Where are all the other women in the print industry?
In 2015, Helen Esmond was the first woman ever elected as Master of the Stationers’ Company, the world’s oldest guild/association of the printing industry. The Stationer’s Company, founded in 1403 in London, protects copyright, provides guidance, and offers networking opportunities for pretty much any type of printer nowadays.
However, up until 2015, you could easily get the impression that the Stationers were more accessible to the wide variety of printing businesses than to the idea of electing a woman to a leadership position. And here we are in 2022, and they did it again; they just elected Moira Sleight to the Master of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers.
Making Tradition Future-Ready
“Becoming” someone in the Stationers Company starts with, of course, being a professional in the printing industry, joining the company as a Freeman, and gradually working your way up to the liveryman position and, eventually, if deemed worthy by the members, becoming Master for, initially, one year. Ms. Sleight focuses on diversity, inclusion, and supporting young talents. She contends that traditions don’t have to be boring and don’t need to be stuck in the old tracks.
Print won’t go away anytime soon, but the question is just how relevant is it to younger generations? The Stationers Company already has an excellent outreach program addressing upcoming generations. However, there’s still a lot of homework to be done to attract and retain more women, and not just in the Stationers’ Company.
The Boss Ladies are Here to Stay
Sleight is not the only woman making headlines. As print services providers and dealerships see leadership changes, the old generation is preparing to retire, the next generation is stepping up, and we see more women taking over, which is quite refreshing.
The new boss ladies perfectly combine legacy, education, and vision. They bring what their families have built over the years, excellent business education, and a vision for the future. They all understand that turning a business upside down is not the way to future-proof it. At the same time, though, because members of the next generation are now taking over decision-making positions, they understand what is needed and that only constant learning and change will keep a business successful.
Bringing Printing Women Together
Award ceremonies are one way of bringing printing women together. Still, we need more consistent touchpoints to encourage knowledge exchange and women, in general, to pursue a career in the printing industry. Mentoring programs are another way to ensure more women in any kind of position in the industry, both in office imaging and production printing, never mind packaging, label, and industrial printing.
Unfortunately, as much as we wish for it, the printing industry currently accounts for less than 30% of female colleagues across all sectors and European countries, with the 3D printing industry hitting the absolute bottom with only 11% of women on their teams in 2018, down 2% from previous years!
Women for Success
A McKinsey study in 2017 found that businesses with a high percentage of diversity within their organizations not only outperform their peers but also outlast them by almost 30%. My favorite number for 2022 is 46.5%; that’s how many women are currently training to pursue a career in the printing industry in Germany (excluding office imaging).
Don’t Be Too Happy
The IT and office imaging industry is far behind the general printing industry, with less than 25% of women in any position. An estimated 10% of companies are male teams only, some 25% have less than 25% women in their teams, and only 7% of companies have between 25% and 56% of female employees. And in roughly 50% of all companies, women are nowhere to be seen in managerial, never mind top-management positions. If you want to look at it the other way around, current German statistics show that 5% to 7% of women are in top leadership positions. The past two COVID years haven’t helped to improve this situation, but will the next years?
Let me close by thanking The Cannata Report for taking the initiative to honor the women of our industry. I hope you know how important and encouraging this is for all women in the office imaging industry.