Author: Cieana Detloff, Reporter for the Pump Industry through Empowering Pumps & Equipment and Co-organizer of the Empowering Women in Industry annual conference
The only thing better than being part of an online community is meeting that community face-to-face. Today, on Manufacturing Day, I spent the afternoon with some of the most amazing women! First off, if you have not yet met Erin Hallstrom, she is the very definition of ‘Fierce’! Today she shared a story about an experience she had as a teenager where an injury led to her jaw being wired shut. I can’t even imagine that!! I’ve had laryngitis before, and while my husband loved having a silent wife for 3 days, I hated it! (::chuckles::) Erin’s experience had a huge impact on her being a bold communicator and initial driver behind the founding of Influential Women in Manufacturing, so I’m honored and grateful to be one of her media partners through Empowering Women in Industry.
During the luncheon, it was super cool to see a representative from the state of Illinois honor Erin and her team with an official proclamation from Governor J.B. Pritzker, who has made supporting manufacturing in our state a priority. My jaw also dropped when she read a letter from Senator Tammy Duckworth, who is one of my personal heroes (I’m glad to see women in government – FYI 2019 is the centennial anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, and I celebrated that back in June!). Seeing this senator send direct correspondence in support of the work Influential Women in Manufacturing is doing was inspiring! There are so many people who are proud of Erin and her team, and I am one of them!
I very much admired the way Christine LaFave Grace, Managing Editor of Plant Services and Co-founder of Influential Women in Manufacturing, introduced and led an excellent panel discussion on Fostering Diversity & Inclusion in the Manufacturing Workplace. This panel of three talented professionals shared their critical factors for success. Chandra Brown, CEO of MxD, the Digital Manufacturing Institute in Chicago, started the discussion by dispelling the myth that “there are no candidates [women of color, LGBTQ, etc.] that we can find….” She recommended CEOs ignore this myth and join groups that are “not the same” so they gain greater exposure to the talent pool that is out there.
Nicole Wiggins, Diversity & Inclusion Leader at Navistar, talked about conducting unconscious bias training within organizations to see how the hiring process can be adjusted. Nicole also recommended that there be a diverse group of people interviewing potential candidates, so that the applicant can really get a sense that they would belong in the organization. Her push to “measure, measure, measure” was a solid argument for those companies who do not yet believe they have a lack of diversity and inclusion. Providing those data points about how many people are hired, and then how many people are brought up through the company and into leadership positions can yield some very interesting insights. “Data doesn’t lie and can be a powerful tool”. Chandra agreed and added that it’s one thing to get a seat at the table, but then once you’re there, “…as a Leader, you have to make space for people to be heard.” She concluded by reminding us that we all need allies – nobody does it alone!! TRUTH! I’m so glad that Influential Women in Manufacturing are allied with Empowering Women in Industry because we are #BetterTogether!
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Use the comments below to share your stories of how you participated in #MFDDay19!