Women in Manufacturing, Representation Matters
Manufacturing companies today are all experiencing difficulty in finding workers. According to a study, conducted by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, they state that as many as 2.1 million manufacturing jobs in the USA will go unfulfilled by 2030. For over 80 years, O’Keeffe’s/SAFTI FIRST has been a manufacturer of architectural building products, fire rated glass (SAFTI FIRST) and ladders (O’Keeffe’s), here in America. We are concerned about this finding for our country and for ourselves. We must find solutions to this labor shortage in manufacturing.
One way to address this is to study where the opportunities to correct this shortage are – one obvious avenue is hiring more women in manufacturing jobs. The US Department of Commerce reported that although women make up nearly “50%” of the working population, there are only “30%” of women represented in manufacturing, and only “25%” employed as leaders in manufacturing. This at a time where manufacturing is higher paying, increasingly safe, clean and more high-tech due to advances in automation. There is no better time for the manufacturing industry to encourage women to join, receive training and see themselves engaged in this exciting and fulfilling industry.
How can we as an industry recruit more women in manufacturing? One way is to have all companies involved in manufacturing shine a spotlight on the women currently in manufacturing jobs and women leaders. Highlighting the accomplishments of these women who are thriving in manufacturing jobs will encourage other women to enter the field. The subject of this blog hopes to help accomplish this goal. The first candidate that we at O’Keeffe’s/SAFTI FIRST wish to spotlight is Tayler Myers, the shop supervisor for our O’Keeffe’s Ladder division.
Tayler joined our ladder manufacturing team in 2016, starting in the assembly department. Not long after, she developed an interest in welding. “My husband is a welder, and I’ve always found it intriguing,” says Tayler. “There is definitely an art to it. It’s real craftsmanship, so I made it my goal to not just learn how to do it, but to master the craft and all the variations.”
After receiving training from her husband, she started to hone her skills in the shop. After a year and half, she became a full-time certified TIG/MIG welder for the O’Keeffe’s ladder division.
She continued to flourish in the shop and in 2020, was chosen as supervisor to lead the shop, joining a long list of women supervisors at O’Keeffe’s/SAFTI FIRST. Overseeing all daily operations of this division and the 25 ladder shop mechanics that make these ladder ladders and related products, some quite custom. Her responsibilities include seeing that all orders are on schedule, improving production lead times, speed and efficiency. While increasing and maintaining high quality standards, managing inventory and equipment, as well as training and development of the shop team members. “I am a mom of six, so I am used to multitasking,” Tayler explained. “I spend most of my time fielding questions from different departments. That’s where multitasking comes in very handy.” Even as she has moved up in the ranks, she still enjoys working on the shop floor. “When I have time, I love nothing more than to punch, weld or build ladders alongside my production team.”
When asked about her management philosophy, she says “it’s pretty simple actually. Lead by example and work hard. Provide guidance and support. Remind employees that we are thankful for them, and as a team, we can make anything happen!”
Tayler has been a great asset as a leader and has helped O’Keeffe’s/SAFTI FIRST to expand the line of fixed aluminum access, ship and cage ladders. And she has proven invaluable in our expansion into custom aluminum stairs, platforms, catwalks, ramps and more.
By publicizing Tayler’s story, we hope it will encourage more women to see and explore manufacturing jobs. Let’s continue to hire and raise women up in our organizations so that they are inspired, challenged and able to reach their potential. We would wish that all of us involved in manufacturing or involved in the construction industry can agree to publicize their women in manufacturing/construction megaphoning their efforts and accomplishments. By spreading the word of these successes by women, we may be able to increase their participation and in turn help solve the problems of a lack of employment resources.