By LauraLee Rose, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager & Six Sigma Black Belt
Until last month, I’d never heard of Brazen. On the last day of last month, I was honored to participate in a roundtable with a group of Brazen entrepreneurs interested in manufacturing and supply chain/distribution.
Brazen is a dynamic community of women entrepreneurs boldly starting and growing their businesses and tapping into a powerful network of like-minded women in business. The community provides access to a wide array of resources to help women entrepreneurs leverage best-practice tools and feel supported on their entrepreneurial journey. (Learn more: https://brazenglobal.com/)
Those who know me can appreciate why I might like a group of women referring to themselves as Brazen, because I’ve been accused of being a bit brazen myself from time to time! In a male dominated manufacturing world, I consider it to be one of my strengths, and it’s been a necessary part of my long-term success in the industry.
But back to this amazing Brazen roundtable. These were a handful of female business owners ranging from those who were just starting their business, to one who was planning to expand her business nationwide. What an inspiring group and what a rush to talk to women about my experience in manufacturing!
The need for women in manufacturing, as I’ve said before, is more vital than it has been since World War II and the time of Rosie the Riveter. It’s estimated that there will be around two million manufacturing jobs available in the next decade. Women currently make up 47% of the US labor force, but a mere 27% in manufacturing.
A 2017 study by the Manufacturing Institute, APICS and Deloitte found that manufacturing companies with gender diversity were more profitable. This study stated that women offered “more diverse perspectives in decision making” as well as “more innovative and creative approaches and solutions.” This is not news to most women and moms who have been problem-solving and hyper multi-tasking well… since forever.
I shared some of my 30 years’ experience in manufacturing with the Brazen group, including times in the early 2000’s when I’d suggest something in a meeting full of men and be totally ignored. Ten minutes later a male in the group would say the exact same thing and get credit for a great idea! How frustrating. I sometimes worried that I was invisible.
So, what was my advice? Have a plan at the outset. Put systems into place right now, so that when you grow, the processes are already in place. This means setting up processes for finances, quality, logistics, etc. And not getting so bogged down in the details that you lose sight of the big picture. According to a 2017 article on inc.com, “Growing too quickly can be just as dangerous to your business as not growing at all.”
Lest you missed the connection, let me repeat two important statements. 1: The study by the Manufacturing Institute, APICS and Deloitte found that manufacturing companies with gender diversity were more profitable. 2: It’s estimated there will be around two million manufacturing jobs available in the next decade. It’s time to embrace the idea of bringing talented women into your manufacturing workforce.
(Captions: LauraLee Rose at the Brazen round table in St. Louis talking to women entrepreneurs about manufacturing and the supply chain.)
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