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Vidir Solutions rises to the occasion in hiring women


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For Jillian Friesen, Vidir Solutions Inc. has provided something many a university student yearns for – financial support for her studies and a clear career path upon graduation.

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For Jillian Friesen, Vidir Solutions Inc. has provided something many a university student yearns for – financial support for her studies and a clear career path upon graduation.

Friesen, who is in the fourth year of a six-year computer engineering degree at the University of Manitoba, grew up in Arborg, one of two small Manitoba communities where Vidir’s manufacturing operations are concentrated (the other is Teulon). After working for Vidir for a summer term in 2021, the company approached Friesen with a very appealing offer.

Going forward, Vidir would pay for all of Friesen’s tuition costs and provide her with summer employment. After graduation, she has a guaranteed job with the company.

An electrical assembler at Vidir Solutions preparing an electrical box for one of its products.

“It’s given me a lot of peace of mind,” says Friesen. “I have a good job to look forward to, which removes a lot of questions about my future.”

Founded in 1986, Vidir is a family-owned manufacturer of automated material-handling solutions. The company sells products and solutions in over 40 countries and has performed over 40,000 installations, many for Fortune 500 companies.

Like most manufacturing businesses, Vidir’s workforce has long been dominated by men. But that’s quickly changing. The “return-for-service” scholarship of up to 100 per cent of tuition offered to a select number of promising students like Friesen is part of a multi-front effort by the company to seek out the next generation of employees and, in particular, to significantly boost female representation.

In 2021, Vidir launched a program called Rising to the Occasion, focused on women in the workplace. This included hosting speaking events on opportunities for women in manufacturing as well as producing a series of social media videos documenting the experiences and aspirations of female Vidir employees.

The impact was immediate. In 2020, only 10 per cent of Vidir’s employees were women; by the end of 2022, that had increased to 26 per cent.

Prior to the campaign, women represented about five per cent of overall job applications and many postings attracted no female applicants. Today, 25 per cent of job applicants are women and they run the job gamut. In fact, more women than men are applying to be welders.

“In addition to being the right thing to do, it’s just good business practice to look beyond traditional role models for hiring,” says Cristina Vieira, director of human resources. “There’s a huge untapped pool of workers out there.”

That’s particularly true for a company like Vidir, which is experiencing significant growth in global demand for its products and services. As a result, the number of full-time employees roughly doubled in the last two years.

The number of job applications is also soaring, from a few hundred annually to about 5,000 in 2022 alone.

Part of that has been the result of more deliberate recruiting strategies at schools, colleges and universities, as well as an overall effort to raise Vidir’s public profile.

“Although we’ve been around for almost 40 years, we used to be one of Manitoba’s best-kept secrets,” says Carissa Rempel, program manager, human resources & public relations. “While our cutting-edge technologies provide support for some amazing companies, a lot of people just didn’t know we existed.”

As Vidir grows, though, the company is determined to retain its tight-knit, family-oriented work culture. Employee engagement is encouraged through monthly social events such as pool parties and movie nights, as well as employee-driven initiatives to give back to the community.

“People here often forge strong friendships, both at work and in the community,” says Vieira. “We value people who are kind and respectful, and that isn’t going to change.”

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