International Women’s Day (8 March) is an annual event celebrating the achievements of women in all spheres of life globally, and rallies people to fight for gender parity.
This year’s theme #EmbraceEquity highlights the fact that giving equal opportunities for women and men are not enough. What is required is not “Equality” but “Equity”. “Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.”
Many companies in the print industry have championed their female employees through various in-house decisions, initiatives, and programmes.
XSYS Global, a supplier of flexographic prepress equipment, printing plates, sleeves, and adapters, marked the International Women’s Day by highlighting the contributions, experiences, and impact of its female workforce in a male-dominated industry. The company says that it is well aware of its responsibility to empower and support women to succeed and thrive in the career of their choice.
The management team is trying to bring in more women into the company and is actively working to increase the proportion of female employees at all levels. CEO Dagmar Schmidt says, “As part of our goal to reach higher levels of diversity and inclusion, we are keen on putting more women in leadership roles. One of our KPIs is to have 36% women in managerial positions by 2025, and I’m pleased to say that we are currently around 33-34%, and may well exceed the percentage. However we can only achieve this if there are enough women entering the industry, and so recruitment at the entry level is critical.”
17% of the workforce in XSYS is women, a number which is expected to grow by implementing more initiatives to address this stark imbalance. However, working in an industry where female candidates are hard to come by, Schmidt explains, “We have to face the fact that we work in a very conservative specialty chemicals industry, which in addition to being male dominated is also, unfortunately, over aged. Though very difficult, recruiting new generations of women is very important, not only to achieve a better balance and better representation, but also to secure the future of the industry.”
The benefits that the company and its employees would gain by increasing the percentage of women in their workforce are manifold. HR director at XSYS Global Katja Stuhr gives her insight, “I appreciate being part of a technical organisation where women increasingly play a bigger role, be that in management positions or on the shop floor. I have the feeling that men value what women have to say, as we bring different skills, fresh perspectives, and more empathy to the business.”
Initiatives, both inside and outside the workplace, such as industry associations, mentoring schemes, and networking events are helpful in addressing the difficult challenge of attracting more women to work in flexo. US-based Women of Flexo, a special interest group within the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA), offers membership to those working in the press and prepress department, sales, management, and various other positions, providing an opportunity to network and relate over shared experiences and know about the challenges facing the industry.
“The shared experience brings value to the individual, to the company, and to the industry as a whole; this is true for both men and women,” says XSYS Global’s sales director Southern Europe Marina Altayo Armengol.
With the proportion of female employees growing each year, companies are also witnessing a push for more flexible working conditions. Stuhr feels that if companies are more adaptable, offering hybrid working or more flexible working hours, then women can be motivated to work in the industry. “However we are facing a challenging market for candidates, making it difficult to fill vacancies in general. There is a lot of work to be done in recruitment and employee retention.”
PSE Offline Marketing, a family-owned and run offline print marketing company, also marked the International Women’s Day celebrations by championing their female workforce.
With over half of the workforce being women, the company sees them as the key to its success by leading and implementing its growth marketing strategy for clients and its own brand.
To celebrate IWD 2023 theme #EmbraceEquity, female employees in roles such as administration, brand and design, client services, creative, finance and procurement, HR, and operations have shared their opinions on what the day means to them.
For Beth Marston, client success manager at PSE, it is a day to celebrate women and all the amazing things done by them, besides a chance to reflect and evaluate the changes that still need to be made. “Equity recognizes the differences between individuals and allocates the resources and opportunities to reach an ‘equal’ outcome. Everyone deserves the same outcome, but individual paths may just be a little different,” she says.
Freya Davidson-Smith, brand and design manager at PSE adds, “The day is about celebrating the strength and achievements of women whilst raising awareness of gender equality and reigniting that important conversation. To me, #EmbraceEquity in its simplest term means inclusivity, getting everyone involved in the conversation.”
PSE’s chairman Phil Newton sums it up, “Women should be celebrated every day – however, International Women’s Day gives us the perfect opportunity to highlight the incredible women that are instrumental in the operation of PSE.”
And this could very well be a reflection of the industry as a whole in the coming future.