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Gender parity: A driver for manufacturing success 

Mayka van Acht
gender pay gap

It has been repeatedly proven that a diverse workforce is a successful workforce, and yet a recent report by McKinsey found that only 38 percent of organisations set targets for gender representation. Contributor Mayka van Acht, Vice President Human Resources EMEA – ADM 

This is a surprising figure, especially given the increasing prominence of gender equality on the world stage, but it’s why ADM is particularly proud to be among the first 100 companies globally to announce its commitment to Paradigm for Parity®. As an international movement focusing on addressing the gender gap in corporate leadership roles, Paradigm for Parity® sees us commit to achieving gender balance in our Global Leadership Forum by 2030, with a near-term goal of at least 25 percent representation in all leadership groups. Setting these targets is the first step to holding ourselves publicly accountable for achieving gender parity in our company, and hopefully for inspiring other manufacturers to do the same.

Diversity can’t just be implemented from the top down, however. It has to be embedded within the culture of our whole organisation. To do this, we have introduced several initiatives in addition to our efforts to increase the number of women in senior roles. These include taking steps to address any unconscious bias in the workplace, providing regular progress reports to maintain accountability and positioning women for long-term success through sponsorship and mentoring schemes. Not only will these actions support our wider goal of achieving gender parity, they will also help to create a more inclusive culture, and one that will benefit ADM indefinitely. 

An example of the ways in which we continue to foster this inclusive environment is by creating awareness through our internal articles, where employees from all backgrounds can showcase their incredible work and roles within the ADM family. One of our Bulgarian colleagues, Bistra Nikolaeva Vasileva, recently had the opportunity to shine the light not only on her work as a starch drying operator, but also her wider experiences of being part of the ADM team: “When I first started working at ADM, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to meet the expectations of my co-workers. As the only female operator in a male-dominated environment, I bring different skills to the team and that was daunting at first. My colleagues have been fantastic though, and I know they are always there if I need support.” 

Through these articles, we have been able to collect feedback from people working in manufacturing across the company, and we’re delighted to hear the positive feedback. Another colleague, Cigdem Eltemur, a production planner at our Amylum Nişasta production plant in Turkey, reiterated the closeness that she felt with her team: “We have a strong team and understand the importance of working together to overcome any problems. I am really fortunate to be surrounded by such talented colleagues.” 

Promoting inclusivity and teamwork between co-workers is undoubtedly one of the most important steps in the journey towards creating a diverse manufacturing workforce. With many of our female staff working in traditionally male-dominated fields, we always ensure that their voices are heard alongside the opinion of their colleagues. Sena Akeloğlu, a process engineer located in Adana, Southern Turkey commented that “as the only female engineer at the plant, I feel like I am well supported to progress in my career – this makes me feel motivated in all aspects of my life, not just at work. I’m really proud to be part of a global company, like ADM, that places so much value on its employees.” 

Becoming part of Paradigm for Parity® gives us an excellent opportunity to learn from other organisations, and has made us even more aware of the importance of pushing ourselves to continue to advance towards our goals. We welcome this openness and increased accountability. Keeping our colleagues informed about all aspects of diversity and inclusion programs has always been a priority, and it is important to communicate both the challenges and the successes. By publicly announcing our commitment to Paradigm for Parity®, we are echoing this mindset, just on a larger scale. 

Although achieving gender parity can seem like a challenging task, increased education and further awareness is vital for any manufacturer looking to begin the process. For ADM, we will continue to support diversity in the workplace, diversifying the way we recruit, promoting the sponsorship of talented employees, regardless of gender, and providing updates on our initiatives to ensure commitment from our entire workforce. We strongly encourage other companies to do the same. We are taking this process one step at a time and realise we still have a long journey ahead of us, but in the future, it would be great to achieve gender parity in our Global Leadership Forum and to see the manufacturing industry as a whole make similar progress towards equality.

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