How to get more female workers to overcome talent shortage

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Only 20% of the blue-collar workforce are women. In times of low unemployment rates and thus, resulting in a significant talent shortage, it has never been more important to be an attractive employer to female as well as to male employees. Traditionally manual skills jobs were not the first choice for girls. Thus, women in blue-collar industries have always been underrepresented. This has to change for several reasons like high turnover rates and a wave of pending retirements. Besides that, research shows that companies with better gender and racial diversity are more productive than their less diverse counterparts. They are more innovative and more profitable.

The State of Women in Blue Collar Industries

In a world where we talk about gender equality and diversity of work teams, it is crucial to take a look into the blue-collar workforce where there are 80 percent fewer women than men. This results into a need for blue-collar employers to  create better working conditions and training for women. The pay and opportunity gap varies by region and industry. However, women in logistics and manufacturing earn just 84 cents for every dollar paid to their male colleagues. There’s an even more significant gender pay gap in blue-collar leadership roles, where women make only 70% of male wages for similar work.

Luckily, there’s also a reason to be positive about the manual work profession’s efforts to create better gender equality. Over half of women in manufacturing, logistics, and transportation report seeing positive changes. Two-thirds would recommend their career to a daughter or another young woman.

Let’s take a look into topics that could help your company to become more attractive to female employees.

Challenges for Women in Manual Work

Culture, policy, and work environment can all play a role in retaining women in manual work environments. If you ask women in blue-collar work to rank career priorities, their answers were slightly different from the blue-collar workforce as a whole. Women are most likely to accept a job or stay with an employer who offers the following non-financial benefits:

  • Challenging work assignments
  • Work-life balance
  • Company culture
  • Career progression opportunities
  • High-caliber colleagues
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Learning and development opportunities

Providing strong female role models in supervisory, management, and other leadership roles can be crucial to create a more gender-balanced culture.

Training Men vs. Women in Blue Collar Professions

One real-world employer in the warehousing and logistics sector has doubled-down on efforts to create gender balance in skilled positions. In particular, the employer has pushed to help women enter roles operating VNA equipment, pallet trucks, and counterbalance forklift machinery. Over the past year, the employer has promoted a record number of women to leadership positions.

The manual work gender gap starts early. 53% of manual work professionals believe the school system does little to encourage girls to pursue blue-collar careers. This means women are less likely to apply for jobs or continue vocational training programs. While few employers try to create gender-biased training systems, they don’t always create an inclusive playing field for female hires. Women may require additional training on safety procedures to have the same opportunity to succeed as male colleagues.

How to get more women into blue-collar jobs

It is a fact that women and men are different when it comes to their work expectations. While women are attracted by learning opportunities or good company culture  and value flexible work hours, men are often attracted by career opportunities or higher salaries. These findings sound a bit stereotype, but research still proves this. Knowing this is important for blue-collar managers worldwide when it comes to the talent shortage. The industry can’t afford to ignore the female workforce any longer.

Traditionally, blue-collar work was tough work. But automation has brought some enhancements, which makes the job easier for everyone. Industries like logistics and warehousing suffer a lot from high seasonality and employee turnover and can offer many jobs that can be easily done by male and female employees. Unfortunately, the situation is still that women do not take those jobs as often as men do. How can you change this for your company to not run out of candidates?

Attract women to become part of your workforce

Employers can take an active role in making sure female manual workers are being hired, promoted, and compensated fairly. Creating more gender-inclusive training can be a significant component in closing the gender pay and opportunity gap in blue-collar professions. It is worth spending some time to think about changes in your job ads, on your company culture pages and also in your everyday work life. Ask your female employees what they would like to see. In addition to that, we have collected a few best practices from other companies that should help you get inspired to find the right actions for your company.

1. Address the bias against female workers

Your effort to provide a better employee experience for women is company-wide effort. Providing anti-bias training to executives, managers, and supervisors can help create momentum toward better gender inclusion. A culture change is necessary to remove bias toward women from hiring, training, promotion, and performance feedback systems. It is also helpful to change your external communication about the topic. Put women on your recruitment flyers, use them for social media, and build a diverse employer brand.

2. Provide a thought-through safety training

Helping women can require new training options to create an equal playing field. For example, Forbes cites how some transportation companies have begun offering self-defense training to female truck drivers. Ask your employees what they are needing to feel safe in their jobs. It is possible that there might be a different training need for heavy work tasks to compensate an possible lower physical strength.

3. Create mentors

Creating a formal structure to pair your latest female new hires with more established women in leadership roles can improve satisfaction and culture. Nearly one-in-five women in blue-collar professions value career progression opportunities. Mentorship and leadership training programs can provide female employees with opportunities to learn from mentors and acquire new leadership skills.

4. Offer flexible working hours

26% of women in blue-collar professions cite a need for better work-life balance, and 10% pointed out a desire for flex scheduling. Addressing the need for more part-time options could improve job satisfaction among women, leading to higher retention and training ROI.

5. Create clear standards

All blue-collar employees require training to succeed in a job. Women may be hired into manual work professions with lower competencies in some areas since they are less likely to pursue vocational training before entering manual work professions. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) can create a structured, step-by-step process for manual work to scale and automate blue-collar worker training. It also empowers the worker to help themselves in their timing.

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