our employees to feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work if they want to and develop more profound relationships in the process.”
Parental leave: The company has expanded its parental leave benefits. Today, all full-time employees are eligible for the program, and the benefit applies to the non-birthing parent as well—including in cases of adoption.
- “There are people who have been able to take advantage of it right away—and just hearing their personal story, and their sense of relief knowing they have this support from their company—it’s unfettered relief,” said Banasiak. “It goes a very long way toward cementing the relationship between employer and employee, when you feel like your employer is invested in you.”
Volunteer time off: Phoenix’s full-time employees are encouraged to take up to eight hours of paid time off per calendar year to volunteer with the charitable organization of their choice—either individually, or as part of a team.
- “There have been a few different events where a group of employees have gone together, so it simultaneously serves as a teambuilding exercise with a broader impact,” said Banasiak. “At the same time, we get to share the stories of these experiences and celebrate those organizations that our employees find meaningful to them. Excitement breeds further excitement.”
Pledge for Action: Phoenix was a signatory of the NAM’s Pledge for Action, which committed the manufacturing industry to taking 50,000 tangible actions to increase equity and parity for underrepresented communities, creating 300,000 pathways to job opportunities for Black people and all people of color, and reflecting the diversity of the overall U.S. workforce by 2030.
Starting small: According to Banasiak, it’s important to be sensitive to needs across the entire company, but also to create small forums where employees can feel comfortable discussing issues. By empowering employees to come forward with ideas, a company can unleash the creativity, energy and enthusiasm of a diverse workforce.
Building the habit: “At first you might be in a place that feels more performative rather than substantive, but it’s still a legitimate starting point,” said Banasiak.
- “We never before made an intentional effort to acknowledge Hispanic Heritage Month or Black History Month. By now, our employees are creating and hosting their own events—but before that, our first step was literally a single email to the organization.”
- “I’d argue that first step is every bit as necessary and valid on this journey. Just making that conscious effort—that’s going to be meaningful to someone. It’s necessary to build that habit in small ways to create an environment where ideas start to flow. The motivation builds upon itself, but you have to start somewhere.”
The bottom line: “Results are not instantaneous or something that one person can achieve,” said Banasiak. “It’s about slowly shifting the narrative.”
A Small Manufacturer on What Policymakers Can Do for Her Company
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Courtney Silver runs a precision machining company that has been in business for 75 years, so she knows how fast the manufacturing industry evolves. The Ketchie, Inc., president, who serves as the vice chair of the NAM’s Small and Medium Manufacturers Group, has a clear message for policymakers and manufacturers alike.
- To stay competitive, “manufacturers must have policies that incentivize us to save for emergencies, like pandemics, and to use profits productively to invest in machines, technologies and people,” she says.
- “Small manufacturers know what to do, to invest our profits and grow”—and policymakers should let them get on with it.
We caught up with Silver earlier this fall and chatted about her plans for Ketchie, the policies that would support manufacturers’ competitiveness and more.
The history: Seventy-five years ago, her late husband’s grandfather came home from World War II to work in a local textile mill, Silver tells us.
- The former Air Force captain quickly observed that local manufacturers needed a “job shop” to provide precision machined solutions. In 1947, he founded the company.
- Since then, and through many upgrades in technology, the business has grown considerably. It now supports several industries, including “textile, rail, heavy machinery, agriculture and industrial equipment,” says Silver.
In the family: Silver joined the business in 2008, then took over as president after her husband passed away in 2014. Through all her years there, she says, “investing in the lives of the people I work with and providing them with opportunities to develop and grow their God-given talents has been what matters the most” to her.
- That dedication spills outward into the community. Silver and the company are deeply invested in their work with the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute, numerous local schools, the local Boys & Girls Club and the Cooperative Christian Ministries.
What do small manufacturers need? To help small manufacturers stay competitive and keep contributing to their communities, “we need a tax structure that works for us,” says Silver.
- The 2017 tax reform law benefited Ketchie by allowing large manufacturers to expand, meaning they had more orders for Ketchie. The company was able to hire more workers as well as provide raises and bonuses.
- However, small manufacturers need further support from policymakers, according to Silver. “Smaller manufacturers have access to less capital,” she explains, so they must often use their profits for crucial short-term investments, like new equipment.
- But they also need help from policymakers for longer-term efforts, such as saving for emergencies (including pandemics) and using their profits to aggressively attract and retain a high-quality workforce.
The absence of a tax structure that supports all these endeavors together “hinders innovation and growth and limits our ability to compete,” Silver points out.
A promising future: When asked how new technologies are helping small manufacturers innovate, Silver responds enthusiastically: “That’s why I love the industry so much—the machining technology is transformational for small businesses in our industry.”
- Ketchie has kept up with the latest innovations throughout its history. Back in the 1980s, that meant purchasing its first CNC (computer numerical control) machines for more efficient, precise machining.
- Today, it’s automation. The company’s first machine-tending collaborative robot will debut on the factory floor in November, taking over machinists’ “least favorite” part of the job—changing parts while the machines run. The robot will free up workers for more challenging and skilled work around the shop, as well as dramatically increase productivity by running unattended after shift hours, Silver says.
- Technology has “opened up” manufacturing, as she puts it. Automation, 3D printing, additive machining and more have “sped up the lifecycle from the idea to the finished part.”
People first: Technology may be evolving rapidly, but the need for a high-quality workforce remains the same. When asked about her plans for Ketchie’s future, Silver says that “the number-one challenge, again and again, is workforce.”
- Silver aspires to strengthen Ketchie’s community outreach by teaching semester-long classes in the shop for high school students, which will include mentorships and a character development curriculum along with job shadowing on the shop floor.
- Ketchie also plans to continue its leadership role in its community as an active member of the school program board, and by continuing to open its doors to tours, interns and apprentices.
- “Making these long-term investments in our youth, in our industry and in our team is foundational to who we are, and we are thankful for all of the opportunities to help shape our future workforce in manufacturing,” says Silver.
The next generation: For the president of a family company, this question must be inevitable: Will Silver’s children run the business, too?
- “Time will tell for sure. They both show strong leadership qualities and are interested in what we are accomplishing at Ketchie. My son has a lot of fun with a 3D printer at home, and my daughter already has excellent problem-solving skills. It’s going to be interesting to see!”
At the NAM: About her work at the NAM, Silver says, “I want to see a genuine opportunity for small and medium manufacturers to grow, thrive and successfully compete.”
- “Each SMM member should feel truly valued and know they have a place at the NAM. Their story, and what they do every day, matters to manufacturing in America.”
Timmons Talks Energy and Workforce in Michigan
At a time of economic uncertainty, policy leaders must support energy and workforce development initiatives that can bolster the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry. This week, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons traveled to Detroit, Michigan, to share that message at Oakland Community College’s campus in Auburn Hills. The Detroit Economic Club hosted the event.
- The NAM recently released an updated version of its policy blueprint, “Competing to Win,” which Timmons referenced in his remarks.
Energy: Timmons noted that access to abundant energy is a national security issue, especially in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and highlighted manufacturers’ all-of-the-above energy strategy. He also laid out some of the key policies that will help achieve manufacturers’ goals.
- Timmons argued in favor of permitting reform; removing regulatory barriers; promoting reasonable access to federal lands; deploying energy-efficient technology at home and around the world; expediting processes for exporting energy technologies; rejecting new taxes on energy manufacturers; and fixing the tax code to preserve full expensing for equipment and 100% full expensing for research and development.
Workforce: Timmons spoke to the need for new talent in the manufacturing industry and called on young people to be a part of manufacturing’s future. He also laid out the NAM’s workforce policy agenda.
- Timmons advocated for expanding the Pell Grant program to include accelerated education for in-demand skills; increasing the level of tax-exempt educational assistance from employers; investing in apprenticeship models; and fixing the broken immigration system to alleviate visa backlogs, bring employer-based immigrants to the United States and provide certainty for Dreamers.
Our approach: “Americans want practical solutions,” said Timmons. “They don’t want to have to choose between the extremes. They don’t want to punish businesses for being successful any more than they want to punish businesses for being good citizens. So, in this season of campaigns, manufacturers have our own campaign to run. It is a campaign for a manufacturing competitiveness agenda, for restoring faith in what’s possible.”
The bottom line: “Since America’s founding, manufacturers have led amid pandemics and disasters, through wars and recessions, during peace and prosperity,” said Timmons. “And we will keep leading for centuries to come, staying true to the values that have made America exceptional and kept manufacturing strong: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.”
In case you missed it: Timmons has been on the road promoting manufacturers’ priorities and the NAM’s competitiveness agenda to leaders across the country. You can catch up on his earlier speeches in Phoenix, Arizona, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Timmons Lays Out Manufacturing Priorities
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons is on a barnstorming tour of the U.S., to raise more support among leaders for addressing supply chain challenges, creating more manufacturing jobs and making the country more resilient. He brought this message to the 2022 Arizona Manufacturing Summit in Phoenix, Arizona, yesterday.
Manufacturing’s strength: “I’m pleased to report that manufacturers are shattering expectations across the United States,” said Timmons. “Here’s one encouraging fact: manufacturers have now recovered all the jobs the industry lost at the start of the pandemic—and then some. There are more than 12.8 million people working in manufacturing… And that’s because we’re doing what we’ve always done. We’re solving problems, we’re innovating and leading into the future.”
Challenges ahead: “Inflation has reached the highest level in decades,” said Timmons. “Supply chains are still strained, making it harder to move resources and products. Global instability—especially Russia’s war on Ukraine—shows us it’s more important than ever that we secure domestic energy supplies.”
- “We’re facing a workforce crisis, with less than six job seekers for every ten jobs in America. And almost 70% of Americans today say the country is on the wrong track. Now, we’ve seen some moments of historic bipartisan action in Washington … But there is so much more to be done.”
Competing to Win: Timmons pointed to the NAM’s policy roadmap, “Competing to Win,” which offers an agenda for manufacturing competitiveness on issues including the following:
- Taxes: “We need U.S. tax policy to keep up and encourage more industrial investment here,” said Timmons. “So, we’re calling for making the 20% deduction for pass-through income permanent—and expanding it. The small and medium-sized businesses here deserve confidence that they won’t lose that all-important tool. And we need to fix provisions of the tax law that are making R&D and capital investment more expensive starting this tax year.”
- Trade: “While we’re working on tax policy here at home, we also need to expand opportunities to sell our products overseas,” said Timmons. “Exports are part of our industry’s lifeblood. That means policymakers should hold countries accountable for practices that harm manufacturers in the U.S. We should continue pursuing cutting-edge trade deals, while ensuring that the agreements already in place are delivering for our industry. And we should reject policies at international bodies like the World Trade Organization that would take away intellectual property rights.”
- Immigration: “We need Congress to fix the broken, unreliable immigration system,” said Timmons. “Clearly, we need border security, and we need more avenues for people to come legally and work. It’s critical to our economic competitiveness—and consistent with our values.”
The way forward: “It can be disheartening to know that so many Americans don’t believe the country is on the right track,” said Timmons. “But a focus on policy—getting things done, rather than blaming each other—can change that. And manufacturers are positioned to lead. The work we do to create jobs and to improve the quality of life is essential, and we can’t let up. We won’t let up.”
Creators Wanted “Lends a Helping Hand” in S.C.
Last week was a milestone for the Creators Wanted Tour—it marked the first time the nationwide initiative returned to a community and got to see how perceptions of manufacturing had changed since its first visit.
Welcome back: The Creators Wanted Tour, a joint venture of the NAM and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute, returned to host and champion sponsor Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation in West Columbia, South Carolina, in the 11th stop of the roadshow, which took place Oct. 4–7.
Happy MFG Day! On MFG Day, Oct. 7, Creators Wanted campaign co-chair Lou Kennedy, president, CEO and owner of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, and her team hosted the tour stop’s premier event at its new Nephron Nitrile Glove Factory. The 426,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open next month and will produce nitrile gloves used in hospitals and sterile rooms globally.
- The protective-glove shortage in the U.S. during the pandemic inspired Kennedy to build the factory, which is set to produce 2 million gloves a year at full capacity.
- South Carolina legislators from both sides of the political aisle were on hand for a tour of the site. House Democratic Majority Whip James Clyburn and Republican Reps. Joe Wilson and Jeff Duncan joined hundreds of local students, educators, community leaders and manufacturers to view and learn more about the campaign and its resources.
Ready for the “boom”: “There is a manufacturing boom taking place all over the country,” Majority Whip Clyburn said. “We’ve got to focus on getting these young people prepared” for manufacturing careers.
- As Rep. Wilson said, “The opportunities for manufacturing just can’t be better.”
- “401(k), great salary—average wage of 75 to 80K—clean and beautiful working conditions and hard work with a lot of fun,” Kennedy said of jobs at Nephron, while extolling opportunities at modern manufacturers across the state and in nearby communities.
- Major Creators Wanted supporters Honda and Trane Technologies also have operations in the Palmetto State, and several other campaign sponsors, including Chroma Color Corporation, are within a short distance of West Columbia.
More career guidance: Students seeking tailored advice about their professional futures got it from representatives of FactoryFix, official recruiting partner of Creators Wanted, who were on hand to meet and coach job seekers.
- South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan, whose organization is a tour partner, was on site with his team to give students information on manufacturing opportunities in South Carolina.
- On Friday, Creators Wanted sponsor Autos Drive America had an exhibit showing attendees the types of vehicles being manufactured in South Carolina.
Women in manufacturing: During a “fireside chat” panel on the tour stop, Kennedy was joined by Autos Drive America President and CEO Jennifer Safavian and MI President Carolyn Lee to discuss the importance of advancing more women in manufacturing.
- “Growing up here in the deep south 20, 30 years ago, we were supposed to be teachers or … nurses; we weren’t supposed to be pharma CEOs,” Kennedy said. “And so, my goal is to help every young lady be what she wants to be, even if it’s the nontraditional career path. … If you want to be a super-genius chemist, you can do that. If you want to be a super-genius engineer, you can do that.”
- Echoed Safavian, “I think the message [of Creators Wanted] is, ‘Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to try something. For women especially, this is a terrific opportunity. … A lot of people think manufacturing is dark, dirty, dangerous. It is not. … it is the complete opposite.”
Calling all veterans: Modern manufacturing is also a natural fit for those who have been in the military, speakers told the audience during another panel discussion.
- “I started at Nephron as a senior system analyst, and throughout my career everything that I was faced with at Nephron I’d already seen in the military,” said Air Force veteran Eric Jackson, now a senior IT security analyst at Nephron. “So, I think the [military] training … is what prepared me for this job.”
The reach: The South Columbia 2022 tour stop, made possible by additional support from Dow, Honda and Nephron Pharmaceuticals, was a record breaker.
- More than 700 students from 13 schools—most located in traditionally underrepresented communities—participated in the tour stop’s events. Last year, those numbers were 500 and seven, respectively.
- This year’s West Columbia email signups—people wishing to learn more about manufacturing careers—brought Creators Wanted’s total signups to more than 520,000.
The last word: The tour stop may have been best summarized by one young student who attended the events. “Creators Wanted,” she said, “is a helping hand.”
Manufacturers Unveil Competitiveness Agenda Ahead of Midterm Elections
“Competing to Win” offers a path for bringing the country together around policies, shared values and a unified purpose
Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the midterm elections, the National Association of Manufacturers released its policy roadmap, “Competing to Win,” a comprehensive blueprint featuring immediate solutions for bolstering manufacturers’ competitiveness. It is also a roadmap for policymakers on the laws and regulations needed to strengthen the manufacturing industry in the months and years ahead.
With the country facing rising prices, snarled supply chains and geopolitical turmoil, manufacturers are outlining an actionable competitiveness agenda that Americans across the political spectrum can support. “Competing to Win” includes the policies manufacturers in America will need in place to continue driving the country forward.
“‘Competing to Win’ offers a path for bringing our country together around policies, shared values and a unified purpose,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “The NAM is putting forward a plan filled with ideas that policymakers could pursue immediately, including solutions to urgent problems, such as energy security, immigration reform, supply chain disruptions, the ongoing workforce shortage and more. Manufacturers have shown incredible resilience through difficult times, employing more workers now than before the pandemic, but continued resilience is not guaranteed without the policies that are critical to the state of manufacturing in America.”
The NAM and its members will leverage “Competing to Win” to shape policy debates ahead of the midterm elections, in the remainder of the 117th Congress and at the start of the 118th Congress—including in direct engagement with lawmakers, for grassroots activity, across traditional and digital media and through events in key states and districts as we did following the initial rollout of the roadmap in 2016.
The document focuses on 12 areas of action, and all policies are rooted in the values that have made America exceptional and keep manufacturing strong: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.
Learn more about how manufacturers are leading and about the industry’s competitiveness agenda at nam.org/competing-to-win.
The National Association of Manufacturers 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 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org
Pfizer’s Refugee Hiring Program Changes Lives
As Mona Babury tells it, Pfizer’s refugee hiring program was born out of the basic human need to connect during a time of shared anguish.
Wanting to help: Last August, Babury, the pharmaceutical company’s director of global diversity, equity and inclusion, was horrified by news coverage of the Taliban taking over Afghanistan and refugees fleeing.
- Babury’s husband had fled Afghanistan for the United States with his family at the age of 5, some 40 years before, so she had a personal connection to the events unfolding.
- She felt an urge to talk to someone who would understand, so she turned to Pfizer Executive Vice President and Chief People Experience Officer Payal Sahni, also a former Afghan refugee. In the course of their conversation, an idea popped into Babury’s head.
Lightbulb moment: “I said, ‘Why don’t we create a refugee hiring program? It will give [refugees] a glimmer of hope when they’re coming here with just the clothes on their backs,’” Babury recalled. “Within minutes, she responded, ‘Go for it.’”
Making it a reality: Pfizer, which had close to 1,000 job openings it was looking to fill, had never created a refugee hiring program before. “We didn’t have a playbook,” Babury said.
- The team decided to research similar initiatives, and in doing so contacted The Tent Partnership for Refugees, a nonprofit organization established by Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya to help businesses hire and train refugees.
- Thanks to Tent’s help, Pfizer’s Refugee Leadership Initiative was launched in mere days, with Babury named as its leader.
- Its goal? Hire a minimum of 100 refugees by the end of 2022 and provide mentorship opportunities to an additional 150—with 50 of these opportunities earmarked for LGBTQ+ refugees.
Following through: In less than a year, the initiative is well on its way to reaching its goal—having hired 68 refugees so far. The enthusiasm from Pfizer’s workforce has been immediate and widespread.
- After sending an email announcing the program globally, “we had 300 colleagues email back [within a few hours] saying they wanted to volunteer, to support us in any way they could,” said Babury.
- At Pfizer’s Kalamazoo, Michigan, facility, where the initiative has been most successful, “one [team] leader took this very personally,” hiring 18 Afghan refugees since the beginning of 2022, said Babury. In partnership with a local refugee agency, he has also made “a commitment to continue to further ramp up hiring efforts.” (Learn more here.)
Going above and beyond: Pfizer, which now works directly with the not-for-profit humanitarian organizations Tent for Refugees, Welcome.US, the International Rescue Committee and eight other resettlement agencies to source and hire refugees, does more than extend job offers.
- Though the new employees do not require sponsorship to work in the United States, owing to their refugee status, they do need help restarting their lives. Pfizer provides up-front bonuses to help cover the costs of transportation to and from work and to help them obtain driver’s licenses.
A winning formula: Seeking out refugees as employees can be an enormously rewarding sourcing strategy for a manufacturing company, Babury said.
- “The knowledge curve might be a little [steeper], but in the end, there’s so much data that shows refugee hiring pays off immensely,” she said. “They’re very hardworking, loyal and thankful for the opportunity to enter a new workforce.”
A proud moment: “I am so proud of the incredible progress we have made in support of this important and impactful initiative,” said Pfizer Chief Global Supply Officer Mike McDermott. Pfizer Global Supply, Pfizer’s manufacturing and supply organization, has hired the most refugees at Pfizer to date.
- “Our smart, talented and dedicated new colleagues are already making a difference. We welcome their fresh perspectives and have been motivated by their pride and passion,” he continued.
- “I’d also like to recognize our PGS colleagues for welcoming these new teammates with open arms, supporting them both professionally and personally,” he added. “Everyone deserves a fresh start, and we consider it an honor and a privilege to play a role in the new chapters for these refugees and their families.”
Success stories: The backgrounds of many of the recent hires are as impressive as they are diverse.
- The very first refugee hire, a man named Afzal Afzali, had been working for the U.S. embassy and the American University of Afghanistan when the Taliban seized control last summer. “He had to make a decision to escape within a few hours of the invasion,” according to Babury. “On his way out, he rescued four unaccompanied children protected by the U.S. government and reunited them with their mother in the United States.”
- Afzali, who now lives with his family in Texas and works at Pfizer in procurement, told the company the new job has led him to finding his “life’s purpose in serving others … likewise, Pfizer is all about breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.”
- Another new employee had previously worked with the Afghan president. She is now a senior associate on Babury’s team. She was recruited through the Pfizer Refugee Leadership Initiative Mentorship program.
The last word: Seeing the success of these new employees energizes those around them, said Babury.
- “The leader at our Kalamazoo site will speak to you with such a light in his eyes about how … once these hires have a job, they don’t consider themselves refugees anymore. They’re people with jobs. They have a way to take care of their families. There is a sense of pride among all our colleagues because of this program.”
Creators Wanted Gets Set for Fall Tour
Creators Wanted is gearing up for another season of bolstering positive perceptions of manufacturing careers and inspiring new manufacturers. Its schedule for this fall is now set—and we’re sharing it with you.
The nationwide tour, a joint project of the NAM and its workforce development and education partner The Manufacturing Institute, with significant legacy funding from Dow, Honda and Trane Technologies as well as contributions from more than 70 manufacturing companies, will stop in Nashville, Tennessee, on Sept. 27–29.
- The tour features an award-winning mobile immersive experience, to help students, emerging workers, parents and other career mentors learn and get excited about opportunities in modern manufacturing.
- Tour stop attendees will also meet local manufacturers, interact with hands-on technology, attend presentations by stars in the industry and access resources for training and job opportunities.
Building on big impact: The MI and Deloitte have already reported that positive perception of manufacturing careers has soared from 27% when the tour started to 40% today, just shy of the goal of 50% by 2025.
- The campaign has amassed—and maintained—an email network of more than 320,000 highly engaged students and career mentors.
Destination Tennessee: The Nashville stop will be the 10th since the tour began last year.
- Hosted by Electrolux and Schneider Electric and co-presented by Robertson County Economic Development, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Tennessee Manufacturers Association and FactoryFix, the stop will take place at White House Heritage High School in the Nashville-adjacent town of White House, Tennessee.
- More than 500 students, parents, teachers and community leaders are slated to attend.
It’s good to be back! From Oct. 4 to 7, as manufacturers nationwide celebrate MFG Day 2022, Nephron Pharmaceuticals will host the second Creators Wanted tour stop this fall, in West Columbia, South Carolina. FactoryFix and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce will also participate.
- The tour visited West Columbia and Nephron last October. This year’s encore visit to the city will take place at the Nephron Nitrile Factory.
- More than 20,000 students and career mentors are expected to sign up online to learn more about modern manufacturing careers.
College visit: Next, the tour will visit Decatur, Illinois, on Oct. 24–26, for a stop that will be hosted by Caterpillar and ADM and co-presented by Illinois Manufacturing and FactoryFix.
- The events will be held at Shilling Center at Richland Community College. This third fall tour stop is expected to draw many visitors from the local community and add more than 20,000 students and career mentors to our network in Illinois.
Windy City premiere: The last stop on the Creators Wanted fall tour will be at the Rockwell Automation Fair in Chicago, on Nov. 16-17. The Creators Wanted immersive experience will be a main feature on the showroom floor at this gathering of thousands of industrial automation leaders and experts.
Learn more: Tour organizers say that there is still time to join the fall tour stop events. Interested in supporting the cause and the MI’s sustained workforce solutions? Contact Barret Kedzior at [email protected].
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.