Recently, Novelis hosted a two-day workshop for nearly 100 women and men from across our North America sites to discuss ways to better attract, engage, retain and advance women at the company. We gained inspiration from many leaders and received their call to action to support diversity and inclusion. From the valuable discussions, we gathered the following key insights.
On Attracting women into manufacturing:
- What do many millennial women entering manufacturing seek in an employer? What motivates them to select one company over another? Simply put, they care about companies that care. Thanks to a panel moderated by The Manufacturing Institute that included women early in their careers from Novelis, AGCO and Shaw Industries, we learned that opening facilities up for community tours, partnering with schools to promote STEM education and robotics competitions, and building Habitat for Humanity homes all represent ways in which companies show care for their communities. With a worker shortage in the U.S., there is no question that companies must differentiate themselves to attract the best talent and community involvement matters.
- Rayona Sharpnack of The Gender Intelligence Group reported research that encouraging women to become more comfortable with sharing their accomplishments leads to a greater number of women raising their hands for open jobs. And, Vanessa Li, Process Leader at our Terre Haute, IN facility, shared the journey that she made from her cultural roots in Hong Kong, where her mother continually reminded her, “we must be humble,” to the realization that self-promotion is necessary for job interviews in the U.S. She referenced the book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, which helped her develop self-promotion skills and advance her career.
On Engaging women and men to reach their full potential:
- Discovering your personal purpose, or your “why,” could directly impact your satisfaction levels at work. Evaluating your unique talents and uniting them with the activities that excite you most could help you unleash your purpose and contribute to an organization in ways you have never imagined. It is a win-win for the employee seeking fulfillment and for the company pursuing its business goals. Cara Kreisman and Rebecca Cullers, from BrightHouse, a company that specializes in helping companies find their purpose, guided us through an introspective exercise like this one.
On the connection between diversity and inclusion and better results:
- Many of us have seen the McKinsey research linking a more diverse workforce to higher profitability. Henning Hahn, Director of Supply Chain, Novelis North America, can testify to this truth. Over the past three years, Henning has increased the percentage of women on his leadership team from 10 percent to more than 35 percent. Over the same period, the team improved against its KPIs, contributing to stronger financial results for the company.
On career development and advancement:
- What feels like your greatest professional failure could later reveal itself to be your richest growth experience and future success, if you persevere and keep an open mind. Cathy Adams, COO & EVP, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, shared with us how a demotion early in her career led to deeper learning and a series of promotions over time. She also reminded us that self-doubt is an inadequate reason to say no to a bigger, less familiar job. This is particularly sound advice for women who tend to only apply for positions for which we believe to be 100% qualified.
- Talking to the voices in your head is not crazy. It is crazy strategic. Dagmar Boggs, President, 7-Eleven Global at the Coca-Cola Company, shared the value of consulting your “inner mentor” for guidance, especially when you’re at difficult crossroads between your career and personal goals, and practicing a frequent internal dialogue to ensure you and those around you are clear on your priorities. She recommends the book, Playing Big, to help women and men master this skill, to which she attributes her ability to successfully lead and negotiate.
Through this experience, we received six keys for women and men to use as we shape the future for Novelis. A special thanks to all of our speakers for their insights, wisdom and guidance.