While the plastics industry is experiencing a resurgence, one thing holding the industry back is an ongoing talent shortage. Increasing diversity can assist in narrowing the skill gap in plastics and reinforce growth. The following tips can help increase diversity in the plastics industry.
The Skill Gap
Over the past 25 years, fewer young adults have chosen to enter the plastics industry. In general, manufacturing has decreased in popularity as a career as college-aged students have favored other fields such as healthcare and technology. This has led to a labor shortage in the industry, as well as a prominent skill gap. For this reason, many manufacturers are looking to appeal to a larger pool of candidates so they can attract employees with diverse skill sets.
Start at the Top
Diversity initiatives work best when leadership shows consistent support. Making company-wide announcements regarding diversity goals and incorporating diversity into company policies are two ways that leadership can demonstrate support for diversity initiatives. Leaders play a big part in establishing the culture of a company. They can help foster a culture that is inclusive by showing values such as respect and open-mindedness. Encouraging management to participate in diversity training will also help. Mandatory training can feel like a punishment. Making the training voluntary is more likely to appeal to managers who are already interested in increasing workplace diversity.
Collecting data is essential to understand the state of the diversity of your organization and to measuring progress towards creating more diversity. Tracking the background of new hires and current employees will give you a sense of how diverse your company is. Tracking promotions and retention rates are also relevant here. For example, you may have a high level of diversity in your organization. Still, you may lack diversity in leadership positions; or you may hire diverse candidates who don’t stay for more than a year. You also want to collect data regarding inclusion, as diversity without inclusion is meaningless. For this, you need to seek out feedback from your employees to ensure all of your employees feel safe, included and engaged regardless of their background. By collecting data, you can start to see what groups are underrepresented in your company and develop an action plan to appeal to these groups during recruitment.
Diversity in the Hiring Process
Many companies rely on referral programs and word-of-mouth to fill positions. While this may be convenient, it doesn’t lend itself to increasing diversity because people tend to associate with others with whom they have a lot in common. Posting a job ad online will allow you to reach more diverse candidates. However, first, you have to account for confirmation bias. Many hiring managers are unconsciously drawn to applicants that come from a similar background as them. While it’s impossible to unlearn biases overnight, you can take steps to make the hiring process more inclusive, such as eliminating gender-coded language from job descriptions.
The plastics industry is facing a labor shortage that stands to hinder growth for an industry that’s experiencing a resurgence. One way to offset the current skill gap is to appeal to a broader range of candidates. Leading by example, making the hiring process more inclusive, and collecting data are a few ways to increase diversity in the workplace.
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