• Monday, July 22, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Gender parity – a must or a luxury?

Gender parity – a must or a luxury?

Manufacturing has long been known to be a male dominant sector. The Organization for Economic Corporation and Development reports that women make 38 percent of the manufacturing workforce in Africa.

The gap is said to be wider in leadership and technical roles, where women only make up a fraction of the workforce. Another report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that while women hold 47 percent of all jobs, they account for 29.4 percent of manufacturing positions – shedding light on the gender gap in the space.

The gender gap in manufacturing and other sectors has serious implications. In the grand scheme of things, the lack of diversity in general, including that of gender, could result in limited innovation and creativity due to lack of diverse talent and perspectives.

Focusing more on gender diversity, the gender gap could result in the creation of a culture of exclusion and bias, potentially leading to limit women’s growth opportunities.

The corporate and manufacturing worlds are moving closer to closing the gender gap through various programs and initiatives. However, we still have a long way to go, especially in developing markets, and select industries.

An industry like manufacturing can include physical labor and warehouse management which women seem to either move away from due to cultural, societal, or personal reasons, or be overlooked for such roles by employers.

This creates a pressure point on the industry as the talent pool inevitably diminishes. In fact, a recent study by Deloitte found that the manufacturing industry could face a shortage of up to 2.4 million workers by 2028, partly due to the underrepresentation of women and other diverse groups.

The private sector needs to continuously champion diversity, equality, and inclusion in organizations as well as promote gender parity, talent retention, and succession planning. At BIC we have seen this come to life across our network. Working across both Commercial and Manufacturing divisions, we are committed to gender equality and have a goal to see 40 percent female representation in director and above roles by 2027.

We work every day towards this goal through taking part in relevant events, collaborating with like-minded industry partners, and working on our Human Resources plans and initiatives. One of our biggest partners in the region is Break the Ceiling Touch the Sky event by House of Rose Professional.

Our participation and findings from such events help us further enhance our gender parity in our local offices. Most importantly, we work to have an equitable hiring process, as well as an inclusive culture. Diversity is important. However, without taking it a step further to ensure inclusion of all team members, diversity would only get you so far.

Read also: Roles of corporate governance in promoting gender equity in the workplace

Our internal resources further support gender parity within the organization. This takes form through initiatives we run, mentorship programs, and supporting committees we have.

In Nigeria, we are proud of our manufacturing unit where women account for around 95 percent of the workforce. The impact this has on the operation and on their communities is remarkable.

Women working at the Sagamu factory were able to hone their skills to develop professionally and to support their local and surrounding communities. Their recruitment and professional development is a major catalyst in the economic development of their communities.

Overall, the advancement of gender parity in the manufacturing sector is a critical step towards achieving sustainable inclusion and economic growth.

By championing gender parity, businesses in this industry can leverage the benefits of diverse perspectives, increased innovation, and enhanced employee engagement. To achieve this goal, it is essential to develop inclusive policies, provide equitable opportunities, and create a supportive work environment that values diversity and inclusion.

Through concerted efforts to address gender disparities, organizations within the industry can realize significant benefits and play a leading role in promoting inclusion globally.

.Ajakaiye, Senior Plant Manager, BIC Nigeria