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Current EAB member Marion Wells advises manufacturers to focus on recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce to combat the skills gap.

According to a National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) 2019 Q1 outlook survey, manufacturers’ top concern has been the inability to attract and retain a quality workforce. Diversity can be a solution to this concern.

By diversity, I mean considering people who you may not have considered for manufacturing positions previously (based on age, gender, race, education, abilities or disabilities, etc.) and tapping into nontraditional resources for workers who are motivated to learn manufacturing, be part of a team and grow with an industry.

Infusing diversity into your workforce must be an intentional, top-down business strategy and not a human resource program or initiative. By including diversity in your business strategy, you open the door to cultivating a new mindset with your leadership teams, which can help you find, train and retain your next new employees more quickly. For example, leadership should consider any new workforce development strategies such as implementing programs to upskill or cross-skill workers who don’t have the right background.

To get the conversation started, consider the following steps:

  1. The leader of the organization should set the tone and have a conversation with their management team that builds awareness about diversity in manufacturing and the value of a varied workforce to the future of the business.
  2. During the management meeting, leaders should encourage everyone to share any biases and perspectives to create trust for meaningful discussions, set clear goals in the business strategy to address any concerns and to establish objectives with the support of human resources.

Then consider new avenues of recruitment, such as:

  • Write your job posting more carefully to attract more diverse candidates
  • Evaluate your workforce policies to make sure they are appealing to diverse candidates
  • Use talent sourcing methods that focus on providing more diverse candidates
  • Consider using a blind hiring method by removing the candidate’s name from the application

But first, you must attract the next generation of diverse talent. So, take time to examine your culture and branding to evaluate whether or not you are presenting your business accurately and in a way that will be inviting to a diverse pool of talent.

Marion is talent optimization-certified for business and people strategy alignment.