All the tech in the world cannot erase the debilitating skills gap in manufacturing. An obvious solution is to set up a bigger tent—to markedly increase the number of people of color in manufacturing management.
To help address this issue, Smart Manufacturing assembled five experts for a roundtable on racial and ethnic diversity issues. Predictably, it found that a “divided team” in the U.S. puts manufacturers here at a disadvantage on the global stage.
In addition to outlining specific problem areas, the experts focused intently on solutions. (Read the story at: www.SME.org/inclusion )
One suggestion to help existing racially diverse employees: Consider auditing the workplace for bias.
“There is unconscious bias in manufacturing,” and it can help to “bring in an outside party to audit your organization and identify unconscious bias and other issues that you may not be aware of,” said Electro Soft CEO Karla Trotman.
One idea for racially diverse employees themselves: Get mentors.
In addition to a regular mentor, “you’ve got to have a mentor who is your boss’s boss,” said Process Intel’s Dauod Thompson. “The movement of an individual employee doesn’t always happen directly by their manager or director.”
One suggestion for recruiters: Include people of color on recruiting and selection panels, said Materion’s Allen Reid. “Everyone has bias. And people tend to have a bias toward others who look like themselves. So, it’s really important in the recruitment process to bring in people with different experiences, different backgrounds, different points of view.”
One suggestion for planning far ahead: Increase efforts to promote STEM careers to Black and brown children and foster mutually beneficial relationships in their communities. “We need to make sure we are inspiring people from all different groups” to consider careers in manufacturing, said Invent the Change CEO Jay Flores, “because you never know which one of those students is going to be the one who is going to change the world.”