Encouraging Diversity in the UK Manufacturing Industry
In this article, we consider whether enough is being done to improve diversity in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. We will discuss where we stand in comparison to other countries and sectors, the benefits of improving, and strategies for individual businesses to improve their local working diversity.
What Does Diversity in Manufacturing Mean?
In the 21st century, a diverse workforce means supporting male, female, trans and fluid genders of different ages and races. To achieve great diversity within your business, you need to start by first becoming aware and fully understanding how to best appeal to people of different gender, age and race. For example, this may involve ensuring that younger generations can attain the skills they will need to pursue careers that rely on good education in science, maths or English.
How Do I Attain Diversity in My Business?
Encouraging diversity in your business requires you to take a step back and consider your current setting; are you employing a near-equal number of men and women, would a member from the LGBTQ+ community feel comfortable working in your environment, have you advertised your business in such a way that encourages minorities to apply for positions with you?
Remember to think of how your business looks from the outside too; if you are finding yourself using the excuse that your company’s diversity is poor because you don’t receive many applications from minorities, then it may be that they don’t perceive your company as a place that would make them feel welcome.
If your company only employs men, then that is all that your potential applicants will see, so unless you find ways to tell them that they will be accepted, they may assume that your company is selectively hiring men.
You need to encourage women and minorities in your job adverts and marketing efforts if you want to make them feel welcome, especially if they are going to be the first minority in your business.
How Do I Retain Diversity Once I’ve Hired It?
Once you’ve solved your application problem – if you had one – your next step is ensuring that they stay with your business. This means committing to making them feel welcome for the long term. To accomplish this, they are going to need someone who will listen to their needs, but most importantly, someone who they feel comfortable talking to when something needs changing.
This may be something as small as offering a dairy-free alternative in the break room, or it could be a fundamental change to their working patterns. For example, some religious minorities may need to take specific holidays. It is important both the employee and employer, to maintain excellent communication to ensure that these obstacles are successfully navigated. On the side of a new minority employee, they should give you suitable notice of any important religious holidays or issues they might face in the future where possible.
As the employer, you should encourage them that they have someone they can take these concerns to – you or another high-ranking member of staff – before issues arise. If your employee has failed to communicate some difficulties to you, ask yourself why they have found it difficult. It could be that they aren’t comfortable or feel embarrassed about their difference.
You can solve this by changing their point of contact; if you have someone from a minority in a high ranking position then they can serve as a role model for new hires – this could improve their motivation and productivity too.
Making continuous small changes can also make a big difference. Take the initiative and install an accessible or gender-neutral toilet. Offer vegetarian and vegan snacks, or engage the business in celebrations like Pride month.
What are the Benefits of Improving My Company’s Diversity?
In an article published by The Manufacturer in 2018, it was speculated that the UK has an annual shortfall of at least 20,000 engineers. Regarding solving this nationwide crisis, it is vital that we encourage a range of individuals to take up engineering, and one of the methods we should be taking to accomplish this is to improve our diversity. It’s thought that more than £11bn a year is lost in Engineering due to LGBTQ+ individuals feeling unable to be themselves at work, leading to a 30% reduction in productivity (InterEngineering 2016).
Aside from just minorities, manufacturing and engineering are still facing huge issues; simply encouraging more women to enrol in the sector would be a huge step forward. Of all engineering professionals in 2018, only 12% were women. To solve this issue, companies need to educate younger generations that they will be accepted in STEM subjects, degrees and careers. This may mean taking special care to encourage diversity in any apprenticeships or work experience that you are running.
It has been noted that businesses who gain traction in one area of diversity have an easier time improving other types of diversity too. This means that taking a step-by-step approach can be very effective and can also help with implementing attainable goals.
In an article titled, ‘The Business Benefits of Promoting Diversity and Inclusion’, it was found that businesses with a healthy gender balance are more likely to outperform their competitors, so consider the fact that perhaps you can’t afford to not be a diverse business in today’s market.
We are dedicated to providing coverage on the skills gap in manufacturing and engineering, and this includes raising awareness about how diversity can positively impact your business. If you need high-quality spring manufacturers, speak to us for more information about our products and practices.