Diversity and Inclusion at Ben Machine: Challenges and Successes

diversity and inclusion in manufacturing


Ben Machine has been in business long enough to recognize that we don’t know it all.  What we have learned is that innovation and inspiration come from everywhere and everyone.  That’s why we have long pushed for diversity and inclusion in manufacturing, CNC machining, and sheet metal fabrication.

Hidden in Plain Sight

When Ben Machine began a half-century ago, the business world assumed women weren’t cut out for mathematics, engineering, or precision machining.  Of course, NASA didn’t get that memo, relying on a group of African American women (who were called “computers”) to calculate the orbital mathematics for the NASA launches all the way through the Apollo program.  Neither did Bletchley Park, where women helped with the mathematics of the earliest electronic computers to crack the Nazi Enigma encryption machines.  In fact, women have been involved with mathematics and engineering all along.  They just didn’t get the credit for their work.

Diversity Works for Us

Having wide gender, racial, and ability representation in our company has shown us that ideas, growth, and efficiency come from all corners.  We would not be the company we are today, with the ability to solve complicated CNC machining and manufacturing problems, if everyone looked alike, came from the same background, with the same education, and had the same perspective.  That’s a recipe for failure.

We currently have two women in our small management team and we are putting pieces in place to move more in that direction.  Our management team includes people from numerous countries and backgrounds, including members of the Sri Lankan, Indigenous and Vietnamese communities.  All in, over 65% of our staff share visible minority statuses.  This variety of perspectives gives us a stronger ability to adapt to change.

We’ve long understood this at Ben Machine.  The challenge we face is largely that of finding diversity in the manufacturing and CNC machining industry.  In the case of women, for example, while women have outnumbered men entering college for some years now, and women account for nearly half of STEM majors, fewer than one in five new engineers graduating each year is a woman.  The government has been unable to move that needle, but Ben Machine has been trying in our own way.

We Work for Diversity

For years we have sponsored and promoted engineering and CNC machining programs in high school and at the college level.  These competitions and opportunities put women on the same footing as men and give them chances to have fun and learn to own the field.  It’s important for women and visible minorities to sense that engineering, precision machining and fabrication are fields in which they can make important contributions and be recognized for them.

In a way, it’s self-serving; we freely admit that.  We hope to foster more minorities in engineering and manufacturing to provide us with a greater field from which to hire.  But it’s not just us.  Hopefully, diversity and inclusion in CNC manufacturing and engineering will become the norm rather than the rare exception.

When as many minorities want to become engineers or machinists get their degrees and land fulfilling jobs, diversity in the manufacturing industry won’t even be a consideration -it will just be the way things are.  Ben Machine is working towards that day.


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