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Diversity and Inclusion: What You Need to Know

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If you’re a manufacturer looking to begin—or improve—your diversity and inclusion efforts, you’ll need some expert advice. That’s why The Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers—hosted a virtual summit recently on D&I development, drawing together a variety of experts in one comprehensive event. Now you can watch the event online, and to get you started, we’ll give you a quick overview.

Why it matters: Manufacturing workers are deeply diverse in all sorts of ways: age, gender, race and ethnicity, ability and sexual orientation—not to mention education, life experience and socioeconomic background. To be competitive, businesses must be able to connect with the skills and experiences of a wide range of communities.

The main events: The first day of the summit was broken down into several “dimensions” of D&I, each with its own panel of experts:

  • Race Dimension: Representatives from HBCU Connect, Pfizer and Ingredion discussed how leaders can promote racial equity in their companies and communities—including by setting measurable hiring goals and increasing internal candidate development.
  • Ability Dimension: Panelists from Autism Speaks, Stanley Black & Decker and Lee Container Corporation discussed their work with manufacturers to create 1 million employment and leadership opportunities by 2025 for people with autism and intellectual and/or developmental differences. The panelists highlighted data showing how neuro-diverse individuals strengthen the workforce overall.
  • Sexual Orientation Dimension: Representatives of Out Leadership and Dow spoke about how manufacturers can stand up for LGBT+ equality and D&I overall. They recommended supporting LGBT+ equality by being vocal allies and signing on to court cases that protect LGBT+ rights. They also talked about why bringing your whole self to the workplace is critical.
  • Military Dimension: Panelists from the MI, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and Johnson & Johnson discussed how manufacturers can connect directly to transitioning service members, veterans, the National Guard, reservists and active-duty military spouses, including through programs like the MI’s Heroes MAKE America—an integrated training, certification and career-readiness initiative.
  • Gender Dimension: Panelists from the MI, Fresenius Medical Care North America and BASF Corporation discussed the steps companies can take to support women in manufacturing—such as creating supportive women-led networks within their businesses and ensuring uniforms are available in female sizes. They also noted the critical progress made so far by programs like the MI’s STEP Women’s Initiative and through local employee resource groups.
  • Age Dimension: With one-quarter of the manufacturing workforce over 55 years old, manufacturers must adapt to the needs of older workers. Panelists from AARP, ALOM and Winton Machine Company discussed the importance of two-way learning and how creating mentor–mentee relationships between younger and older employees can build a stronger workforce.

And that’s not all. . . Day Two featured an executive panel titled “Voices from Leadership,” with leaders from the MI, Arconic, Intel Corporation and Deloitte. It also included a goals-oriented panel called “Building D&I Into Team and Individual Goals,” featuring speakers from the MI, BP America, Trane Technologies and Covestro, which focused on how to put this work into practice.

The last word: “We need to close the racial inequities and the gaps that we have in our society because it is the right thing to do, but it is also the economic imperative for our sector,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “We need more people—and the workforce of the future is going to look different than the workforce of today.”

Workforce

Manufacturing Institute Partnership Enhances Railroad’s Hiring Reach

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Union Pacific is seeking a more diverse workforce as it strives to continue “building America,” as it says. To do so, it is partnering with The Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s workforce development and education partner, on a $3 million three-year joint initiative. Beth Whited, who serves as executive vice president and chief human resource officer at Union Pacific, recently told us more about these ambitious plans.

The details: The initiative, called Careers on Track, will work to inspire more women and youth to pursue modern industry careers. The funding supports workforce development and career solutions that will include:

  • A new digital STEM curriculum;
  • A virtual STEM experience—in which participants can “choose their own adventure” while exploring interactive 3D models of a real facility, locomotive and more;
  • A STEM micro-grant program for young people; and
  • A digital campaign showcasing industry career opportunities for underserved women in select regions.

Ultimately, Union Pacific intends to double the number of women in the UP workforce within the next 10 years.

Why partnerships matter: “These types of partnerships are important for us because they broaden our reach,” says Whited. “We run pilot programs of our own, but it’s difficult for us to make those available in every school in our served territory. With the MI’s broad reach and established programs, we can reach more women and youth than we could on our own.”

The scope: Whited likes to remind people that nearly everything in their homes moves by rail at some point, whether as a raw material or as a finished product. That also means there is a wide range of jobs involved, from skilled roles in transportation and manufacturing to civil, electrical and computer engineering—jobs that involve designing more fuel-efficient locomotives or building the freight cars of the future.

The tech: “People who don’t know much about railroads are always surprised by the level of high tech that’s employed,” says Whited. “Railroads have been around for 160 years plus, and so people think about it as old technology, but it absolutely isn’t.

  • “You’ve got unbelievable signaling systems run everything safely, next-level optimization tools that determine how and when trains run, sophisticated technology in the 4,500 horsepower locomotives that we use to haul freight and so much more. The level of tech and advanced analytics and machine technology is usually quite startling to people.”

The pitch: Whited has advice for women who are unsure about working in a traditionally male-dominated field. “I would tell people to challenge their own thinking,” says Whited. “There aren’t jobs that are for men and jobs that are for women; there are jobs—and these are great jobs with great benefits that will help you fulfill your goals and give you a sense of pride. Come try it.”

The last word: As MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee said about this partnership, “There are nearly 500,000 job openings right now in manufacturing and millions more expected over the next decade. Closing the gender gap and building awareness with young people are critical to meeting this incredible need.”

Workforce

Creators Wanted Kicks Off Virtual Campaign

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Creators Wanted, the pioneering workforce initiative from the NAM and MI, is adapting to the changing environment to continue its critical work to reduce the skills gap and end misperceptions about modern manufacturing.

What’s happening:
We’ve gone virtual! The NAM and MI are still doing the Creators Wanted Tour, but they have exchanged in-person experiences for virtual ones (at least for now). The upside: these events will now be accessible to many more people.

What’s the plan: We’re kicking off our first virtual event on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 10:00 a.m. EST. It will give you a sneak preview of what to expect during our Creators Wanted virtual events this year. (Click here for more information and to register.) After that, the NAM and MI will be making their way across the country, with virtual events aimed at different geographical areas.

What’s new and important:

  • The NAM—with the MI’s support and leadership—has launched the Pledge for Action. It’s a commitment by manufacturers to take real, tangible steps to reflect the diversity of the U.S. workforce over the next decade. Taking the Pledge and supporting Creators Wanted are great ways for manufacturers to help close the opportunity gap.
  • We’re collecting stories of creators around the country! Tell us about an amazing creator you know by visiting creatorswanted.org/shareyourstory.

Who’s it for: “Everyone! Well, we wouldn’t mind if everyone heard our message,” said NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas. “But the NAM and MI specifically want to reach out to people who are ready to explore a career in manufacturing now. Maybe they’ve lost a job in the pandemic and are looking for a new career, or perhaps they’re already involved in manufacturing but want to gain the skills that will take them to the next level.”

  • The NAM and MI also want to reach veterans and people who are underrepresented in manufacturing, including women, Black people and all communities of color.
  • And, of course, the initiative intends to connect with young people, the next generation of creators.

Picking up where we left off: “The NAM and MI set big goals with Creators Wanted in 2020—to improve perceptions of manufacturing, reduce the skills gap and get more people into manufacturing career paths,” said Kefalas. “On Feb. 2, we will demonstrate that we can hit these goals with a new combination of virtual events, digital experiences and eventually in-person activations.”

But that’s not all… “The event will cover how we’re going to expand our impact, as well as exceed sponsor expectations. You won’t want to miss it.”

Business Operations

The Story Behind “This Is Our Shot”

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The NAM and The Manufacturing Institute have launched a large-scale project to promote vaccination among manufacturing workers and communities, called “This Is Our Shot.”

As NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons describes it, “This project builds on our months of work advocating the use of face masks and other smart health measures to protect all Americans . . . . Now is our opportunity as a country to end this pandemic. Our future depends on all of us rolling up our sleeves and getting armed against COVID-19.”

So how did they make it happen? We recently talked to NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas about the inside story.

Why: As Kefalas puts it, “We have a crisis. Depending on which study you look at, between 30% to 40% of Americans say they will not get a COVID-19 vaccine. We have to take direct aim now at vaccine hesitancy; otherwise, we’ll have safe and effective vaccines and not enough people willing to get them to reach heard immunity.”

Why the NAM and the MI? The NAM, along with its workforce development and education partner, the MI, has a “singular power” to leverage manufacturing’s unifying position as a trusted community resource, Kefalas explains.

How: In the spirit of manufacturers everywhere, let’s take a look at how this project got made.

  • First, the research: “We’ve relied on a wide range of suggestions and guidance, from manufacturers of all sizes and all sectors. We’ve also sought recommendations from the Gates Foundation, the CDC and other public health leaders,” says Kefalas.
  • Second, the reach: “We’re engaging company medical officers, local health care providers and community members who can change hearts and minds about COVID-19 vaccination.”
  • Third, the sights: “It’s going to take videos, photos, flyers, posters, emails—and other very visible signs that others are getting armed against COVID-19.”
  • Fourth, the psychology: Research shows that a sense of group loyalty or patriotism can boost vaccination numbers, Kefalas explains. To create that sense of solidarity (and social influence), the NAM and MI will distribute red and yellow ribbon pins for those who get vaccinated—and encourage people to put up red and yellow ribbons outside their homes once their whole households have received the vaccine.

What can you do? The initiative is providing manufacturers with communications materials to share with their teams. As Kefalas says, clear, consistent and direct communication from employers and peers really helps. “And when you are conveying medical information, rely on the experts like medical officers and direct people to their medical providers,” Kefalas suggests.

All we need is love: In case you missed it, the first video in this initiative dropped yesterday, a charming short called “I Love Frank.” Kefalas explains the idea: “Caring for others is really the one message that seemed to resonate across all demographic groups. Vaccinations should be really simple, because it comes down to one thing: we want to protect the people we love.” You can’t say it any better than that.

Press Releases

As COVID-19 Infections Hit 100 Million People Worldwide, Manufacturers Launch Counterassault

“This Is Our Shot” Seeks to Boost COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance

Washington, D.C. – As worldwide cases of COVID-19 reached a sobering new milestone of 100 million people, the National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education partner of the NAM—are launching a new project taking direct aim at vaccine hesitancy and stopping the virus in its tracks by convincing more Americans to prepare to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This project follows the NAM’s nearly year-long campaign imploring Americans to follow CDC guidelines, such as wearing a mask and social distancing.

The project, called “This Is Our Shot,” seeks to boost COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among manufacturing team members, their families and their communities through a multifaceted national campaign. With another grave milestone breached and the virus mutating, the country’s response and recovery is depending on manufacturing workers more than ever.

As part of the launch, the NAM released “I Love Frank,” a public service announcement highlighting why manufacturers are rolling up their sleeves to get a COVID-19 vaccine: to protect their family, coworkers and the people they love. The PSA will run across various social media and digital platforms and is the first in a series that will be released in 2021.

“One hundred million people have now been impacted by this horrible disease. Asking all Americans to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated against COVID-19 is a pivotal step toward stopping this upward trend, putting millions of people back to work and eradicating this virus. That’s why today the National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute launched ‘This is Our Shot,’ to get more people armed against COVID-19 and to protect the people we care about,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

“This project builds on our months of work advocating the use of face masks and other smart health measures to protect all Americans as we continue to share our insights with the Biden administration and state officials to help defeat COVID-19. Now is our opportunity as a country to end this pandemic. Our future depends on all of us rolling up our sleeves and getting armed against COVID-19.”

Background:

The project, live at NAM.org/ThisIsOurShot, includes six main components: (1) science-based messaging research; (2) emergency industry convening and education, such as webinars; (3) an online vaccine information hub; (4) a PSA campaign; (5) a Yellow and Red Ribbon initiative (for vaccinated individuals to show their peers they’re a part of the fight); and (6) a rapid response media and digital campaign. Resources available at NAM.org/ThisIsOurShot will be updated regularly, providing the latest information and tools for vaccine outreach and access.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.3 million men and women, contributes $2.32 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

NAM and Manufacturing Institute Announce Key Promotions

Washington, D.C. – As the National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute, the nonprofit workforce development and education partner of the NAM, continue to provide transformational support for the industry, the organizations announced key promotions to multiple divisions.

Among those being promoted at the NAM is Ken Monahan, to Vice President of International Economic Affairs after serving as a member of the policy team since 2015.

“Ken has been a pivotal member of our team during a volatile trade policy environment and adeptly helped our members navigate through it,” said NAM President and CEO and MI Chairman of the Board Jay Timmons. “He took on complex issues created by the pandemic and was instrumental in our successful campaign in support of U.S. congressional passage of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. His expertise and experience will help manufacturers shape trade policy as we work with the incoming Biden administration.”

Additional promotions in the NAM’s policy, communications and membership divisions, as well as the Manufacturing Leadership Council, include the following:

  • Kristie Arslan has been promoted to Senior Director of Member and Board Relations.
  • Charles Crain has been promoted to Senior Director of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy.
  • Alyssa Dixon has been promoted to Associate Director of Conference Operations.
  • Nina Hawkins has been promoted to Senior Director of Membership Operations.
  • Brian James has been promoted to Senior Director of Conference Operations.
  • Susie Larson has been promoted to Manager in the Office of the President.
  • Kevin Mullooly has been promoted to Director of Editorial.
  • Joe Murphy has been promoted to Associate Director of Rapid Response.
  • Megan Stewart has been promoted to Assistant Vice President of Membership.
  • Dan Witherington has been promoted to Director of Council Development within the MLC.

The MI announced that Herb Grant has been named its new Vice President of Operations after serving as Director of the NAM’s Creators Wanted initiative, responsible for the operations of the manufacturing’s largest campaign to change perceptions and close the skills gap, and in recent months the Creators Respond effort, which helped mobilize and support the industry’s response to COVID-19.

“The need to attract and retain a skilled workforce continues to be manufacturers’ top concern according to the NAM’s quarterly Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, and the MI and the Creators Wanted campaign is needed more than ever to help close the skills gap facing our nation’s manufacturers as they work to produce needed supplies to battle the pandemic. Herb’s industry experience was vital to the national response in the past several months, and now as we look at what is needed to spur our economic recovery, he will serve an important role in accelerating and expanding the impact of the MI,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “The tremendous expansion of the MI’s work in the past year speaks to those priorities, and this new position will lead an effort to build and expand the MI’s operational systems and processes to drive the mission execution and support the annual delivery of the MI’s programs.”

Additional promotions at the MI include the following:

  • Jen White has been promoted to Senior Program Manager on the Heroes MAKE America team.
  • Alexandra Becker has been promoted to Manager on the Workforce team.

“Manufacturers’ ability to meet the needs of the country and be the arsenal of democracy in the most challenging year since the great recession has been on full display,” said Timmons. “The NAM and MI’s leadership throughout the pandemic is made possible by the people that comprise our best-in-class staff. Each one of these individuals has gone above and beyond their current roles and repeatedly delivered results for manufacturers in America. In their new roles, they will be an integral part of moving our industry forward beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing the challenges in the years ahead.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.3 million men and women, contributes $2.33 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

-Manufacturing Institute-

The MI grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The MI’s diverse initiatives support all workers in America, including women, veterans and students, through skills training programs, community building and the advancement of their career in manufacturing. As the workforce development and education partner of the NAM, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges. For more information on the MI, please visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/.

Workforce

A Hero Finds a Quality Career

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Nicole Reyna’s professional journey—from college student to Army sergeant to senior quality assurance technologist at Smithfield Foods—wasn’t one she had planned. But thanks to The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program, it’s one that has brought her where she wants to be. Initially, Reyna was interested in medicine and went to college to become a medical assistant. Shortly before graduation, however, she had an experience that changed her mind.

“I was two months from graduating that program, and I was working on removing stitches—and that’s when I realized I was not what you would call a ‘medically inclined person,’” Reyna said.

Instead, she spoke to recruiters at her local mall and ended up joining the U.S. Army, where she served for 12 years in logistics and quality assurance. When she left the military in 2019, she had only 90 days to find a job. And while she was enrolled in Department of Defense program that teaches veterans about resume building and job searching, she ran into a Heroes MAKE America program manager sitting outside the door, giving feedback on job candidates’ LinkedIn profiles and talking about a certified manufacturing program.

“It was a chance thing,” said Reyna. “But the Heroes program was fantastic. They walked through your resume; they help you write your resume; we’d do mock interviews. You go through The Manufacturing Institute’s certification process. And every week, we would go to manufacturing facilities and see what they look like—how robotics work, how generators are built, how food is manufactured. It was very comprehensive.”

The program managers were also highly engaged in ensuring Reyna found a role. When she was initially passed over for a position at a Smithfield distribution center, Reyna’s program manager called the company’s talent acquisition executive to make sure Reyna could receive an interview. After a conversation, Smithfield decided to find Reyna a role—and today, Reyna is one of three senior quality assurance technologists for one of Smithfield’s large distribution centers.

After her experience, Reyna has one piece of advice for people considering the Heroes program: Do it.

“The opportunities afforded to you are insane,” said Reyna. “When you don’t do these programs, you’re thrown to the wolves. At the Heroes program, you have resume assistance, you see facilities, you get to meet with people and speak with hiring managers. And if we put in a resume somewhere, we’d tell our program managers we applied and they’d call to follow up. It’s invaluable.”

Workforce

Workers Without BAs Could Be Earning Much More

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About 30 million American workers without four-year college degrees have the skills necessary for jobs that pay 70% more than their current roles, according to a new study cited by The New York Times (subscription).

The opportunity: “The findings point to the potential of upward mobility for millions of Americans, who might be able to climb from low-wage jobs to middle-income occupations or higher.”

  • “Our research shows the same thing,” said Manufacturing Institute Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Gardner Carrick. “We know that less than half the people that earn a manufacturing certification go to work in manufacturing. Those people have the skills to work in manufacturing, but are not doing so. And we know that is costing them between $10K–$15K in earnings every year.”

The challenge: These workers may not know they have the skills for more lucrative careers, and potential employers may be on the lookout for particular certifications or degrees. Today, two-thirds of jobs require some postsecondary education or training—whether that involves a four-year college degree, or a specialized technical or nontechnical course that prepares a potential employee for their role.

A way forward: The Manufacturing Institute’s FAME program offers students the opportunity to earn a two-year associate degree while working in their sponsor’s manufacturing facility as an Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT).

The pitch: “The FAME program enables people to maximize their earnings, because we don’t just build skills—we teach individuals to be world-class manufacturing employees,” said Carrick. “A recent study by Opportunity America and the Brookings Institution showed that FAME students are more than twice as likely to complete school as students in other similar technical programs and will earn almost twice as much as those students in the five years after school.”

Press Releases

Manufacturers Congratulate McDonough on VA Nomination

Timmons: "He brings a focused, collaborative approach to any mission, and he has proven a strong commitment to our nation’s veterans"

Washington, D.C. – Following President-elect Joe Biden’s announcement nominating Denis McDonough for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released this statement:

“Throughout his career, Denis McDonough has proven to be a leader of extraordinary capability. He brings a focused, collaborative approach to any mission, and he has proven a strong commitment to our nation’s veterans. We congratulate him on this announcement.

“Through The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America initiative, manufacturers are working every day to help our veterans and members of the military community find new careers in modern manufacturing. We have been working with the VA to support the veteran community in translating their skills into new opportunities in our industry. We look forward to working with Secretary-designate McDonough and the VA in the Biden administration to build on this work—supporting our heroes and strengthening manufacturing in America.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.2 million men and women, contributes $2.35 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 62% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

About the MI

The MI grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The MI’s diverse initiatives support all workers in America, including women, veterans and students, through skills training programs, community building and the advancement of their career in manufacturing. As the workforce development and education partner of the NAM, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges. For more information on the MI, please visit creatorswanted.org 

About Heroes MAKE America

Heroes MAKE America, an initiative launched by the MI to build connections between the military community and manufacturing industry, is a Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge approved training program that equips participants with the skills and certifications needed to find and excel in manufacturing careers. Service members, their families, veterans and reservists are eligible for the program which currently operates at military installations in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky and Kansas. The Heroes team recently launched Heroes Connect, a 100 percent virtual offering that allows prospective talent from the military community to connect with hiring managers from manufacturing companies. The new offering was created to supplement a cornerstone of the Heroes program which was to provide weekly tours of manufacturing facilities looking to hire Heroes graduates. For more information on Heroes initiative, please visit themanufacturinginstitute.org/veterans/heroes-make-america

Workforce

A Manufacturing Leader Shares What She’s Learned

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As more women enter the manufacturing industry every day, they need guidance from those who have already succeeded. Luckily, BASF Corporation Senior Vice President of Chemical Intermediates North America Erika Peterman is happy and proud to show the way.

Peterman is the 2020 chair of The Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards, which recognize accomplished women in manufacturing from the shop floor to the C-suite. She also works with BASF to increase the number of female leaders within the company, recognizing that strong female leadership brings value to corporations, as a study from MSCI shows. BASF is also a proud sponsor of the STEP Ahead Awards and participates in many programs that encourage women and girls to enter this rewarding field.

So what does Peterman have to say to women who are just starting out? Here is her advice, courtesy of a recent email interview.

1. Don’t underestimate your abilities.

As a young engineer, I was once called in to solve a problem affecting distillation operations. After chatting with the control room technician, I asked her to run a little test, opening and closing various valves while also recording process flows and temperatures. It took only 20 minutes (enough time for a pleasant conversation about weekend plans), after which I shared the solution with my boss.

That 20-minute test had a big impact on my career. Later that afternoon, my boss told me that the team had struggled with this problem since before I took the job. Had I worried about how my solution measured up to previous ideas, I may never have solved it at all.

2. Be prepared to be tested, but stay calm and trust you belong.

Women have earned a seat at the table, but unfortunately, some people will challenge you anyway. Later in my career, when I worked in product management, my boss’s boss told me my salary was “much higher” than my counterparts’. I was thrown, but I knew my response would matter not only to me, but to other women who looked up to me as a role model.

I told myself to stay calm and responded that he should consider placing me in a higher-level role commensurate with my compensation. Of course, I’d done the market research and knew I wasn’t overpaid. I also knew this boss had a reputation for trying to catch people off guard—but this time, he was the one who didn’t know what to say! To this day, I’m proud of how I managed that conversation. I knew I had to defend myself, because if I didn’t, no one else would.

3. Learn to listen and become comfortable with not being the expert in the room.

I have so many examples for this that it’s hard to choose just one. Everyone has points in their career when they do not know all the answers, and that is okay. The key is to be confident in what you do know and comfortable going to others to ask for assistance.

Considering multiple perspectives and forging strong alliances within your organization are the keys to driving progress and innovation. Let go of your ego to allow for clarity of thought and action, and it will set you apart from others.

Check out the STEP Women’s Initiative and the STEP Ahead Awards here.

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