Reaping the rewards of partnership
For BASF and the Women in Manufacturing Association, it’s a win-win for all
BY LAURA BUONCUORE
Cara Madzy, Vice President, Operations, has always felt like she belonged – at BASF, in the company’s Professional Development Program, and at the numerous manufacturing sites across the country where she was often the sole woman in the room.
A second-generation chemical engineer, Madzy followed in her father’s footsteps, joining BASF right out of college. Now she says it’s time to pay it forward.
Serving on the Board of Directors for the Women in Manufacturing Association allows her to do just that.
“I’ve had so many advocates and allies along the way who helped me develop … it's my time to make a difference, spread the word, and show confidence as a role model.”
BASF is a corporate sponsor of the Women in Manufacturing Association (WiM), the only national trade association dedicated to providing year-round support to women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry.
Madzy says that the WiM sponsorship is the perfect complement to BASF corporate initiatives, specifically in the areas of building a diverse, inclusive workforce, getting women into manufacturing roles, and helping to meet the BASF goal of having 30% representation for women in leadership roles by 2030.
BASF is well represented within WiM. In addition to Madzy, Heidi Gerhard, Director, Talent Strategy, recently joined the WiM Education Foundation Board. The foundation’s mission is to advance the roles of women in manufacturing at all career stages through educational and developmental programs.
Their newest program, Empowering Women in Production, is designed to support the professional development of employees in a production or shop-floor role at manufacturing companies, giving them the core skills to succeed and advance in their positions as leaders.
“BASF has five talented women participating in the Empowering Women in Production program this year,” said Gerhard. “By developing these women into leaders, we strengthen our operations and inspire other women to explore careers in manufacturing. We look forward to increasing our engagement and networking opportunities across our BASF locations.”
Networking and recruitment are key components of the sponsorship, providing countless opportunities at both the national and local chapter levels.
BASF employees have played instrumental roles in the recent launches of three local WiM chapters. In Texas, graduates of the BASF flame program (Female Leaders Advancing Manufacturing Excellence) became founding members and now serve as officers. The Alabama chapter was also launched in 2020, with BASF’s LaShaunda Garret Holly serving as Treasurer. Kristen Hall, Regional Account Manager, BASF Mobile Emission Catalysts, chairs the Southeast Michigan Board, one of the oldest chapters of WiM.
As a corporate sponsor, BASF can offer unlimited WiM individual memberships to employees. Joseph Willett, People Consultant Team, facilitates activities and gets the word out to BASF employees about all that is available through WiM.
“Putting our employees in contact with WiM and having them attend events with women from other companies provide for valuable networking,” said Willett. “This external outreach also allows for best practice sharing so it’s a benefit for everyone overall.”
With a projected national labor shortage of 2.4 million skilled workers through the end of the decade,* talent attraction and retention are top priorities for BASF.
The WiM sponsorship supports recruitment efforts across the country, from job boards to local events. One upcoming conference in Galveston – called Power Up, for Pipefitters, Operators, Welders, Electricians and Riggers – allows for prescreening, interviewing and recruiting candidates from technical colleges in the Gulf Coast area.
Events like these can also support larger initiatives, such as the BASF North American Apprenticeship Development Program. The program aims to attract more female talent to plant floor and technical roles, offering apprentices the unique opportunity to gain on-the-job-training and earn industry-recognized credentials while receiving a full-time wage.
Attracting more females manufacturing roles is the start. Madzy believes that creating and sustaining an inclusive experience where women feel welcome and that they belong will help keep them there.
From assessing existing infrastructure to ensure there are enough facilities for women in plants, which were predominantly all-male, to identifying areas for cultural shifts within the company, BASF is actively addressing the challenges that come with attracting and retaining more women into manufacturing. These are common issues across industries – as a WiM corporate sponsor, BASF can tap into and hear about how other leading organizations are innovating to retain their female employees and create cultures that are more inclusive.
The opportunities for collaboration are rewarding for all involved.
Alison Grealis, Founder and President of WiM, heartily agrees. “We highly value BASF’s continued participation with Women in Manufacturing. BASF is a leader in the recruitment, retention and advancement of female talent, and it’s been very beneficial to hear about BASF’s best practices at WiM’s national conferences, regional events and corporate member leadership conferences. She notes that “BASF also was instrumental in the development of WiM’s new Empowering Women in Production program which begins this September, as well the creation of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force.”
Partnerships and initiatives like these make it an exciting time to be a woman in manufacturing. To learn more about careers at BASF, click here.
* The National Association of Manufacturers