Agri-Mark is a dairy cooperative covering parts of New York and Vermont and encompassing the Cabot and McCadam brands. The McCadam cheese plant in Chateaugay manufactures award-winning New York Cheddar, Muenster and European-type cheeses.
In November, Agri-Mark called CITEC to lead their state-mandated sexual harassment prevention training, and they wanted it lead by a woman who had worked in manufacturing. What we didn’t understand at first though, is that Agri-Mark has been working, as Employee Relations Manager Jay McGrath told us, “as simple as it sounds, to seek a better understanding of what it means to have Women in Manufacturing.” Jay pointed out that although women currently represent nearly half of the total US workforce (47%) they make up less than a third (27%) of the manufacturing workforce. At the same time, research shows that gender diversity benefits manufacturing firms by creating a culture that improves their ability to innovate and grow. Agri-Mark realized that one of the keys to addressing potential workforce shortfalls is attracting and retaining more women.
They surveyed the women in their workforce to find out what skill sets they could offer to help them advance their careers. The number one response was Negotiation Skills. CITEC Business Advisor Kate Chepeleff, a project/process engineer with 20 years in heavy industry and manufacturing, lead the discussion using the Thomas-Kilmann conflict paradigm as a base to develop an understanding of different approaches to conflict and what makes people negotiate differently from one another. Then they dug into ways participants can turn some of those things around to end with better results.
Here were some of the responses:
“So helpful in my professional and personal life.”
“I walked away with more confidence in my abilities.”
“I think this class will help us make a positive change for our workforce.”
“It is great to see women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry gather to establish meaningful connections with their peers and expand their network,” commented Plant Manager Jason Martin. “I believe the insights they gain through this network will support them in achieving their career goals, and ultimately aid Agri-Mark in achieving improved business performance.”
At CITEC we are always impressed when a company seeks innovative ways to develop their workforce. Agri-Mark is leading the way.
Agri-Mark's efforts to recruit, retain, and support the women in their workforce include a Women in Manufacturing discussion series.
CITEC is a not-for-profit business consulting organization serving the seven counties of Jefferson, Lewis, Clinton, St Lawrence, Essex, Franklin, and Hamilton. We are driven by a mission to help the small and medium sized enterprises in northern New York to thrive. The depth of our consulting team's expertise and an unbeatable nationwide network of resources will deliver the impacts your business needs to grow strategically, improve profitability, and create the competitive advantages you need.