Manufacturing Hot Topics - Women in Manufacturing

13 July 2018

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Announcer: You're listening to Manufacturing Ignition Hot Topics. Bringing you right up to date on the latest trends and discussions within U.K. manufacturing. Sponsored by Bonfire Recruitment, manufacturing leaders across the U.K. to attract the best talent for their manufacturing company. Ignite your business or career today by visiting Here's your host Terry Mallin and Scott Buchanan.


Terry Mallin: One of the hot topics, so as we said, is females in manufacturing. I know you've done a bit of research into this Scott, so I'll let you crack on.


Scott Buchanan: Yeah, well it was something that came across, I mean you and I deal with this on a daily basis, and there's plenty of viewpoints in this. What prompted this was actually that a company called Mansfield Pollard, and there was an article I was reading about them reaching the equality milestone. Where actually the key directors in their business, all three of them, are now female. Which caught my eye and I was thinking, "Well actually, that's pretty, yeah it's not common I guess for the percentage of the board to actually be, all female." Then it got me thinking actually, what's the norm? Then also the recruitment challenges that we've seen over the years about perception, about capability. And then actually, if we think about the pool of talent that we have, depending on the role of course, you know the volume of goods and females are coming through the line.

Scott Buchanan: I just thought [crosstalk 00:01:47] an interesting starting point because there's so many other ideas that spin off from it.


Terry Mallin: I think this could be, you know we could speak hours about this. I think it's just a matter of keeping it really sharp and close, as to the point as possible. I think the two biggest things that I see is the equation around the percentage of women within manufacturing as a whole and who are then management [inaudible 00:02:12] positions. And then the second one being obviously the pay gap issue. I think, I can with take from my personal experience, but also looking at the statistics that Invisible[inaudible 00:02:25] you know so one of the biggest companies from the FTSE 100 and stuff like that, you can see the percentage of people. So I think that would be a really good focus point for us to hit it home, but actually put a spin of our own insight because obviously we are on the front line, we are still recruitment. And I've got a really good insight into the processes that happen and especially the pay gap issue. We've been working in recruitment for six years and Scott, you've been working at it 10, so I'm sure we can give everybody a good insight. Rather than just the same old stories and articles that you read online.


Scott Buchanan: Well one of the things that caught my eye this week when I was looking at the news was the European Commission as well. You know actually we're all trying to hit this. Their actual, in their own commission, is trying to hit a target of at least 40% of women in management. I mean that's their target, and they're all whacking to, so it's there. And actually, 40% versus we're closer to 50% mark I'm thinking. But that stems on, you know when we recruit for any role it's thinking actually about what is the right experience skill set, you know right person for the job. We [crosstalk 00:03:47] don't, you know, why should it matter what you are?


Terry Mallin: 100% Scott, and I think a bigger picture, right obviously there's a lot of statistics that get thrown around, okay? But the bigger picture is how many men is there in manufacturing compared to women? If you look at the statistics from last year, manufacturing is made up of 85% men and 15% women. So you've got that. That is a topic in it's own, where actually how do you encourage more females into manufacturing. I know there's a lot of stuff going on, as I've said in the past there's a lot of stuff I'm involved in with schools and encouraging young people to think about manufacturing and see that as a great career. Manufacturing is doing well at the moment, it's thriving, it's exciting. It's a rewarding career that should attract it's fair share of people, regardless of gender. Gender doesn't matter. Actually I think the focus should really be encouraging more females into manufacturing to get a fairer split.



Scott Buchanan: You've hit the nail on the head, Terry. There's not enough females, in actual [inaudible 00:04:55] and manufacturing, before we get to the leadership piece. Got to question the angles behind that. In terms of what you think of, from the educational piece, whether the skills that you're talking of or working with, and you know the formal education, whether it's colleges or universities, are doing their bit and actually encouraging, you know highlighting manufacturing as a talent. And then actually allowing them to have, setting them up with the tools, to actually get in and do a good job there.  [inaudible 00:05:29] They end up becoming a lawyer with manufacturing or doing other things, industries that are more flexible maybe, to what's going on.


Terry Mallin: Exactly. And I think you know, with the focus of these reports that I've seen online about 33% of the board being female, I think that's the wrong sort of attitude there, a percentage of the board, because I think should be actually encouraging more females into manufacturing as a whole. And then at the end of the day, you know there's no point in we're talking about percentages when actually we should be looking at getting more people into manufacturing overall. That's my thought, anyway.


Scott Buchanan: The facts that are probably drawn to this point, the reason we're talking about the percentages of females at board level and in senior management, is based on the fact that females, the percentages were horrendous. You know they were absolutely, it was just not fair that it was a male, it is and still is a male dominated environment. I guess, it's moving, we now work and we all live with an all encompassing world that's diverse. I think sometimes, as the lady I spoke to earlier highlighted the power of diversity. Is actually, where you know it can be such a massive difference within manufacturing. I'm sure a lot of [inaudible 00:06:53] as well, will actually embrace the capability of what someone can bring to the table. And whether it's maybe slightly different, you know if someone's got maybe a family, or there's actually commitments with, you know then can't necessarily do what's always been done, that that can happen.


Terry Mallin: I think it's to do with, Scott I'm thinking about it myself, you know I've kind of always been brought up with a successful mum, who's done very, very well and has worked her way from the bottom up to being the HR director for a global company. I've seen that progression, so I've always been inspired and influenced with her, and I've never thought about gender at all. I think, from my perspective, all the companies I've ever worked with, there's never been any gender bias. There's never been that. I've never faced that. However, it's out there and there's no question about that and I think it's with that sort of older-school companies, who you know, it's the way it's been done and it hard to accept maybe a female on our board? I think that's the big challenge.


Terry Mallin: We're talking about the percentage of females on board, I think it goes down to the actual companies, I mean you've got around say what? The FTSE 100, you know they're obviously embracing it, you know it's a matter of the Argos et 36% of the board female, Glaxo's got 33% of the board being female, so there's a big drive there. However, the bigger picture is actually, out of the total FTSE 100, out of the hundred companies there are of each percentage of females on board there's 17%. But, that's the total FTSE 100, that's not, you know there's 29 manufacturing companies on there. I think the key thing is, not just looking at FTSE 100, or whatever in the bigger businesses, actually in the wider manufacturing. You get more people involved in manufacturing, regardless of gender, then it will actually balance, end of the day you know people who are career-driven, successful and doing an excellent job will be actually coming through doors.[crosstalk 00:08:57]


Scott Buchanan: Exactly, it's about the capability. Terry, the figures you've got there, I've double-checked here, I've got the 2017 figures here and I believe the Argos actually now at 44% of female board and there was GSK there at 41% with five female directors. I'm guessing that maybe if you get 2016 figures there then there you go. There's [crosstalk 00:09:15] growth.


Terry Mallin: Can I just go into a wee bit of detail here, Scott? End of the day right, I've talked of board and nothing else, but actually the vast majority of these people who are female within these boards are non-execs, independent, non-exec

Terry Mallin: directors. That's the sort of insight that I can see. That's a report back from 2013. So it's a bit out of date, but you've got the more updated figures.


Scott Buchanan: There's progress. I guess that's actually good reading. Tying in with just you touching on the client you've worked with over the course and you've not really come across...I've not seen it from...I've actually seen it in the reverse of that. I've had that client, you've got a female, brilliant who will actually help the morale on the team and all that side of it. But I've seen it also where, as an example here, a lady was considering a role in an unionized environment and the person that was representing her said, "Do you know what? It's probably not the right one for you." Do you know that way? That opens up a whole other can of worms, Terry. I mean what's your thoughts on that in terms you not think that companies are potentially missing out on... and missing opportunity. [crosstalk 00:10:41]


Terry Mallin: 100% I think, Scott, before this podcast we knew this was going to be a hot topic and what I've made sure I've not done is done too much reading online, because that can sway. As you see, there's some stats here and nothing else. This is really from my perspective, and actually I don't really see that. When I'm looking at a placement, so Bonfire is business, out of all our placements over the last two years, 40% of placements have been female [crosstalk 00:11:14]and 60% have been male[crosstalk 00:11:14] within companies. And that's been every single placement we've made in the last two years.  [crosstalk 00:11:21]



Scott Buchanan: And that's been senior management within manufacturing.


Terry Mallin: Correct.


Scott Buchanan: Those figures are not too dissimilar are they? From what we read from the report?


Terry Mallin: No. I don't think that you know when [inaudible 00:11:34] the percentage of people within manufacturing management is clearly, you know the gap in there clear looking right in. And the pay gap issue? Scott, I've not I've never had any placements in the last two years where it's dow to gender. Whatever the budget's been for that role, regardless of who it is, that's what the budget is. To be fair, sometimes it's actually been a wee bit more, because for that particular candidate, if they're a really good candidate regardless of gender they can be in demand for a number of roles. So actually you could be at a point where you're pushing a wee bit more with salary to get them on board within your company. That is [inaudible 00:12:16] regardless of gender. My two pence worth, is in the basis that I don't see it personally. I know it does exist. I think it's a historic issue, but actually once you break down the boundaries with certain businesses, and they start accepting more females into the business as a whole, then that number's only going to come up to more even. Where it's sitting at 40/60 at the minute, there's not question about it. And the pay gap[inaudible 00:12:39] you know, there should be transparency there on that. I think there is something getting done with transparency on it. End of the day, there's no issue[crosstalk 00:12:52].


Scott Buchanan: I think the pay gap, as you know, always my processes is allowing, making sure it's the right person with the right experience to for the company that's trying to track the best talent, do you know that way? I think it's almost, it's so irrelevant actually, the nature know if the person can do the job well, has the experience to do it, then there's companies that are maybe not open to actually promoting females within the business or maybe not willing to accept someone from out with coming into their organization, is definitely missing out on an opportunity. If you look across the world, this world of inclusivity, I think there's some serious examples that are relevant.

Scott Buchanan: The other thing I do think is important, Terry, is you know yourself if you take recruitment for example, someone coming into this industry, if they have a bad experience, do you know that way? Will last two minutes. Do you know that way? And I think in making sure that females are equipped and supported to have the right tools, do you know that way? And have the right...I don't know...the right mentoring? I know that sounds, I'm not trying to be patronized, but actually stepping into manufacturing and making sure that they've got the true support that's relevant as well, do you know that way? Because I think if you step into an organization and are thrown in the deep end and are not set up with the correct tools, and this goes back to schools and the college piece and actually having the capability of an individual. That's where the inroads will come in, and it's grassroots level that probably needs to be looked at and again that ties in with the STEM skills that we've touched on in previous months as well about what are we doing then furthering the chain. 



Terry Mallin: 100%, anyway we're talking about skill shortages as well, you know? And at the end of the day, the U.K.'s got a healthy population. What we need to do is make sure that we're flying the flag for manufacturing and [crosstalk 00:14:58] encouraging as many people into manufacturing as possible. Which means that actually, we shouldn't have skill shortages. We should be in a comfortable position where we've got the best caliber of people. In our jobs, that are actually growing manufacturing across the U.K. as a whole and working in tandem, where actually what we become is a world leader[inaudible 00:15:20] rather than China, you know doing all these amazing stuff whatever, and then you've got Germany and the usual suspects. You know, everybody's getting involved.  Actually let's think about for the [inaudible 00:15:33] and let's fly the flag for manufacturing for the U.K.


Scott Buchanan: And if you look at any team environment the sum of all parts tends to be bigger. Do you know that way, than any other individual within it. You know the Chinese example is a great example whereby, I guess their mandated to do whatever it is that they're encouraged to do, but the actual part of that is actually supporting each other. Do you know that way? Actually working as a team to other objectives. Those organizations, you touched on [inaudible 00:16:01] yesterday as well, you know these guys absolutely have their global framework that allows them to tap into the expertise that they've got in their organization globally. And there's some good stuff.


Terry Mallin: I think [inaudible 00:16:15] did some good stuff, I know they've raised pay, gender pay gap report two weeks ago? Fourteenth of November, so that's visible online. Everybody can clearly see that. They're clearly the front face, you know they're looking to show that they're the best employer for gender throughout the world. Which is great, but we need some, we need more SME's, medium-sized manufacturing companies, doing the same. Which they certainly are, but I think we need a wee bit more, and we just need to encourage more people over all into manufacturing.


Scott Buchanan: Yeah, no, I totally agree and I think maybe for 2018, Terry, we revisit this and I think maybe look at the bigger challenge in how to encourage female leaders and technical experts into manufacturing and potentially take that one stage further, out looking...attracting individuals from further afield, overseas I guess. Highlighting the challenges of individuals with disabilities and so on, that can actually still do a good job and probably a better job in some cases within a role within manufacturing. Plenty to consider. Any feedback and thoughts and that would be appreciated from listeners and we'll certainly revisit that in the new year at some point as well.


Terry Mallin: Yeah, I'm sure we will end discussion, Scott, with a few of the people that we know well who embrace women in manufacturing and really we'll look to get an insight, so we'll hope to have someone on the show [crosstalk 00:17:52] and then stay for the episode as well.


Scott Buchanan: To be fair, I've spoken to a few this week, and I think because the good ones are busy [inaudible 00:18:02] Terry. So I think given them more than a few days notice is probably fair and let's get that penciled in for the new year.  [crosstalk 00:18:12] Let's do that as well.


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