Women in Plastics: Inspiring the Industry
by Susan E. Avery, CAE

ou have probably already realized that this is a very special, very different issue of this publication. For the first time ever, IAPD’s Women in Plastics volunteers have teamed up to provide content for this issue. As you read through these pages, I hope you take a moment to appreciate the depth and breadth of the talent represented by the women in the performance plastics industry. I for one, appreciate their contributions to this publication and their enthusiasm to go beyond their already successful endeavors to try something unprecedented.

Looking back
To truly appreciate all that this group has accomplished, let’s look back at how this all began. In 2013, an employee at an IAPD member company approached her supervisor with the idea of forming a group for the women in the industry. That supervisor happened to also be on the IAPD Board of Directors. He championed the idea, brought it to the board and the board approved the concept.

After gaining board approval, this group faced some early challenges. Their leadership turned over, but new leaders stepped up and quickly got to work. They developed a mission statement. They experimented with in-person regional events, which have grown and evolved over the years into one of IAPD’s most popular offerings. When COVID forced us all to stop traveling, the Women in Plastics group successfully transitioned their in-person events to virtual events, reaching even more people in our industry, giving them a sense of community and allowing them to make connections that they perhaps might not have been able to otherwise.

Additional visibility
One of the most exciting aspects of the Women in Plastics initiative from my vantage point is the increase in the number of women I’m seeing at IAPD’s annual events such as the convention and the Leadership Development Conference. Every year, we see more and more women at these events, which I find gratifying. Kudos to IAPD company leadership for investing in their employees and providing access to opportunities for professional development. I can’t say that the Women in Plastics initiative is primarily responsible for this shift in our events demographic, but I hope that it has helped leaders find and encourage the talent that is in your organizations. I also hope that as the emerging workforce sees more women climbing the corporate ladder that they, too, will be inspired to join your organizations as well.
A more diverse and inclusive workforce
The existing and future workforces are looking toward employers that embrace a more diverse and inclusive culture. Our member organizations are embracing gender diversity in their broader workforce and leadership positions. This is all positive news, as a study published by Fast Company, shows that organizations with above-average gender diversity and levels of employee engagement outperform companies with below-average diversity and engagement by 46-58 percent. Creating an inclusive culture and a workplace where employees feel respected, valued and comfortable being themselves is good for your company’s bottom line.

The Women in Plastics Program in IAPD is widely supported by the top leadership in IAPD member companies. When member company leaders support the program, it has provided the opportunity for so many women in our industry to get access to the association’s networking, educational and leadership opportunities, and to help fast-track their exposure to the broader performance plastics industry and community.

IAPD celebrates all the Women in Plastics participants and program leaders, as well as the member company leaders who have provided support in the way of sponsorship dollars, event registration, travel costs and time away from work. Thank you for contributing to Women in Plastics’ success!