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Ontario Nonprofits Partner To Help Manufacturers Grow Women Workforce

The Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public and investor awareness of Ontario’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem, has announced that it will partner with nonprofit Build a Dream to provide solutions to improve employment outcomes for women in manufacturing.

The strategic partnership will attempt to overcome barriers that are keeping women out of the industry through several steps:

  1. Identify challenges related to advancing the employment of women in manufacturing
  2. Identify Ontario manufacturers that have implemented effective practices to engage, recruit, and retain women
  3. Develop an Action Plan for use by manufacturers, governments and partner organizations (educational institutions, industry associations) to engage, recruit and retain women

Several Trillium Network initiatives already focus on the manufacturing workforce. This partnership, however, focuses specifically on diversity and inclusion. “The partnership is a way to push for real change in manufacturing and in employment outcomes. There are companies that have made tremendous advancements in diversity and inclusion and benefit enormously from the talent pool that they have created. We hope to take those best practices and show others how to implement new processes and shift the perception of women in manufacturing,” says Dr. Brendan Sweeney, Trillium’s managing director.

“There are many great tools and resources shared by invested stakeholders that already exist. Our goal is to gain greater insight from industry leaders who have committed to diversity and inclusion. Throughout the years, we have found that increasing the number of females in male-dominated industries will require intentional and purposeful action for all parties: educators, industry and community,” says Nour Hachem-Fawaz, president and founder of Build a Dream. The organization frequently speaks with stakeholders from different industries to help them improve recruitment, as well as provide female employees with a platform to share their message with young women who may not have considered these careers previously.

There are many questions that need to be addressed, according to the nonprofits. Why are women underrepresented in these fields after so much effort? Why are there significant setbacks with retention, and why are women not making it to the leadership table? Both organizations know that a one-size-fits-all solution will not work; instead, they say, a strong effort is required from all invested partners with honest reflection on the institutional and systemic barriers that have limited women’s progress in these fields.

Meetings, brainstorming and resource-sharing have already begun, with additional steps being executed as the summer progresses. The partners expect to release their action plan by October 2020.