The Manufacturing Institute (MI)—the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers—announced it will recognize Erin Ashcroft with a STEP Ahead Award. The STEP Ahead Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry from the factory floor to the C-suite.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the Manufacturing Institute for this award,” said Ashcroft, STIHL Inc. assistant general counsel. “STIHL Inc. continues to empower me to make an impact both within the company and in my professional community. Whether I’m engaging with the next generation of attorneys at the Federal Bar Association or mentoring STIHL Inc. interns, I feel my work makes a difference.”
“While not working directly on the production floor, Erin’s work behind-the-scenes—from a legal and compliance standpoint—ultimately plays a crucial role in keeping the STIHL Inc. manufacturing machine moving,” said STIHL Inc. General Counsel Scott Tilley. “In short, she exemplifies the STIHL standard of excellence through her passion for the law, leadership skills and collaborative mentality. She’s an invaluable member of the STIHL team.”
“The 2022 STEP Ahead Honorees and Emerging Leader awardees are excellent representatives of the exciting opportunities available in manufacturing,” said Denise Rutherford, 2022 STEP Ahead chair. “These remarkable women and the leadership they show help inspire next generation of female leaders to consider careers in manufacturing.”
“The STEP Ahead Awards are central to the industry’s efforts to recognize and empower women,” said MI President Carolyn Lee. “Our Honorees and Emerging Leaders serve as role models and have their own multiplier effect on the number of women in the workforce, paying it forward to help others find their way into a successful, rewarding career in modern manufacturing. After 10 years of STEP Ahead Awards, we’ve honored more than 1,100 women leaders in manufacturing, who in turn have impacted hundreds of thousands of individuals through mentoring and volunteer work. We’re so proud of all these women, and we can’t wait to see what STEP and its Honorees and Emerging Leaders will accomplish in the next 10 years.”
The STEP Women’s Initiative is the nation’s marquee program to close the gender gap in manufacturing. STEP works to foster a 21st-century manufacturing workforce by empowering and inspiring women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and leadership, as well as by motivating alumnae to pay it forward by mentoring the next generation. The STEP Ahead Awards honor exceptional women in manufacturing and motivate them to mentor the next generation through an annual awards gala and associated leadership training program. The stories of these women and the leadership they show will help inspire next-generation female leaders in manufacturing and support current female talent within the industry. In the program’s first five years, STEP Ahead Award winners impacted more than 300,000 individuals—from peers in the industry to school-age children.
The biggest challenge facing manufacturers continues to be the growing workforce crisis—the shortage of skilled talent to fill open positions. Manufacturers can close the skills gap by 50 percent simply by bringing 10 percent more women into the industry. Women account for about half of the U.S. labor force but represent less than one-third of the manufacturing workforce. STEP Ahead empowers and inspires women in the manufacturing industry. The goal is to build networks for women to have support in their industry and to elevate the role models who can motivate and mentor the next generation.
On April 28, the MI will recognize 130 recipients of the STEP Ahead Awards in Washington, D.C. The STEP Ahead Awards program will highlight each Honoree and Emerging Leader’s story, including their leadership and accomplishments in manufacturing.