President & CEO, CME
Sales and Applications Engineer, Berg Chilling
Quality Manager, Labatt Breweries Canada
March 7th marks the start of the three-day, highly anticipated 6th Annual Women in Manufacturing Success Forum by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.
With the intention to increase the number of women in manufacturing, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) is excited to offer their forum again this year. Taking place entirely online over the course of three days, more than 500 participants will get to hear from industry leaders, engage in panel discussions, and network with peers. It’s Canada’s largest conference that’s dedicated to empowering, advancing, and supporting women in this field.
The sessions will focus on what manufacturers can do to employ and retain more women in the workplace. Labour and skills shortages are the biggest issue facing the sector today, and the largest untapped hiring pool is women. Old stereotypes are being broken – last year, there were 521,000 women working in Canadian manufacturing, which is a record high since 2018.
Projecting continued growth and increased opportunities, CME wants to raise the number of women in manufacturing by 100,000 by 2030. “The transition to net-zero and digitalization is expected to create new jobs that will require upskilling and reskilling to prepare our workforce,” says Dennis Darby, CME’s President and CEO.
They’re trying to end a longstanding history of being a traditionally male workspace by listening to the needs of female workers and making necessary improvements. A notable resource is their Gender Inclusion and Diversity Toolkit, which provides a wealth of useful information to make a workplace more inclusive for everyone. They also provide Women in Leadership Training and various other initiatives to support women’s advancement.
“So, our work is clearly not over,” Darby adds. “We ask that Ottawa also focus on renewing and increasing funding programs to encourage more underrepresented groups to seek opportunities in manufacturing.”
Find fulfilling employment
They’re maintaining momentum via the virtual 6th Annual Women in Manufacturing Success Forum from March 7th-9th. It’s through opportunities like these that more women will find meaningful work in an industry they may not be initially considering. “Manufacturing wasn’t my first choice when I graduated. I was a new grad trying to get my foot in the door and I ended up in the industry,” says Alexandra Salzmann, a Sales and Applications Engineer at Berg Chilling. “I’m glad I did because I never realized what an interesting career being in manufacturing could be. The behind-the-scenes look at how everyday products are made is fascinating to me.”
A Quality Manager at Labatt Breweries Canada, Angela Jessop wants young female students to know that “manufacturing isn’t dark, dingy, or dangerous — it’s exciting, ever changing, and you’ll never be bored. There’s always opportunity for continuous improvement.”
Young women may be hesitant to try for these manufacturing jobs but there certainly is a place for them and their skills are needed.
Jessop was the recipient of CME Nova Scotia’s 2022 Women in Manufacturing Leadership Award. “Young women may be hesitant to try for these manufacturing jobs but there certainly is a place for them and their skills are needed.”
To attend CME’s 6th Annual Women in Manufacturing Success Forum, or to access services and learn more, check out the Gender Inclusion and Diversity Toolkit at cme-mec.ca.