During the Super Bowl, a commercial aired for Bumble. Serena Williams starred in the scenes and spoke these lines, “If I waited to be invited in, I never would have stood out. If I waited for change to happen, I never would’ve made a difference. So, make the first move. Don’t wait to be told your place. Take it.” The site promotes women making the first move in friendships, dating, and business. Women making the first move in business is where I want to focus.
As women, it is our time to strike. Companies are floundering to improve on Diversity and Inclusion. We are a part of this movement. My entire career, 22 years, has been within the manufacturing industry. Early in my career, the lack of diversity in manufacturing was apparent but not a concern. I thought that business was always about hiring the right person and about being the best employee. I still believe this but lately I have been more sensitive to the lack of diversity. With our unemployment rate at 4%, the lowest in 10 years, I find that hiring has become more difficult. (1) If manufacturing is not able to engage a larger population, then we are not capitalizing on all the capable and talented employees possible. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women are under-represented in manufacturing roles. Women represent ~50% of the population, but in manufacturing women represent:
26.7% – production, transportation, & material moving (2)
28.0% – management, business, science, & arts (2)
Even inside the 50+ person team I manage, we only have five women.
For women, “Don’t wait to be told your place. Take it.” Manufacturing is exciting and interesting. The thrill of knowing you are a part of making a product is exciting. The cross-functional team can only be described as interesting. For those of us in manufacturing, consider mentoring women that show interest. My thoughts to consider as a female mentor:
- Find a common interest. Build a relationship through trust and connectivity.
- Find her inner individual. Be intrigued by the unique qualities and gift of hers and help her use the gift to have a productive and successful career.
- Encourage her to make a move. During this move, provide support through some of the situations that may not be common outside a manufacturing environment.
Mentoring can be time consuming, but common interests can hold together the drive to make time. Enable, support, empower, and celebrate a woman to Take her place.