Article: STEMming change: Crafting diversity excellence in manufacturing


STEMming change: Crafting diversity excellence in manufacturing

Within the dynamic landscape of the manufacturing industry, it's crucial to underscore the importance of diversity and inclusion, with a specific focus on empowering women. Initiatives such as STEM education, upskilling programs, and policy reforms, along with the promotion of Industry 4.0 technologies, are imperative for the industry's continued evolution.
STEMming change: Crafting diversity excellence in manufacturing

The manufacturing industry is seeing a profound change in many ways- several innovations, technologies, and policies are constantly being set in place, creating a myriad of opportunities for all. This changing landscape has allowed business leaders to inspect their operations and advance one step ahead by incorporating new-age technologies like cloud computing, robotics, automated manufacturing, IoT, and more. 

Additionally, manufacturers are looking for expert operators, engineers, data analysts, project managers, and specialists to cultivate a skilful workplace for the future, as leaders understand talent to be the key differentiator when hiring within India’s surplus candidate pool.  

To answer the burning question, “Does everyone have a shot at everything?” one must bear in mind that unfortunately, the representation of women in the manufacturing sector has been relatively low at only 26%. It is however important to acknowledge that the manufacturing industry is actively working towards creating a diverse and inclusive workplace to address this problem. 

Steps in the right direction: upskilling and reform policies

  • Schemes to provide accessible quality education through partnerships and sponsorship programs with educational institutions are on the rise. Initiatives such as distance education to bridge the skill gap at the grassroots level are being implemented to meet the evolving demands of modern manufacturing.   
  • Workplace policies are accommodating the needs of genders while empowering them with factory-based training centres, libraries, modern simulators, and resource support.
  • It is important to periodically assess every employee’s skill set and chart a monitored course of action for the future. This will not only improve employee engagement but also help every business value its assets and curate appropriate training courses best suited to everyone. 
  • With Digital twin, Edge computing, AI and ML driving Industry 4.0, data scientists, IoT architects, and cybersecurity professionals are a must-have in every manufacturing company. Employees must be offered certification opportunities in specific niches to upskill themselves.
  • A refined remuneration system is being implemented, derived from employee’s roles and qualifications to neutralize any gender bias actively.

Creating a solid intellectual foundation through STEM

An education stream that has been a major contributor to encouraging diversity in the manufacturing industry is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The heart of manufacturing lies in its science, so STEM provides the perfect opportunity for innovation-led companies to invest their time and effort for the betterment of young talent. With manufacturing industries upping their game, more women from rural areas in India are stepping into this field. Today the industry needs employees who will specialize in IT, mechatronics, design, research development, and more. 

Impact of STEM studies

STEM has an interdisciplinary approach that can inspire innovation by giving students a hands-on approach. The AISHE report 20-21 states that women outnumbered men in the Science stream, however, male candidates dominated the Engineering and Technology sector. With STEM being projected as the future of employment, it is important to encourage female aspirants from rural India to augment their chances of employment. 

Breaking the myths

Working in a factory no longer means sweating it out or doing menial jobs. Manufacturing jobs are now high-tech and require creativity and a solution-focused approach to move forward. While recruiting new talent, implementing the right HR tactics like offering benefits that will pique employee interest, implementing compensation transparency, and establishing a purposeful future for each employee is pivotal. Showcasing women-centred anecdotes will serve as a key growth driver to persuade young talented women to join the world of manufacturing. Aside from traditional positions like machinists, welders, and operators, women can also look at opportunities as design engineers, project managers, sales experts, data analysts, financial advisors, and even leadership roles. Young career-driven students are always eager to learn, and it is important to make the most of their passion to further their career in manufacturing. The STEM community serves as a pillar in manufacturing and business leaders must put in time and effort to strengthen it by providing affluent networking opportunities, and access to recent developments in AI, strategy planning, design, development, and research.  

According to McKinsey research (2015 & 2018), there is an evident correlation between greater diversity at the leadership level and financial performance benefitting the business. Rather than viewing the creation of a diverse workspace as an isolated challenge, it can be taken up as a business challenge that can be systematically resolved with the right mindset. The same principles used in manufacturing can be used here – analysing the root cause, finding a solution, and rolling it out as a proven method for others to follow.

The easiest method to implement diversification is by starting with the leadership. Every manufacturing leader must understand the data behind creating a diverse and inclusive environment. Going forward this data must be used as a base point to measure progress. Talent management goals must be set and those responsible for recruitment should be held accountable to bring about change. With India’s surplus talent, every business must remain optimistic. Change is right around the corner, and it is every leader’s responsibility to bring it home.

Read full story

Topics: Diversity, Skilling, #IndustryInsights

Did you find this story helpful?



How do you envision AI transforming your work?