Automation Plus President, John Glenski participates in Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) ‘s roundtable discussion on DE&I: An Informative Discussion About People and Business
What is Automation Plus and Plus Groups involvement with recruiting a diverse work force?
Our team recognizes diversity in the workplace as a business strategy that maximizes employees’ productivity, creativity, and loyalty, while meeting our partners’ needs. We also recognize the benefits in a diverse work culture as adding value and an array of views when providing innovative solutions to our customer’s projects. A diverse workforce leads to people feeling more comfortable and happier with their work-life, driving increased productivity. If a company is only as good as its employees, then it stands to reason that a great deal should be devoted to hiring the most talented individuals.
For our team that included adding an employee development director. Additionally, we intensified our efforts in the last three years by engaging the local universities, across our five offices, helping to increase their diversity both with their incoming students and existing, specifically the University of Cincinnati (UC) and their co-op program. a co-op education is fundamental in our HR efforts as they provide a pipeline that can lead to permanent positions within Plus Group. and expand and diversify the talent pool.
How do you engage with University of Cincinnati and local communities?
The high level answer is “in phases”. at first we engaged in a conversation with UC’s head of development around how we could partner with the University of Cincinnati and their team from a traditional “engineer only” perspective to the benefit of both UC and our company. As part of that first commitment we send our engineers to the university (free of charge) weekly to engage the students on automation and what work life, as an engineer is like, driving a student connection. This included facilitating two new partnerships between the university and large industrial automation firms (Rockwell Automation and ABB) and becoming a university partner ourselves.
These student connections started a discussion, can our team drive more diversity & retention in the engineering college, and engage the community as a whole?
So we expanded, starting with guest lecturing for their Entrepreneurship program, and then we progressed to more active engagement with the college by .joining an advisory board for the Dean of the Engineering college. A considerable topic often addressed in these board meetings is how to attract female and URM students to the STEM field of study and to get them actively considering different career routes as engineers and programmers. It was eye opening to see the struggles on the front side of our industries main “talent pipeline” to increase diversity. In my opinion one of the best ways to drive diversity for fellow integrators is increasing the overall talent pool that the entire industry can access.; thus our next step of engagement, “how could we help” was launched.
We now actively work with UC at multiple levels on ideas and innovation in attracting diverse talent and engaging them early to drive that “spark” of excitement and curiosity while educating students on the different career opportunities within the engineering world, replacing the outdated mindset that engineering means “Factory work” and instead preparing the next generation for the technology-centric Industry 4.0 world we live in.
What advice would you give other companies in trying to diversify and engage with other non-traditional partnerships like universities and how will this benefit their company?
I would advise companies interested in diversifying their workforce by partnership to start with a simple phone call with their local universities, it truly is as easy as that to begin. A phone call to the head of development and a discussion on engagement and what might make sense for your company.
The benefits gained from our engineers interacting with students, promoting open innovation and exposing our engineers to a diversity of thought both culturally and generationally has been a side benefit and has driven beneficial results. Both in the community but also our bottom line.
If we as an industry want to see more diverse engineers who can lead complex and tech-heavy projects, we cannot limit training and development to just our existing workers. Working within higher education or the community itself to retain and foster new engineers who holistically understand these essential technologies is critical.
As we set the stage for our industry’s future leaders, we need to find new ways to learn and lead, providing managers and engineers with the skills and experiences needed to thrive. It won’t be easy, but a simple phone call can start you down a path where supporting meaningful educational experiences for those who are just starting their journey can lead to more “teammates” for all of us. Through these efforts and more, we position our industry for greater success.
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