WASHINGTON, -  The Manufacturing Institute and Ingersoll Rand plc (NYSE:IR), a world leader in creating comfortable, sustainable and efficient environments, brought together 200 women in manufacturing for a two-day event, STEP Forward: Charlotte, packed with leadership development sessions, networking, and roundtable discussions.

The Manufacturing Institute launched STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production) Forward to promote the role of women in the manufacturing industry and offer companies a unique opportunity to strengthen their diversity strategies and develop new concepts for advancing and retaining female talent. STEP Forward: Charlotte convened women from all levels of the manufacturing workforce, from the shop floor to the C-suite.

Attendees heard from Michael W. Lamach, chairman and chief executive officer at Ingersoll Rand and Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute, offering solutions and leading best practices. The event mobilized attendees to act as a catalyst for change within their companies and communities.

Filling manufacturing jobs is difficult. According to a report by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, 84 percent of executives agree there is talent shortage in the U.S. manufacturing sector, and 80 percent of manufacturing executives reported they are willing to pay more than market rate salaries and wages in order to secure qualified talent. Still, six out of ten positions remain unfilled due to the talent shortage.

While women make up about 47 percent of the labor force, they represent only 29 percent of the manufacturing workforce. Through STEP Forward, The Manufacturing Institute and Ingersoll Rand are committed to connecting more women with the rewarding, fulfilling and well-paying opportunities that manufacturing offers.

“As leaders in manufacturing, we share a goal to attract the best and brightest talent to the industry – and that includes a critical need to attract, retain and promote more women in manufacturing,” said Michael W. Lamach, chairman and chief executive officer of Ingersoll Rand.

“Research shows that gender diversity in manufacturing yields big returns on and off the balance sheet and is necessary for the long-term sustainability and success of the manufacturing industry.”

“Companies across the U.S. agree there is a talent shortage in manufacturing. STEP Forward is working to close this gap by providing women opportunities to cultivate rewarding careers in manufacturing,” said Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute. “The women participating in this event demonstrate what modern manufacturing careers are all about: making an impact in their communities with meaningful careers that offer significant opportunities for growth.”

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