International Women’s Day: Increasing Gender Diversity in your Manufacturing Teams

International Women’s Day: Increasing Gender Diversity in your Manufacturing Teams

The importance of gender diversity in manufacturing cannot be overstated, as it fosters a dynamic and inclusive environment where diverse perspectives, talents, and experiences converge to drive progress.

Beyond representation, gender diversity in manufacturing holds the key to unlocking untapped potential, fueling creativity, and reshaping industry norms for a more progressive future.

Read our blog for information on how you can increase gender diversity in your manufacturing organisation.

What is the gender gap in UK manufacturing?

Gender stereotypes separate women and men into different occupations and economic activities. Women represent half of the labour force in the UK and account for 26% of all workers in the manufacturing sector. Women who work in the manufacturing sector earn 17% less than their male counterparts.

Women who come from non-white backgrounds and women with disabilities are one of the least represented population groups in the manufacturing industry in the UK. Women from non-white backgrounds account for 15% of the workforce, which represents just 3% of manufacturing employees. Women with disabilities (Defined in the Equality Act 2010) represented 9% of individuals in employment, they however made up for less than 1% of the manufacturing workforce.

Representation of women in UK Manufacturing occupations is markedly lower in trade occupations, with the representation being larger in administrative occupations. Let’s take a look at the percentages of women working in these roles:

  • Lower skilled trade occupations – 9%
  • Process, plant and machine operatives – 23%
  • Managers and senior officials – 23%
  • Administrative and secretarial – 70%
  • Personal services – 55%
  • Sales and customer service – 49%

The digital transformation and gender diversity in manufacturing

Due to the digital transformation and recent trends, there have been mixed effects on gender diversity in the manufacturing landscape. Over the last two decades, the manufacturing industry in the UK has changed the distribution of job roles within its workforce. Despite there being labour shortages in roles such as process, plant, machine operatives and skilled trades that men typically occupy, these positions have started to see a remarkable decrease in their share of employment in manufacturing

As there is a change in skills required by manufacturers, more opportunities are being created for women to enter the industry. We are starting to see skills such as data analysis, forward-thinking and innovation become more relevant. A growing number of women who come from various backgrounds possess these skills. This trend is increased by the interaction of the digital and environmental sustainability transition, which is making the manufacturing sector more diverse.


What can I do to Improve Gender Diversity in the Workplace?

Build an inclusive workplace.

Before you even attempt to begin to hire for gender diversity, it is important to look within your business and evaluate the culture within. Think about answering these questions:

  • Is my company a good place to work regardless of gender?
  • Does the company treat people across the gender spectrum equally?

Ask your employees what they think about the inclusivity of your workplace, and then put the effort into improving your company culture continuously. By having a more inclusive culture within your business you can help build up your employer brand, resulting in being able to attract and retain a more diverse workforce.

Write better job descriptions.

You can improve gender diversity in your organisation by removing gender biases in your job descriptions. Men will apply for roles if they are 60% qualified, whereas women will only apply for a role if they are 100% qualified.

Instead of writing job descriptions that only have a list of qualifications, think about creating performance-based job descriptions. Focus on what the successful candidate would be responsible for and what they could accomplish with your company.

It is also important to avoid using gendered language, words like champion are masculine-coded, with words like polite being feminine-coded. It is vital to rethink your job descriptions with these insights in mind so you can get that one step closer to gender diversity.

Provide your team with unconscious bias training.

Unconscious bias’ exists in all of us, whether we are aware of it or not. We must begin to recognise them to overcome them in the recruiting and hiring process. Think about the bias that first impressions can carry throughout the recruitment process.

Biases can go both ways as men are usually questioned about their interests in jobs that are dominated by women, such as teaching or human resources. To overcome hiring biases, teams should make the utmost effort to recognise them, as well as how to evaluate candidates fairly on a predetermined set of criteria.

Set a diverse group of interviewers.

Whilst you are evaluating candidates, it is important to remember that they will be evaluating you and your organisation too. Two-thirds of candidates stated that a diverse workforce is an important factor when they are evaluating companies and considering job offers.

Have both men and women in the interview, whilst also considering a tour of your business to introduce the candidate to people on your team to get that feel for the culture. By having a diverse interview panel, candidates who come from underrepresented groups will feel more comfortable, instead of feeling left out.

Learn from your exit interviews.

Exit interviews can be the most useful way to reveal specific reasons why people are leaving your organisation. By holding exit interviews you can find out ways to better attract and retain talent. If working towards gender diversity is your main aim in the workplace, you can take a look into your data to better understand the differences in why men and women are leaving your business.

By looking into data you can have insights that are specified to your company, allowing you to monitor progress over time. If you learn that women are less satisfied with compensation than men, you can look at improving your compensation strategy, ensuring that you take a look at how these perceptions change over the years.


E3R Service of Equality and Diversity

E3 Recruitment’s service of equality and diversity stands as a beacon of progress and inclusivity in today’s business landscape. Through surveying and comprehensive support, at E3R we empower our clients to not only meet but exceed their business objectives while championing equality and diversity at every step. By fostering environments where every individual is valued and respected, we not only enhance organisational effectiveness but also cultivate a culture of belonging and innovation in your organisation.

E3 Recruitment’s commitment to diversity and equality in the hiring process is integral to its core values. We prioritise creating a level playing field where individuals from all backgrounds have equal opportunities to showcase their skills and talents. We ensure that the hiring process is free from bias and discrimination, employing fair and transparent practices to evaluate candidates solely based on their qualifications, experience, and potential. Through continuous education, training, and proactive outreach, we foster an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to thrive.

4th March 2024

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