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Your manufacturing workforce: Complete exit interviews before it’s too late

A shift in corporate culture expectations has left employment retention teetering in the manufacturing industry

July 27, 2021  By Janelle Abela

Photo: recep-bg/Getty Images

An exit interview is typically performed after an employee has decided to leave an organization. The intention is to use this information to support change for future employee retention. But why wait until an employee has made the decision to leave? If you hired them, then fight to keep them – ask the hard questions, now.

In the past year, many large organizations have seen a mass exodus due to racist, discriminatory, harassing and bullying behaviour and actions in the workplace. That pairs with a Glassdoor study indicating nearly half of Black (47 per cent) and Hispanic (49 per cent) job seekers and employees saying they have quit a job after witnessing or experiencing discrimination at work.

As organizations revamp what work looks like, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the new opportunities to work from home, it is also critical to revamp corporate culture to address necessary action against social injustices faced by employees.


Corporate culture is more than luncheons, giveaways, and staff outings – it is the beliefs and behaviours of everyone within an organization, how people perform tasks, objectives that are set, and the administration of resources to achieve these objectives.

Traditionally, hierarchal structure has been sustained within many industries, including manufacturing, due to the structure of employment within organizations: top down.

This is where a lot of misunderstanding comes in, because change doesn’t mean anarchy — rather it is the social levelling of individuals within various hierarchal roles to support a more positive, collaborative and productive environment.

To enact this change, organizations must address diversity, equity and inclusion, with more attention than simply knowing the definition – this is about real, actionable change. Attention to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace not only draws attention of new talent, but provides a platform for existing talent to share their invaluable contributions, fostering retention.

Simply put, we must recognize diversity and apply equity to ensure inclusion.


The condition of having or being composed of different elements. In social contexts, diversity is the individual dimensions, qualities, and characteristics that we all possess. Diversity is the “who” and “what” of an individual.

This includes all unique aspects of identity attributes, including the following: ability, age, belief, ethnicity, experience, gender, neurodiversity, personality, political beliefs, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, etc.


The state, quality or idea of being impartial, fair or just; synonymous with fairness and justice. Equity is not just a desired state of affairs, rather it is a structural and systemic concept related to access to necessity and resources in response to one’s intersectionality.


A focus on the collective, in which a culture strives for equity and embraces, respects, accepts and values difference. Inclusion is about the exploration of the differences within diversity in a safe, positive and nurturing environment. As we understand the different aspects of diversity, we scale up our tolerance to a level of embrace and celebration.


The intersecting power relations that influence social relations across diverse societies, as well as the individual experiences in everyday life. Used as an analytic tool, intersectionality allows for an understanding of the mutual shaping that occurs when categories such as race, class, gender, sexuality, nation, ability, ethnicity and age interrelate.

As diversity, equity and inclusion increase, manufacturing organizations develop a competitive advantage that leads to a plethora of positive outcomes:

  • Inclusive companies are more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.
  • Diverse teams solve problems faster than cognitively similar people.
  • Diverse teams outperform individuals or singular perspective groups the majority of the time.
  • Better decisions can be made faster, resulting in better business results and higher profit.
  • Employee engagement is a result of diversity and inclusion, directly linking feelings of inclusion to increased engagement.
  • Job seekers are more likely to pursue and stay with an employer that values diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Increased and communicated diversity, equity and inclusion strategies increase company reputation and decrease risk when assessed by clientele, talent and investors.

We are in a profound time of change, and it is acknowledged that transformative practice responsive to diversity, equity and inclusion takes time.

But if organizations wait to understand the experiences of their employees, they will only experience loss. Diversity, equity and inclusion benefit everyone, internally and externally, making it critical for us all to play a part in the progression of our respect towards each other – restoring and supporting dignity for all.

Janelle Abela founded Diverse Solutions Strategy Firm with the goal of increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in corporate settings, while comprehensively benefiting the organization, employees and clientele.

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