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Reprioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives

Manufacturers must reprioritize their DEI efforts in order to acquire and retain the best talent, which will lead to enhanced employee performance and increased innovation

Workforce Q4 2022
Amid increasing recession concerns and mounting pressure from key stakeholders to mitigate supply chain disruption risks, industrial products (IP) sector leaders continue to grapple with workforce issues, leaving social commitments like DEI initiatives to fall to the back burner. These initiatives involve strategies to attract and retain a diverse workforce, implementing programs to increase inclusion, and supporting community values, all while measuring company progress for accountability along the way. With so many investors increasingly advocating for improved DEI efforts, it is no longer a nice to have, but a must. If manufacturers continue to let DEI fall to the wayside, they risk losing potential candidates who can bring creative innovation, unique perspectives, and open collaboration to help drive equitable outcomes. With all the challenges that manufacturers are currently facing, managing and improving DEI initiatives to elevate talent acquisition and retention is not something on which to lose focus.

PwC’s Managing Business Risks Pulse Survey recently found 77 percent of IP sector leaders agree that problems surrounding talent acquisition and retention pose risks to their business, and 71 percent say that supply chain woes pose either a moderate or serious risk. Despite the challenging workforce environment, most IP leaders (69 percent) describe their businesses as “very or moderately” agile in responding to the shifts in the workforce and in attracting talent. PwC’s survey found that 64 percent of IP executives are already embracing flexibility, expanding permanent remote work options for roles that allow for it in an effort to attract a more diverse talent pool. As manufacturers look to manage shifts in talent among existing supply chain woes, it is important that they reprioritize DEI efforts into their retention strategies as well, to deliver on DEI promises in ways that will build trust with their workforce and improve the employee experience.

With manufacturers taking on more ambitious business and societal goals, leaders must remember that employees can be a force multiplier or a detractor, as talent management directly impacts overall growth. Understanding workplace power in all its aspects can help leaders energize their workforce, tap into the power of their people, and accomplish bolder goals. This starts with understanding your employees’ needs and values and creating an inclusive environment for your workforce to thrive.

DEI Talent Management
When it comes to DEI in the workplace and retaining employees, compensation is a top factor. When it comes to DEI in the workplace and retaining employees, compensation is a top factor, especially given the historic increases in inflation in recent months, which are projected by many economists to continue in the year ahead. We recently found that men were more likely than women to say they’re fairly rewarded financially and were 9 percent more likely than women to say they planned to ask for a raise. Both of these findings appear to reflect longstanding problems in wealth inequity, and they highlight the need to advance not only the gender-equity agenda — in relation to pay transparency and higher female participation in the labor force — but also the need to advance DEI efforts as a whole in the industry.

Historical data shows that the manufacturing industry is a white and male-dominated field, which makes it even more difficult in trying to change its perception and attract a wider representation of diverse, female cohorts. As of 2021, the manufacturing industry still consisted of roughly 80 percent white workers and only 30 percent women in total.For manufacturers, expanding DEI initiatives will continue to become more important, as the industry continues to struggle with drawing new, diverse talent into its ranks.

IP organizations are making strides in helping to translate DEI strategy into action, though there is still work to do in the industry. As employees, customers, and investors increasingly demand that the organizations they do business with model values of equity and inclusion, organizations have invested at unprecedented rates in DEI programs, with 75 percent of IP organizations now saying it is a value or priority, according to our latest Diversity & Inclusion Survey. Despite this heightened commitment, organizations still have progress to make in designing and executing DEI programs that meet these objectives, with about a third of industrial products respondents indicating that they still view diversity as a barrier to employee progression. Similarly, nearly half of IP organizations surveyed (44 percent) view their DEI program primarily as a way to attract and retain talent, but far fewer are connecting DEI directly to responding to customer expectations or enhancing the external reputation. So, what’s causing this disconnect?

Against our DEI maturity model, 80 percent of leadership engagement on DEI remains at the basic or emerging levels. One reason to account for this dissonance between what organizations are doing versus employee perception is that organizations are failing to empower their leaders on topics of DEI. Against our DEI maturity model, 80 percent of leadership engagement on DEI remains at the basic or emerging levels, and only 6 percent of surveyed IP organizations’ DEI programs reach the highest level of maturity when assessed against the four dimensions of PwC’s DEI maturity model. A lack of knowledge on social issues that are valuable to your workforce and key stakeholders will only hinder the innovation and enhanced performance that could be achieved with increased diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Survey Reflects Need to Reprioritize DEI
Survey Reflects Need to Reprioritize DEI. Source: PwC’s Managing Business Risks Pulse Survey
DEI Measurement
Driving sustainable change requires effective monitoring efforts. Most organizations track employee demographics, but significantly fewer measure discrepancies in compensation, performance, or promotions based on these attributes.

Success cannot be measured without a clear picture of where you are now — and where you want to go. The journey begins by capturing the status of DEI programs and policies via metrics on DEI-related employee recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotions, as well as employee exits. It continues by responding coherently to the outcomes of the various programs and policies. Measuring diversity is nothing new to most organizations; however, measuring inclusion (the degree to which an employee feels valued, respected, welcome, and understood) can be a challenge.

As the conversation around measuring inclusion continues to grow in value, IP leaders need to take time to align and map out strategies for how they want to measure progress on DEI initiatives and meet employee needs around transparency. Considering employee perspective in creating benchmarks for inclusion and determining what it is that makes them feel most valued when it comes to DEI and related social issues will be key in developing strong measuring standards for accountability.

It is important that IP leaders realize that their people are the most important asset that their organization has. By holistically measuring employee demographics in addition to tracking progress on supplemental DEI goals, industrial products leaders have an opportunity to grow engagement with key stakeholders through transparency and to lower the disconnect in employee perception. Transparency is the foundation of building trust, and measuring your DEI goals, especially in an industry that historically lacks diversity in the workplace, will show your employees that you’re serious about change and following up on your commitments. With 71 percent of employees saying they’re likely to leave a company if they lose trust in their employer, it is imperative that manufacturers leverage DEI reporting tools to build trust with their employees through transparency and accountability.

Consistency Is Key
In addition to prioritizing DEI programs and measuring and tracking progress, consistency is also key. In order to maintain structure, leaders have to stay consistent with building trust. DEI success hinges on executive leadership, and IP leaders can’t afford to stand on the sidelines for these issues. By following through on DEI promises and continuing to look for new ways to improve, the industry can seek to change issues of inclusion in the workplace and attract more candidates in the future who align with company values.

It is important that IP leaders realize that their people are the most important asset that their organization has. With all of the challenges the manufacturing industry is facing, DEI is not something that can be put on hold. If IP leaders hope to remain agile in today’s shifting workforce environment, they must reprioritize and re-strategize to put employee needs first, and that starts with delivering on DEI.

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