Develop, Empower, Advance: Making the Case for Supporting the Women of Our Industry

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6/3/2024

Supporting WomenBy Sara Feuling, AEM Senior Director of Construction —

Trends indicate that the population of adults aged 55 and older is growing steadily, while the populace aged 16 to 24 is rapidly declining. Factoring in current labor force participation rates, or the percentage of working-age people that are either working or actively looking for workthe United States will see more people leaving the labor force than they see people entering it. It’s a significant problem, and it’s one that’s only going to continue to get worse in the months and years ahead. 

Current data also shows that the prime-age male workforce (aged 25-55) dropped nearly 10% from 1980 to the present. We’re seeing greater numbers of men voluntarily leaving the labor market or opting to pursue part-time employment amid shifts in social norms. At the same time, the participation rate of prime age women continues to grow. We’re now seeing more women entering the labor force than men, which bodes well for the future of the equipment manufacturing industry. 

According to Forbes, “female entrepreneurs outperform their male counterparts Companies founded or co-founded by women do better along several dimensions than companies started by men. Women founders tend to build businesses that generate more revenues, create higher job growth, dream bigger, and execute better.” 

However, the benefits of recognizing and embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) extend far beyond just founders and entrepreneurs. Companies that have invested in, empowered, and advanced women into leadership positions are recognizing the value of gathering a diverse array of backgrounds and perspectives to spur greater levels of productivity and value.

AEM member company Volvo is bringing idea to life by committing to a workforce consisting of 35% female employees (in each department, in each division, and as leaders within the company) by 2030. Bolstered by its Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) initiative, Volvo is on a mission to: 

  • Empower and mentor women to drive positive change in their professional lives.
  • Provide opportunities for development
  • Use the network for increased visibility and information for its members
  • Advocate broadly about gender diversity issues and opportunities 

More than 50 women from Volvo Construction Equipment, plus guests from Volvo Trucks and Mack Trucks, recently gathered for a workshop meant to foster networking and peer-to-peer learning. The event focused on building a keen sense of connection among one another, the company, and the industry.

The workshop reinforced the idea that connection with our peers is how we build genuine, authentic, and impactful relationships. Without it, however, we can’t expect to be able to consistently relate to the next generation of employees entering the labor force. It’s why so many AEM member companies beyond Volvo have worked to incorporate DE&I and gender diversity initiatives into their businesses, as well as built strong networks to support the talented women they employ. These women have brought tangible benefits to their companies – dreaming bigger and executing better – while also addressing the ever-present and ongoing industry skills gap. 

Gender diversity is no longer optional, and it goes beyond the mere presence of women on staff, as managers and executives, and on a board of directors. A focus on DE&I is also a necessity these days. Coupled together, they present companies with the opportunity to attract talent, retain their workforce, ensure a strong organizational culture, and support the betterment of the industry.  

It may not be easy, and success may not happen quickly. However, progress can be made, as evidenced by the success of Volvo’s Women’s Inclusion Network and other member company initiatives like it. Ultimately, as we’re all starting to learn, the time for talk is done. Now is the time for action! 

For more perspectives from AEM staff, subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor.  

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