Exploring the Value of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) with Aneesa Muthana

I know that International Women’s Day was last week, but in honesty should it not be a week? I also feel the same sentiment about Mother’s Day, but perhaps I digress. It most certainly is National Women’s Month so today’s topic is timely in myriad ways. 

At our recent user event, we had a speaker who represents the power and potential of women better than most. Her name is Aneesa Muthana and she is the CEO of Pioneer Services and M&M Grinding, manufacturing companies located near Chicago, where I live. Aneesa is beyond impressive and I am so happy to have formed a friendship with her, after many months of stalking her on LinkedIn. 

Being a woman leader in manufacturing is rare, with less than 20% of manufacturing executive titles being held by women. A Muslim woman in the C Suite in the manufacturing secor makes Aneesa even more of an anomaly.

In the engineering and manufacturing sectors, innovation is the bedrock of success. The source of this innovation is often a diverse team of individuals who bring a wide range of experiences and ideas to the table, yet today’s engineering and manufacturing industries remain woefully short on diversity.

Aneesa Muthana believes diversity is an essential component to true innovation.  In case you missed it, she delivered an insightful keynote address during last month’s 3DEXPERIENCE World in Dallas. Muthana’s talk presents a compelling argument for the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in this space.

In this blog post, we will explore the multifaceted aspects of DEI that Muthana highlights in her keynote address, and how they contribute to a more effective and human-centric industry.

The Misconceptions and Realities of DEI

DEI has become a prevalent topic in many professional spheres, though it is often misunderstood or reduced to mere buzzwords. Aneesa Muthana addresses this by clarifying what DEI is not. It is not about checking boxes, fulfilling political agendas, or tokenism. Nor is it about fostering an ‘us versus them’ mentality, which can be counterproductive and divisive.

Instead, Muthana urges leaders to focus on genuine efforts of empathy and understanding to create an inclusive environment where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. By embracing DEI, companies can avoid the pitfalls of a toxic work culture and instead cultivate a fair and respectful workplace.

Defining Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Moving beyond misconceptions, Muthana provides a detailed explanation of the components of DEI. Diversity is about bringing qualified individuals from various backgrounds into your team. Equity pertains to the fairness and impartiality of company policies and practices. Inclusion is about creating a space where people feel they belong, respected, and valued.

She emphasizes that DEI should not complicate the workplace but rather be integrated seamlessly into the fabric of a company’s culture, aligning both personal and corporate values to do the right thing and treat people fairly. Muthana’s motto, ‘everyone has a place in manufacturing,’ reflects her belief in the universal right to opportunity and growth in the industry.

The ROI of DEI 

The return on investment for DEI is significant, and Muthana highlights key benefits, such as innovation and addressing the workforce crisis. She argues that diverse perspectives foster creativity and problem-solving, which are essential for innovation. Additionally, promoting the industry to underrepresented groups can help mitigate the talent gap. Muthana encourages companies to showcase their diverse teams not as tokens, but as integral members contributing to the company’s success.

Supportive groups and mentorships are also crucial, providing a network that nurtures future industry leaders and maintains a progressive, inclusive corporate culture.

Aneesa Muthana’s insightful perspective on DEI extends beyond the boundaries of the workplace and into the broader context of societal impact. She calls upon her audience to not only implement DEI principles in their professional lives but also to embody these values personally. Her closing remarks remind us that as humans, we have the power to affect change not just within our industries but in the global community.

She urges us to include all people in our considerations and actions, fostering a world that is not only more innovative and productive but also kinder and more inclusive. We are encouraged to leverage the diversity factor to touch lives worldwide positively and leave behind a legacy we can be proud of.

If you are interested in watching Aneesa’s keynote address from 3DEXPERIENCE World 2024, you can watch it here.

Barb Schmitz

Barb Schmitz

Senior Marketing Communications Manager at SolidWorks
Barb Schmitz is a Senior Manager in Marketing Communications with BA in Journalism and over 30 years of experience in the CAD software industry. She started her career as a journalist covering technology and served as an editor for several leading industry publications for over 20 years. Besides being a sleuth of tech, she is a loyal dog owner, travel bum, mom, lover of hoppy IPAs, red wine, and alternative music lover living in the great city of Chicago.