For today’s machine shops, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) can feel like a heady concept reserved for big businesses with bigger budgets.
In a March 2023 article, Fast Company revealed that, in 2020, companies spent around $7.5 billion on DEI efforts. Since then, however, “progress to increase inclusion and diversity has been slow or nonexistent.”
What the data doesn’t call out are the small businesses with a passion for people yet no budget to launch specialty programs or hire DEI coordinators. Many CNC business ownersfeel overwhelmed by the push to develop formal DEI initiatives, wondering, What difference could it possibly make to a small shop like mine?
While I believe diversity, equity, and inclusion are important values for any business, I also believe that most NTMA member shops already embrace DEI values!
So let’s take a few minutes to examine what DEI means for the modern CNC machine shop and how an emphasis on DEI practices can help your shop grow stronger and more sustainable.
How DEI Helps Today’s Machine Shops Grow Stronger and More Successful
Here’s what happens when real manufacturing businesses embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout their everyday operations.
Employees are happy and productive
Younger workers aren’t the only ones who want and need to feel seen and valued at work. According to a study shared by Business News Daily:
- Employees who feel good about their jobs demonstrate higher morale and productivity
- Employees with low morale are likely to seek new employment
- Employees care less about “perks” and more about communication, culture, and feeling heard and supported, both personally and professionally
What do these findings have to do with DEI? Everything! Because a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is one where all employees feel great about their work environment, leading to high morale and the kind of productivity that keeps customers coming back.
Top talent chooses your shop—and stays there
Today’s machine shops are struggling to find skilled manufacturing workers, a problem expected to impact the industry for the foreseeable future. If you hope to staff the most qualified employees at your CNC business, you have to compete on more than pay or benefits; you also need to offer the best culture.
If you struggle to hire and retain top talent, it’s time to evaluate why. What’s keeping applicants from saying “yes” to your job offer? What’s driving team members to leave your shop for another?
Your shop floor looks more diverse
It’s true that some parts of the US are less diverse than others. But I’d still like to encourage you to look harder. It’s not enough to post a sign in your window and hope qualified candidates knock on your door. Ambitious shop owners find diverse talent by getting out into their communities and actively seeking trainable, eager employees.
Shops that prioritize diversity benefit from having a range of backgrounds and perspectives to draw from. If you’re ready to attract and train the next generation of manufacturing experts, NTMA has workforce training resources that can help!
Team members feel welcome as they are
Sometimes, we grow so accustomed to our environment that we stop seeing what makes it special. But if people are your shop’s defining factor (and I absolutely believe they are),celebrating their uniqueness is imperative to your shop’s long-term success.
Every individual in your CNC business is unique—with their own culture, history, and traditions. Are you celebrating that uniqueness as a key element of your culture?
NTMA member Steve Tamasi’s shop, Boston Centerless, has a wonderful approach to honoring the individuality of its team members. Steve describes:
As we began to grow rapidly in the early 2000s, we noticed that we were building a very diverse workforce. We had employees from all over the world, and we wanted to celebrate that, so we initiated the practice of hanging a flag for each employee’s country of origin.
As time went on, and we hired employees from new countries, we would buy their country’s flag and try and get it up on the wall within a couple of weeks of their start date. We received lots of feedback that these new employees immediately felt included and part of an eclectic BC team. Now, we also have International Food Day once per year where everyone brings in their cultural specialty for all to try.
We want our team members to know that no matter where they’re from or what their background is, as long as they adhere to our Core Values, they will be accepted as part of our team!
Larger customers connect with your brand
Big international OEMs often have a DEI manager or VP, and they pay close attention to their manufacturing partners’ diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.
DEI experts notice when a vendor uses inclusive language on their website, posts diverse imagery on their social media pages, and promotes equitable in-house policies in their hiring materials.
Large organizations can also provide excellent examples of successful DEI initiatives. Following their lead (and showing them that you’re following their lead) can further strengthen the relationship you have with them.
You achieve measurable results
Highlighted in the Fast Company article, Wema Hoover is a global diversity, equity, and inclusion expert who believes many companies never took DEI seriously; therefore, they failed to connect DEI initiatives to their organizations’ values.
Hoover recommends that companies set not only 5-10-year DEI goals but also shorter-term benchmarking goals that measure ongoing progress. “Those systemic changes live on,” she said.
Join NTMA and become part of a wonderfully diverse community of manufacturing professionals!