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Addressing the Workforce Shortage through Diversity and Inclusion Efforts: A Series

In early December 2020, The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM), put forth a diversity summit geared toward the manufacturing industry. This two-day summit covered what diversity and inclusion mean, challenges in these fields specific to manufacturing, and how to implement diversity and inclusion initiatives at all levels in any size of company.

This year NAM announced a pledge for action to help close the equity gap in the industry. By 2025, the goal is for manufacturers to have made 50,000 tangible actions to repair the inequal opportunities in the industry and create 300,000 pathways to job opportunities specifically for people of color and black people. The final goal is to change the workforce by 2030.

Tracks coverage of the summit will be broken into several articles. This first installment will give a brief overview of diversity and what it means, while the next few will dive deeper into certain aspects of diversity. Lastly, coverage will provide practical tips and advice on how to start diversity and inclusion initiatives.

What is Diversity?

Simply put, diversity refers to the practice of including different types of people in organizations, groups, or situations. Diversity can also refer to many different aspects of the human experience, including socio-economic background, race, religion, and even age.

Although as new research continues to emerge, it is becoming more obvious that diversity based on numbers is not enough for people to feel truly integrated into an organization or group. The step beyond diversity is inclusion; this is when diversity becomes ingrained in the organization and people begin to feel included, as the name suggest.

Why is it Important?

Diversity and inclusion initiatives are important for many reasons, one benefit in particular for the manufacturing industry is the ability of these initiatives to help close the skills gap

and resolve the workforce crisis. The current trajectory of manufacturing could leave 2.4 million jobs unfulfilled in 2028 according to Carolyn Lee, Executive Director of the Manufacturing Institute. If the industry is to be on par with the rest of the labor force, embracing diversity and inclusion is one way to edge closer.

These initiatives expand the pool of potential employees, a crucial factor when it comes to the workforce shortage. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the industry to promote it as a career to those who may not be inclined to see it as such, including people of color, members of the LGBT+ community, and disabled people—all marginalized communities. In turn, hiring diverse employees will build up an inclusive culture that resonates with others which will make it easier long term to find and hire top talent. In addition, diversity and inclusion is proven to help companies financially. Companies in the top quartile of racial and gender diversity are more likely to have better financial returns.

Future articles will focus on various dimensions of diversity, including race and ethnicity and gender, among others. More resources can be found at:

For questions or article suggestions, contact NATM Tracks Editor Elizabeth Moore at

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