The Tipping Point of Innovation: Henkel 3D Printing’s Diverse Ethos and Ecosystem

The Tipping Point of Innovation: Henkel 3D Printing’s Diverse Ethos and Ecosystem

A guest article by Cindy Deekitwong, Global Head of Marketing, Incubator Business-Henkel Adhesive Technologies.

A large, multinational company with global reach has a unique position in today’s world. On top of the expectations of business success, great responsibility comes from operating within a diverse ecosystem.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is an underpinning of all that we do at Henkel, from our Düsseldorf, Germany HQ to our locations in close to 80 countries, with hundreds of nationalities represented among our tens of thousands of employees. When taking into account our customer and ecosystem partners, that reach is even greater and more diverse. We have a responsibility to every individual who is part of this ecosystem to ensure that they feel they belong in our people-first culture.

I feel this mission personally, as someone typically underrepresented at a senior decision-making level in a high-tech field. My position at Henkel enables me to use my own experience as an empathetic leader to ensure that we offer equitable opportunities and propel our ecosystem to success.

As our customers, teams, and communities are diverse in their needs, the only way to make sure that we exceed their expectations is to take into account all critical angles by having the fullness and richness of many diverse thinking styles, cultures, and generations all with a seat at the table and a voice in the group. That always must start first from within.

Success Begins with Culture

One of the aspects of my role within Henkel is bringing together empowered teams driven to empower everyone we work with. The team I work with is composed of individuals from a broad range of backgrounds, each bringing an important and very different perspective to what we do – which is vital to our continuing to grow differently than the norm and to stay in tune with the world around us!

In particular, an area that our teammates continue to highlight is our higher-than-average composition of women at Henkel at every level. Times are changing, though, and we are seeing more women who hold “business and innovation responsibility.” A figure we had cited previously from Chemical & Engineering News traced 8.7% of 413 different management positions across the chemical industry as being held by women in 2006. The 2017 update of the study saw that figure rise to 32%. Just a few years on, we now see this figure at 38% in the most recent study.

3D printing itself has a long way to go to match these growth trends. Estimates compiled by organizations like Women in 3D Printing and Alexander Daniels Global cite figures closer to 11-13% female participation across the global additive manufacturing workforce as a whole. Ongoing discussions around this topic continue to inform growing industry attention to the shape of its personnel.

“I started working in Additive Manufacturing in 2016, and I’m proud that as the industry grows, it becomes more inclusive. It wasn’t uncommon to be one of the only females in a room back then. Now that the industry is on the up and up, I am connecting with more females, interacting with people from different cultures, and even engaging with younger generations. Although this industry gets lumped in with all larger ‘tech’ industries, I feel like the 3D printing industry is pushing the boundaries on what it means to be diverse and inclusionary. It’s refreshing to see the change and even be a part of it here at LOCTITE 3D Printing.” – Laura Turnage, Henkel.

On our 3D printing team at LOCTITE, we have been discovering the power that comes from innovative thinking. 3D printing is an industry driven by thinking differently. It has been inspiring to see our team members bring their own unique perspectives to shape this young business in a young industry.

Ensuring that every member of our team feels not just that they have a voice but that their voice is heard is critical to our success.

“Since I joined the additive manufacturing industry, I have been lucky to work with passionate, strong, diverse, and capable women around the globe. I strongly advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion topics at Henkel in our Employee Resource Networks, as I believe our organization should reflect the real world. Our responsibility is to ensure that different ethnicities, genders, ages, and thinking styles groups are listened to and represented. We have the unique opportunity to set the standard for the next generation and our team aims to continue fostering conversation and example around DEI.” – Melissa Mendoza, Henkel.

Value Alignment with Ecosystem Partners

As we stride forward with an engaged and inclusive team, our culture also indicates that we should strive for value alignment with our partners.

From L-R: Cindy Deekitwong (Henkel), Dan Straka (TriMech), Melissa Mendoza (Henkel) & Laura Turnage (Henkel)

This means that not only must our technologies work together, but our teams must share a forward-looking vision and foundational values. For many of our ecosystem partners across the 3D printing industry, this manifests in companies demonstrating genuine commitments to DEI and to their own teams. We provide materials. The makers of 3D printers themselves have a responsibility to produce excellent hardware capable of handling excellent materials to make excellent finished products. The fine tuning of material to machine is one foundation for excellence; the fine tuning of values is another.

Avi Reichental (Nexa3D) & Cindy Deekitwong (Henkel)

“At Nexa3D, investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion is not just something to talk about, it’s something we truly practice because we firmly believe that having a more diverse and inclusive company culture underpins our business success. It’s foundational to how the company was built and at the core of how we operate today. Personally, I’ve been in the manufacturing and technology industry for a couple of decades now and I can say that I had not had the privilege to work at a more diverse organization than Nexa3D. I’m really proud of our deeply rooted belief that diversity breeds success and truly appreciate the value our co-founder, Avi Reichental, continues to put on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Culturally, we go out of our way to not only acknowledge but also appreciate our different backgrounds and unique talents each and every Nexer brings to the table.” – Nina Swienton, Nexa3D.

Partners like Nexa3D have been keen to share this important underpinning, as we continue to work together, grow together, learn together, and lead together.

Another powerful partner, TriMech Advanced Manufacturing Services, shares this ethos as well. Working with like-minded colleagues creates a more collaborative and ultimately innovative atmosphere – one in which we can truly come together to create the game-changing technologies that 3D printing promises.

“Diversity and inclusion are paramount as we face new challenges in our growing industry. 3D printing allows us to creatively tackle new and old problems, which require open dialogue and diversity of opinion. The team here at TriMech has a rich mindshare of artists, former special effect gurus, engineers, pre-med, and biology majors who bring a diversity of opinions, culture, and leadership that ultimately enable our success.” – Dan Straka, TriMech Advanced Manufacturing Services.

Building Culture and Industry Layer by Layer

As 3D printing continues to mature from bespoke and niche to global manufacturing revolution, it has a lot of promises to fulfill. We need to push this conversation forward collaboratively, taking into account that for this industry to be truly global, we must build upon a global perspective. We need more women, more intergenerational exchange, more diversity in background and race, more representation among the LGBTQ+ community, more educational levels – more voices, in short, from across the very world we strive to serve.

As a woman, as an immigrant, as an intrapreneur, I remain proud of and excited to be part of the diverse Henkel team committed to delivering on 3D printing’s promise of sparking the next industrial revolution.

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