Caterpillar’s state-of-the-art facility in Thiruvallur, India, produces important products used in construction and mining around the world, including off-highway trucks, hydraulic excavators, backhoe loaders and skid steer loaders. The team there takes great pride in the steps they take to drive inclusion. Last year they led an effort to examine the ergonomic conditions for women on the factory floor.
Their study found that some machines needed ergonomic accommodations to eliminate safety risks when operated by women. By making a number of simple, gender-inclusive changes to how machines were run, the team increased safety metrics and produced more defect-free components. The new approach required investment in training, and the Thiruvallur factory is proud to host its first all-women machinist cell on the machine shop floor.
Over the past few years, the Advanced Components and Manufacturing (ACM) teams in Monterrey, Reynosa and Acuña, Mexico, continue making strides in recruiting and retaining women within their workplaces and creating inclusive work environments.
The creation of Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) Employee Resource Group chapters in each ACM Mexico location has been vital to the positive results. The WIN chapters were developed with goals to create inclusive environments that empower women, avoid bias and increase the overall number of women working in each facility — both in leadership and non-leadership roles.
The chapters also sought to increase understanding and encourage their male coworkers to become allies for supporting women with opportunities for meaningful career development. Creating a culture where all points of view and opinions are valued has produced positive results, aligned with the Workforce Composition pillar of Caterpillar’s D&I Framework:
According to the World Health Organization, 5% of the world’s population lives with hearing loss, impacting quality of life and, sometimes, options for employment. To increase inclusion and belonging, Caterpillar’s Brazil team recently focused on improving the resources and tools needed to communicate with employees who are deaf or hearing-impaired.
These tools include in-person and online sign language interpreters, video subtitles, sign language courses and transparent face shield masks during the pandemic to allow visual lip reading. In addition, they ensured the processes were clearly outlined in writing for manufacturing procedures and safety tools and created ways for all employees to submit improvement ideas.
While the processes and technology were designed to help employees who are deaf, the exposure to different communication tools like interpreters and sign language courses helped employees without hearing loss become more aware of others.
Creating a welcoming workplace strengthens Caterpillar’s reputation as an inclusive company and is just one of the many reasons Caterpillar has been named one of the best companies to work for in Brazil.
Nearly three decades ago, Jenny found herself in front of Caterpillar’s booth at a local career fair. She did not know anything about Caterpillar but needed a job that would challenge her.
Motivated by how Caterpillar encourages employees to be continuous learners, Jenny joined the team as an administrative assistant and became the first local Shanghai Diesel Joint Venture employee in the technical and operations department. Inspired by mentors, she set out to learn all parts of the business and develop strong business acumen. Jenny credits self-directed learning, on-the-job experiences and formal classroom learning for advancing her career.
In 2013, Jenny became the first female district manager in China. As a female leader in a key role, she was inspired to help other women at Caterpillar break barriers in their careers. In partnership with seven other female leaders, Jenny helped form a club focused on giving back by mentoring female employees.
Club members meet regularly to share experiences and advice. The club hosts an annual conference called Women in Leadership (WIL), which focuses on mentoring, career succession, diversity and inclusion and networking.
The annual event attracts about 100 participants each year and focuses on leadership. Participants include both women and men as allies to drive the changes necessary for women to succeed in leadership roles.
Jenny is passionate about paving the way for women in predominantly male fields. Her advice is to take risks, be openminded and adopt a continuous learning mindset. Mentoring has significantly impacted Jenny’s career, and she values the lessons she has learned from mentors the most. She’s come a long way from her first role as an administrative assistant to managing a district office and credits the learning opportunities throughout her career as the key to her success.
The Solar Turbines airfoils manufacturing team has found inclusion inspiration in an unlikely place. The “Flying V” play in hockey requires players to skate in a V-shape formation. Using everyone’s unique skills and strengths, the team moves together, and momentum builds with every stride. Together, using everyone’s diverse skills, the team is stronger.
The Solar team took that inspiration and realized that they could be more powerful together and sought to capitalize on their generational, ethnic and gender diversity to cross-train between product lines and use technology to share information.
The “Airfoils Flying V, Manufacturing Engineers Fly Together” project organized manufacturing engineers into three product teams based on communication styles, personality types and work experiences. These teams cross-trained each other on their respective product lines while using technology platforms to share information, training files and documents.
The results of this intentional partnership are impressive and have been sustained for over two years:
Through this collaboration, aligned to Workplace Culture in Caterpillar’s D&I Framework, team members report faster learning curves, greater team camaraderie, and more opportunity to spot problems. According to Taloa Young, senior manufacturing engineer, “My knowledge increased by working through issues not common to my product line.”
“Our global diverse team and supply network helps Caterpillar fulfill its long-standing commitment to producing world-class products and services to those we serve. We continually build strong supplier partnerships that align with Caterpillar’s diversity strategy to deliver on our promise to help our customers build a better world.”
Senior Vice President, Strategic Procurement & Planning Division
Since Harlee was a young girl, her father was always tinkering and fixing things — a habit picked up by her older brother, and Harlee too. “Of course, me being the little sister I wanted to be like my big brother, always doing hands on work, always turning wrenches and handing him tools,” Harlee said. It took a few years, but that dream came true.
Today, Harlee is two years into the technician apprenticeship program at Cat dealer Carter Machinery. She’s also proud to be the first female technician in that shop. As a service technician, Harlee is starting a profession that is high in demand — in high tech jobs — and has high potential for a future career. It is a role that has a strong STEM connection, as Harlee will tell you that math and science are important to her daily work.
“You need to know how many quarts to a gallon or how much load a bucket can handle on a wheel loader,” Harlee said. “What additives do you need to put in the axles to make them last longer to do their job better?"
"Just because it may have been boring in school or you weren’t good at it, that doesn’t mean you can’t have this career.”
The future of the manufacturing industry is heavily dependent upon today’s STEM education. This is one of the many reasons Caterpillar believes in strengthening STEM education programs and the STEM pipeline, including the need for the next generation of technicians to work at one of the 161 Cat dealer locations around the world.