Prioritizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Manufacturing

As demographics change and the demand for more diverse workplace cultures skyrockets, industries like manufacturing must increase their efforts with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) if employers hope to recruit and retain top talent. In the U.S. alone, manufacturing executives have found that sourcing the right talent is now 36% more difficult than it was less than a decade ago. DEI plays a critical role in attracting candidates, but also keeping them, too. In manufacturing alone, women are significantly underrepresented and are 1.8 times more likely to leave the industry than men. 

Progress in DEI in the manufacturing industry has a long way to go. Our studies show that 24% of employees feel their organizations have done nothing to improve DEI. On top of that, just 35% of manufacturing employees believe DEI plays an important role in their companies’ recruiting efforts, and a mere 6% are encouraged to bring DEI concerns to their managers. 

Despite 79% of manufacturing employers actively recruiting for open roles, just 32% view improving DEI as a top priority, and a slight 30% feel they’ve made significant progress with DEI in their organizations. Only 23% of manufacturing employers feel their DEI efforts have increased over the last 12 months. 

With 25% of manufacturing employers aiming to achieve their DEI goals within the next 2 years, there are actionable steps employers can take to consistently improve upon DEI in their sectors.

Source: The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts: Progress, Priorities, and Opportunities

Communicate your DEI goals and initiatives

Your DEI strategy and any changes or improvements to it should be communicated not only to everyone across your organization but also to hiring candidates. When employees understand the organization-wide reach of your DEI objectives, they’re in a better position to help you achieve those goals, especially your recruiting teams. Ensure that DEI policies, strategy updates, and resources are accessible to all and that they’re integrated into your recruiting program. 

  • Fifty-one percent of manufacturing employers surveyed in our 2021 DEI Report say candidates ask for insights into their organization’s DEI policies, while 65% of employers say existing employees ask for it, too. 
  • Meanwhile, just 30% of manufacturing employees were given DEI resources during their hiring process, and 56% of these employees have asked for insight into their employer’s DEI initiatives in the last 12 months; only 35% believe DEI plays an important role in their company’s hiring efforts. 
  • Whereas 60% of manufacturing employers have updated DEI handbooks and materials in 2021, 36% have created DEI policies this year, 51% are formalizing their DEI strategy this year, 41% plan on sharing their DEI initiatives across their organizations, and 53% plan on sharing DEI initiatives with candidates during recruitment.
  • Thirty-two percent of manufacturing employers are also providing employees with more resources for employee resource groups (ERGs) and support groups where DEI efforts can be communicated and discussed. 
  • Fifty-eight percent of manufacturing employers feel that communicating their DEI goals and progress offers the largest room for improvement across their organization—followed closely by 44% who feel setting internal goals for DEI offers the most room for improvement. 
  • Thirty-seven percent of manufacturing employers say communicating their ongoing and future DEI initiatives is one of their key priorities for the next 12 months.
  • Sixty percent of manufacturing employers are optimistic that they’ll reach their DEI goals, yet only 23% feel their DEI efforts have increased in the past 12 months. 
  • Just 13% of manufacturing employees were given information about their company’s DEI efforts with them during their recruiting process, whereas 26% say they never received any information around DEI. 
  • While 55% of manufacturing employees believe DEI plays an important role in their company’s hiring efforts, only 30% were introduced to DEI initiatives during onboarding, while just 23% were introduced to DEI efforts during onboarding.
  • Only 26% of manufacturing employees claim their employer shares ongoing efforts and progress of DEI across their organization. 
  • Additionally, just 30% of manufacturing employees are encouraged to discuss concerns or questions around DEI with their managers. 
  • Twenty-eight percent of manufacturing employees believe their employers struggle to communicate DEI efforts internally, and 18% feel there’s a lack of buy-in around DEI initiatives from executive teams. At the same time, 25% believe their employers place higher priority on other organizational goals. 

Measure the success of your DEI initiatives 

Tracking the progress of your DEI initiatives is key to understanding both the success of your DEI strategy and the gaps or areas in need of improvement. Though many manufacturing employers and recruitment professionals recognize the need for measuring DEI goals, our 2021 Report shows that just 39% of employers plan to measure the success of ongoing DEI objectives. Start by identifying a few key areas where DEI can be improved in your organization, then create goals your team can work towards over a set period and measure the progress of those goals as you go. 

  • Just 20% of manufacturing employers plan on using data and insights to uncover potential biases in their recruiting processes. 
  • While 32% of manufacturing employers feel they need to increase alignment between HR goals and broader organizational ones, 44% plan on setting further internal goals for DEI they can measure, while 62% plan on leveraging data and insights this year to improve DEI, and a further 42% of making measuring DEI a top priority over the next 12 months.
  • Additionally, 41% of manufacturing employers are gathering feedback and insights from employees to help measure the progress of their DEI efforts. 
  • Forty-eight percent of manufacturing employers are using hiring results to measure their DEI initiatives, 51% are using employee demographics, 55% are leveraging employee experience surveys, and 34% are using regular touch-points with employees.
  • Fifty-three percent of manufacturing employers are using retention rates to help measure DEI efforts, while only 20% use compensation increases and promotion rates, and just 16% use offboarding interview data. 
  • Just 17% of manufacturing employees believe their employers use data to help uncover biases in recruitment and 18% say their employers leverage additional employee surveys to gather data. 

From an employee perspective, 37% believe their employers leverage data from hiring results to measure the effectiveness of their DEI efforts, 31% say their employers use employee demographic data, 31% have regular check-ins around DEI, but just 19% think their employers also leverage data from retention rates.  

Source: The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts: Progress, Priorities, and Opportunities

Audit your existing recruitment practices

In recruiting, DEI matters. And, in manufacturing, ensuring that you integrate DEI practices into your hiring processes is crucial. One of the first steps you can take towards improving DEI in your organization is to audit your existing recruitment practices and determine any gaps in your hiring practices so you can ensure they’re both fair and inclusive. To perform a baseline audit, look first at each element of your recruiting process—including job descriptions, candidate outreach, employee experience surveys, and more—and note any gaps or inconsistencies where DEI may be lacking. Having this foundational understanding of your existing practices will help you choose the right areas to improve or work on to achieve DEI initiatives.

  • Thirty percent of manufacturing employers are offering DEI training to their recruiting and talent acquisition teams. 
  • Our survey found that just 34% of manufacturing employers involve diverse stakeholders in hiring and recruiting processes + decisions. 
  • When it comes to increasing DEI in recruiting, 34% of manufacturing employers are posting open roles to nontraditional outlets; 30% are proactively sourcing candidates from nontraditional backgrounds; 55% are ensuring job postings are worded to eliminate bias; 27% are using anonymized resume review; 34% are standardizing interview questions and rubrics, 30% are removing educational requirements to prioritize skills and capabilities, and 27% are hiring from different geographic locations. 
  • Meanwhile, when communicating DEI initiatives to prospects, 65% of manufacturing employers are leveraging social media. 
  • Thirty-two percent of manufacturing employers also stated in our survey that they’re making actionable changes to their hiring processes and practices, yet, only 18% are implementing mandatory DEI training for their employees. 
  • Twenty-nine percent of manufacturing employees have noticed their employers replacing educational requirements with core skills and competencies when diversifying their recruiting practices. 
  • Just 14% of manufacturing employees believe their companies offer bias training for recruiting and HR teams. 

Manufacturing employers are facing a myriad of challenges when it comes to diversifying their recruiting processes and making actionable changes to their hiring practices. Our survey found that 32% of manufacturing employers are experiencing difficulties in sourcing diverse candidates, while another 55% have found it difficult to meet their DEI goals due to time constraints. This signals a need for a more streamlined recruiting process that puts DEI at the forefront of how manufacturing employers source, nurture, and hire top talent. 

Make your recruiting process a foundation for change 

At Lever, we’re committed to providing you with the tools you need to attract, nurture, and retain diverse talent in your organization. We surveyed over 500 HR decision-makers and 1,000 employees to determine the state of DEI in 2021—and we break down the results in our latest Report. Explore new strategies for improving DEI in your organization today and beyond with our 2021 State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report. 

Download the Report