Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts have a lot of payoffs: they widen talent pipelines, increase retention rates and improve business outcomes. So what are manufacturers doing to strengthen DE&I in their workplaces? A newly updated survey from the MI and Keybridge has the answers.
What it is: The MI and Keybridge conducted their inaugural DE&I benchmarking survey in October 2021, and manufacturers’ DE&I efforts have grown a lot since then. One year later, the MI and Keybridge repeated the survey, and the results are in—along with recommendations for manufacturers seeking to grow further.
A firm commitment: 72% of manufacturers agreed that improving and maintaining DE&I was a key focus for their company in 2022—and many of them have been taking tangible steps toward that goal.
- Of the 60% of companies that made public statements affirming their commitment to DE&I, most have followed through with diversity commitments, employee resource groups, donations and transparent updates on their DE&I progress.
Widening talent pools: More than 60% of respondents reported that the representation of women within their companies has increased in the past five years. Still, there were also some challenges in expanding the diversity of hiring pools.
- 50% of companies reported struggling with hiring diverse candidates, with 40% struggling with retaining diverse workers.
Where to start: Companies that have not yet taken concrete actions toward fulfilling their commitments can get started by developing a strategic plan or designating a senior leadership position for DE&I issues, the report recommended.
- Another useful tactic is setting up feedback mechanisms for employees, so the company can track its progress on DE&I.
More recommendations: For those further along, the report suggests other moves, including:
- Expand recruitment pipelines by partnering with community organizations, community colleges and technical schools to tap into more diverse pipelines.
- Update position descriptions with language that widens and diversifies the applicant pool.
- Review hiring practices to minimize bias, such as by including blinded resume reviews, standardizing interview questions and employing skills tests and panel interviews.
- Standardize the promotion processes by using the same scoring system and criteria for all employees, seeking input from multiple sources and highlighting clear career pathways.
- Standardize work assignment systems by cross-training workers, to ensure that no one employee is stuck in an undesirable role for too long.
The last word: “The labor market is historically tight, and we know the number one issue for manufacturers is workforce,” said NAM Chief Economist and Manufacturing Institute Center for Manufacturing Research Director Chad Moutray. “Focusing on DE&I is a great way to widen the net and retain the employees that you have.”