Women constitute one of manufacturing’s largest pools of untapped talent, according to a recent study conducted by the Manufacturing Institute. While women currently make up almost half of the workforce, only a fraction of those women are in manufacturing roles. With so many qualified women in the workforce, Caterpillar is dedicated to finding new ways to draw them into manufacturing.
Caterpillar aspires to increase the mix of qualified, capable females across our enterprise to industry benchmark levels by 2022. These goals include increasing our total female workforce to 29 percent and increasing our total female leaders to 25 percent. Caterpillar worldwide, full-time employment was nearly 95,000 at the end of 2Q17, meaning that in order to hit the goal of 29 percent, there will be roughly 27,500 female employees working at Caterpillar by 2022. Currently, at the highest level of leadership, three of the eight Executive Officers (38 percent) are women and eight of the 31 leaders (26 percent) of the Chairman’s Operating Council are women.
Amy Volz, Global Chair of the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) Employee Resource Group (ERG), stated in a LinkedIn post that there are currently more women running Fortune 500 companies than ever before. To further drive this momentum at other leadership levels and across the enterprise, Caterpillar is committed to recruiting more females by speaking at or sponsoring events as well as partnering with local school districts to cultivate interest in manufacturing.
International Women’s Day is an annual global event on March 8 and the theme for this year was Be Bold for Change. Addressing gender equality is the first step in a broader, more intentional diversity and inclusion journey. Caterpillar believes that when employees with different opinions, experiences and backgrounds come together, innovation is born. Caterpillar is working to close the gap through awareness and education with programs such as STEM, which encourages children to discover a passion for science and math. Another way is by empowering male employees to act as advocates for gender equality. Recent studies show that only roughly 33 percent of men realize the gender bias in the workplace. Our male allies play a critical role in the work going on throughout the company to raise awareness and close the gap.
Introduce a Girl to STEM day is a global Caterpillar event held in early November with facilities around the world participating. There will be speakers and activities to teach girls between fifth and eighth grade about STEM. They will also have an opportunity to meet with female (and male) role models in a STEM related role. This year, the Central Illinois event will be held at the Tech Center in Mossville, Ill. on November 8th and 9th. Roughly 500 girls are expected to attend from public and private schools throughout Peoria and surrounding areas. This has been an annual event that Caterpillar has hosted in partnership with the WIN ERG. The event is significant in helping promote diversity in STEM fields and making a better tomorrow for everyone.
Earlier this year, the Large Power Systems Division facility in Corinth, Mississippi hosted 80 female students in the ninth and tenth grades. These students learned about robotics, 3D printing, resume writing, interviewing and more as part of an event called Introducing Girls to Manufacturing. The event featured speakers and hands-on activities to showcase various career options in modern manufacturing. The students also witnessed technology in action with equipment used in remanufacturing facilities.
Trent Tippey, Mississippi Operations Manager, explained, “Our next generation workforce will need academic knowledge, technical skills and the ability to problem solve. We want local students—young women and young men alike—to be aware of the career opportunities available to them so they can better prepare themselves for the future.”
In July, the Decatur facility also invited ten girls from the local junior high and high schools for an opportunity to learn more about a more traditional aspect of manufacturing, assembly line work. These girls, between the ages of 12-16 years old, are part of the “Sista Girls and Friends” nonprofit mentoring group that promotes empowerment of young women and girls. They toured the Caterpillar facility, visited the Caterpillar assembly Training Lab and learned from several guest speakers about the exciting opportunities for women in manufacturing.
It is due to efforts such as these, and many others, that Caterpillar has begun to be recognized for its efforts to bring more women into the manufacturing industry. In 2016, Caterpillar was ranked 7th in the Woman Engineer Magazine’s “Top 50 Employers” but we’re not stopping there. We have big goals and we won’t rest until we accomplish them. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.