Covering diversity requires self-reflection

 

Diversity this week in our first special report on the topic. We plan to make it an annual feature.

I’m glad we had the opportunity to highlight individual stories, successful companies, and interesting programs. Having a diverse workforce is important and research shows that it offers employers a number of benefits. Diverse companies have a competitive advantage, and with so many plastics companies struggling to hire enough people, it doesn’t make sense to limit their talent pool.

Reporting on diversity in the plastics industry is not enough. When we decided to tackle this issue, I knew we had to take a look in the mirror too. I’ll focus on our editorial team in these comments, but the bottom line for other departments is similar.

PN has a solid track record when it comes to recruiting and promoting women. In our 32 years of publishing activity, around half of our workforce has been female. This percentage also applies to those whose titles contain the word “editor”: editor, editor-in-chief, assistant editor-in-chief, and news editor. Over the years women have made up about half of our editorial board.

But our record is bad in the race. We’ve only had four black editorial staff and one Asian editor since 1989. We don’t have any at the moment. When we talk about it, it can be tempting to make excuses. I can imagine that this also applies to the companies we write about if they have predominantly or exclusively white employees.

But I won’t find any excuses. I’m just saying we have to do better, and we’ll try. Our parent company, Crain Communications Inc. shares best practices and encourages us to hire a more diverse workforce. PN isn’t the only brand working to improve.

Next, let’s look at the cover. Our subscriber data shows us that most of our readers are middle-aged white men, as is the case in the US plastics industry. This is reflected in our reporting. But we go to great lengths to bring diversity to our news.

We’ve been posting about women in the industry for decades, and since 2015 we’ve made Women Breaking the Mold an annual feature. In this special report – and others like our Rising Stars and our CEO Edition – we are recruiting a diverse mix of people to create a profile.

Every now and then we hear from critics who wonder why we are trying to profile women, young people, or minority leaders in the industry. But it’s important to reach out to these groups and let the predominantly white and male industry hear what they have to say.

Next, PN provides an important forum for industry leaders with our events both in person and online. We have a mission to have a variety of speakers at our events who represent women and other ethnic groups in addition to the predominant white male speakers who have sung many conferences in the past.

At our Plastics Caps & Closures Conference, which will take place on 21.-23. For example, we have six female moderators, including our keynote speaker Anne need from Colgate-Palmolive.

It’s an on-going job, but we strive to have a diverse list of moderators. And our Women Breaking the Mold Conference has become one of our biggest events – last year we had more than 500 attendees for our virtual event.

The US manufacturing demographic is mostly made up of whites and men. Ask any woman or minority group you know in the industry and they will tell you that they are often the only ones in rooms full of white men.

The industry has a lot to gain by becoming more inclusive and diverse. The road to get there is tough – I know that from my own experience.

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