Although women make up almost half of the total labor force in Europe (TWB Data Catalog, 2020) and are filling many roles that used to be dominated by males, they remain highly underrepresented in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing jobs were once manually intensive or consisted of mostly repetitive line-work. However, with robots, machines, and automatization the situation has changed and skilled gender-neutral roles have opened up. Pipelife has undergone positive developments with regards to diversity, especially at Pipelife Sweden, where an increase of female talent is taking on a mix of responsibilities.
When people hear the term ‘’manufacturing’’, they might picture heavy-duty workmen working grueling long hours or doing repetitive and unchallenging line-work. Except for the fact that the industry is still male dominated, the image is outdated. Robots and machines are now doing a lot of the heavy lifting and automatization takes care of a majority of repetitive tasks. However, preconceptions such as these have been kept alive for decades, which may answer why so few women do not even consider the industry an opportunity.
Contrary to perceptions, manufacturing now offers quality jobs with lots of development opportunities for both men and women alike. Studies show that two of the most important workplace factors for women are the ability to do what they do best and work-life balance, which are both achievable today in manufacturing roles.
There have been numerous developments and incentives to encourage more women to consider a career in manufacturing. From training programs, promotional opportunities to novel and challenging work assignments. Due to the fact that there is a lack of skilled workers in the industry women stand a good chance of not just finding a job, they also have access to great career opportunities.
Diversity in the workplace is front of mind at Pipelife and forms part of the Wienerberger group’s “2023 Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance Goals”, with social targets focusing on building positive awareness around gender equality and ensuring employees have equal rights and opportunities.
An example of this can be found at Pipelife Sweden, whose efforts to bridge the gender gap has resulted in women being more fairly represented across all jobs at the company. Female talent makes up 25% of Pipelife Sweden’s total workforce, while at their injection moulding production in Ljung, an impressive 40% of the workforce is female.
Defying traditional preconceptions, female talent is dominating machine maintenance teams, women drive massive loaders, they are present as production shift leaders, and more. The drive for equality is constantly evolving with continued efforts to get more female employees on board using traineeship programs and other proactive incentives.
The manufacturing industry has access to a lot of untapped talent within the 46% female share of workers in Europe (TWB Data Catalog, 2020) Attracting female talent can help fill the growing lack of skilled workers and is also paramount to secure the workforce of the future as a large number of baby boomers will retire in the next decade.
“Increasing the percentage of female talent presents a tremendous opportunity for both inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Diversity is part of our social sustainability goals. We are proud that the number of women has increased across the board and in management roles”, states Harald Schwarzmayr, CEO Pipelife. “However, much more needs to be done in order to encourage women to seek careers also in other, to date, female atypical roles such as in production. We need to raise awareness around benefits and career opportunities for women, while providing attractive incentives and training programs.”