The Manufacturing Institute has announced its newest cohort of extraordinary female leaders in manufacturing: the 130 Honorees of the 2021 STEP Ahead Awards. On Nov. 4, the MI will recognize their achievements at an in-person gala in Washington, D.C.
An industry-wide honor: These yearly awards, part of the MI’s STEP Women’s Initiative, recognize women in manufacturing who exemplify excellence from the factory floor to the C-suite.
- To date, the awards have honored 932 exceptional women, and the winners have made an impact—through mentoring, programs and events and more—on 300,000 people, from industry peers to kids in school.
The whole initiative: The STEP (science, technology, engineering and production) Women’s Initiative consists of the STEP Ahead Awards, a professional leadership-development program and regional STEP Forward events that take place throughout the year. It aims to boost women’s representation in manufacturing and support the next generation of female talent.
Why it matters: Women make up close to half the U.S. labor force, yet they account for less than one-third of the manufacturing workforce. Meanwhile, the biggest challenge for manufacturers has long been the lack of skilled workers available to fill open jobs. By employing 10% more women, manufacturers can bridge the skills gap by 50%.
What they’re saying: “Women in manufacturing proved themselves time and time again during the pandemic, driving innovation and progress, and they are now helping our industry build the next, post-pandemic world,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee.
- “As an industry, we are always working to do more to bring more women into manufacturing and encourage their innovative ideas and transformative leadership,” added 2021 STEP Ahead Chair and Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President and Chief Global Supply Chain Officer Kathy Wengel.
- “The creativity, commitment and passion displayed by each of these women leaders and rising stars drive innovation in our industry forward,” said 2021 STEP Ahead Vice Chair and 3M Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Denise Rutherford.
. . . and don’t forget, creators are wanted: The NAM and MI’s Creators Wanted project, which aims to close the skills gap and get many more people into manufacturing, will help fund the MI’s workforce-development efforts, including STEP. A full half of the funds raised (which will total millions of dollars) will go toward supporting the MI’s programs into 2025.
Interested in becoming a STEP Ahead sponsor? See opportunities here.
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.”
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.
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.