In a tight labor market, the global plastics industry will have to get creative to "get ahead" of its reputation of contributing to global climate change that fuels social inequities.
Oostburg, Wis.-based rotational molder Dutchland Plastics Corp. formalized its social justice responsibility initiatives to highlight its culture of continually working toward being "good corporate and community citizens."
"It's extremely important in the times we're living in and the kind of reputation plastics has gotten, mostly because people are not fully educated with the advantages," CEO Raka Rao told Plastics News.
"Step back and take a look at the entire business climate that we operate in," said Rao, who comes from an Asian-Indian heritage and immigrated to America from India. "When I look at my supply chain and my customers and who I'm interacting with … the face of America is changing.
"If I'm not consciously representing the workforce internally that matches with the kind of people and talent I work with externally, I'm going to become obsolete. I'm not going to be relevant," he said. "More importantly, I'm not going to have the diversity of ideas and genius … when you assemble a team of talented people with different, diverse backgrounds, coming from different cultural heritages, different languages and ethnicities."
Giving back to the local community and promoting diversity and inclusion throughout the company benefit it from a strategy perspective, Rao said.
Diverse hiring practices offer a "rich" variation of thought processes, he added. "There's a lot of business sense [in] focusing on diversity because you are representing the interactions that you as a business have with communities."
Giving opportunities to "people who want to make an honest living and have the talent or are willing to learn it, you become a much stronger company," Rao said. "You have a much more loyal workforce … when you represent the interests and concerns of the culturally diverse workforce, environment and society we live in."
The average tenure of workers at Dutchland's Wisconsin plant is 15-20 years, and the average at its New York plant is six to seven years, he said.
As attracting labor has become more of a challenge, Rao said, the company has worked to hire people in Hispanic, Indian, Bangladeshi, Sikh and other communities in each of its two locations. Some people from those communities have been with Dutchland for more than a decade.