I have often heard, at many industry conferences, print spoken in terms of relevancy. As someone who regularly speaks to a variety of audiences, I can tell you without a doubt that print is more relevant than ever. In a world where the majority of communications lack authenticity and true engagement, print stands out like never before.
The area where print lacks relevancy isn’t in the medium—it’s in the lack of diversity. The sad truth is, the printing industry hasn’t kept up with the times when it comes to diversity and inclusion, an important factor that forty-seven percent of millennials consider when sizing up potential employers. The largest discrepancy exists between female employees and female print media students.
As illustrated in the PRIMIR Study Attracting New Talent to the Print Industry produced by the Association for PRINT Technologies, females only represented 40% of the workforce in the print industry in 2018. Amazingly, female students account for 80% of students enrolled in print education programs.
So, why the stark contrast? In an industry hungry for a skilled workforce to fill the gaps as trusted craftsmen retire, why isn’t more of an effort being put towards making print look attractive for this specific group of people declaring interest in our industry?
As a female who’s been connected to the print industry for more than 15 years, I can honestly say that print has a lot to offer and can be a rewarding career, regardless of gender. Here are 4 ways we can attract more females to print:
Pay More Attention to Students
Today’s print media student will be tomorrow’s employee in just a few short years, yet they’re often easily dismissed at tradeshows and industry event. The next time you’re at an industry event, spend a little extra time on student day and to talk to the next generation of female industry leaders, share your experience and welcome them to print. Don’t constantly stay in “mentor mode”—ask what attracted them to the industry and what they’re looking for in an employer. You can learn as much from them as they can learn from you.
Empower Females to Breathe New Life into Your Company Culture
We’ve all heard the advice of countless speakers telling printers to appeal to millennials by offering such menial perks as Free Beer Friday. The truth is, millennials have grown up—what they found appealing when they were living in a college dorm room may not tip the scale now that they are adults and possibly parents. By including a variety of people on teams to shape company culture (including women), your company will be more likely to create solutions that appeal to a wider array of potential employees that are different than the people that currently work for you—and you will probably attract new customers too.
Pay Attention to Your Tone
The next time you’re mentoring a female colleague or speaking to another female at a tradeshow, pay attention to your tone and what you say. Do you find that you speak to females differently? Do you show them the same amount of respect during conversations as you do your male counterparts? If you’re not sure what to look for, the incredibly popular blog post from Print Media Centr Now Trending in Print: Mansplaining the Women’s Movement is a great read. As leaders in print, others in the industry look up to you as an example. And, if change is needed, it can be to your benefit; companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to outperform others.
Make Women Feel Welcome
Newer generations view the meaning of the word “diversity” differently than many baby boomers and Gen Xers. Today’s definition of a diverse workplace extends beyond age, gender, religion, race and physical ability. It’s about how different viewpoints are accepted and valued. In short, they are looking for an environment that’s welcoming and collaborative where individuals feel respected and comfortable sharing their viewpoints and experiences.
In a male-dominated industry, where women in body paint and scantily-clad outfits still had a presence at industry events in 2018, it’s obvious to any bystander why a young female might not feel welcome. As many spread the images on social media outlets, the first place where today’s potential employees look to “size up” the values of a potential employer, the effect extends far beyond the tradeshow floor.
The truth is, “diversity” is more than simply a nice idea. Truly celebrating diversity and inclusion is what the print industry must do in order to attract much needed valuable talent and thrive. And, if you’re a female and not involved with Girls Who Print, I would highly suggest you join the Linkedin group and connect at the next print industry event you attend. It’s an exciting way to meet other females in the industry, network, share experiences and encourage each other in our careers.
Print is a highly rewarding industry to build a career with much to offer. Let’s work together to make sure the next generation of females who are interested in our industry perceive it that way.