Sustainability is no longer a buzzword. The value of the green technology market is predicted to reach a value of $61.92 billion by 2030 (Statista, 2023). The manufacturing industry is embracing this increased environmental consciousness, seeking employees with the skills and talents to contribute to sustainable practices. Green manufacturing methods need to explore innovative waste reduction techniques, energy efficiency, and ways to reduce the impact the supply chain has on the overall carbon footprint.
In 2022, respected management consultant firm McKinsey referred to manufacturing as, “The next frontier for sustainable, inclusive growth,” (McKinsey, 2022). They point out that manufacturing accounts for $2.3 trillion of the GDP and employs around 12 million people. Manufacturing is also critically linked to technological advancement. While innovation may happen in the lab and in IT spaces, without manufacturing facilities to bring ideas to life, those innovations never reach the consumers. A prime example of that is the recent microchip shortage which caused manufacturing across various industries to slump, and which is still impacting the automotive industry (J.P. Morgan, 2023). Could hiring with an eye on sustainability in manufacturing help prevent issues like this?
We believe so. For sustainability in manufacturing to become standardized, companies should start to consider hiring staff who have experience with green manufacturing practices. When looking at the supply chain issue, for example, there are no easy answers. But an expert in sustainable logistics for manufacturing could look at how to reduce costs and squash a company’s carbon footprint, and still get goods or materials as quickly as competitors.
Likewise, manufacturing leaders who have worked with renewable energy could have the ability to overhaul how electricity or natural gas is used within your facilities. Manufacturing HR specialists could arrange flexible shifts and lift-sharing schemes to reduce costs and emissions at both the individual and business levels.
Inclusivity is also an important consideration. Green manufacturing impacts people from all walks of life, therefore it’s vital to get views from more than one or two demographics.
When you have voices sitting around the table from a range of different backgrounds, you really get to understand how these changes will impact real people’s lives. You’re not just working to one person’s idea of what matters; you’re driving transformation for the world.
Of course, as green manufacturing becomes more embedded within the industry, those with the requisite talents will be very much in demand. How can you position your organization as the place to be for workers wanting to grow their skills while looking out for the environment?
As your organization becomes more eco-conscious, your practices will change. Regular upskilling and training sessions show prospective talent that you’re willing to invest in the future of individual workers as well as the planet.
Building a brand reputation isn’t just about reliability and great products. Consumers and other businesses buy according to their values. In fact, over 70% of consumers will spend more for sustainably sourced or manufactured items (PwC, 2023). Make sure you market your brand as eco-friendly and sustainability-focused and you’ll attract talent whose values align with your organization.
If guidance for your industry states that 20% of your energy usage should come from renewables, aim for 30%. If you’re supposed to recycle 40% of your waste, recycle 70%. Advertise these “stretch” goals and be transparent about how you’re hitting them. This will have the dual impact of positioning your enterprise as environmentally conscious while attracting talent that wants to help you further those goals.
The EPA states that sustainable manufacturing has already burst through the bubble of niche, “green” companies and is starting to be foundational to many prominent manufacturing enterprises across a variety of industries. To remain competitive, it makes good business sense to connect with talent that understands how to work smarter and greener, and how to share those practices with your existing workforce. Beyond expanding your bottom line, shifting hiring practices in manufacturing organizations to consider sustainability means there’s a better chance of a thriving future for your business.
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