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Why traditional businesses should hire new talent in B2B industrial markets

by Terence Craig

young professionals reading sales reports

Have you ever thought that Millennials only want to work for ‘cool’ companies or wondered whether building a diverse workforce is really an essential part of modern corporate thinking?

Working with clients in the industrial B2B space, the topics of Millennials and workforce diversity are becoming more commonplace in conversations about attracting and retaining new talent into the industry.

Building capabilities to stay competitive

Industrial manufacturing and distribution businesses have traditionally created a male-dominated workforce and a culture that is linked to demonstrated experience and skills for the specialised (often niche) products they produce (woods, paints, plastics, components, etc). However, as market demands change with the influence of new technological capabilities such as automation rapidly integrating with industrial manufacturing, the need to upskill teams and find diverse talent who understand the importance and impact of technology, is vital to remaining competitive.

Agile businesses of today move quickly to close identified skill gaps. Global organisations such as Schneider Electric and Toll who, historically looked for candidates from direct or industry based competition, are beginning to think differently. As part of strategies to build and future-proof their internal capabilities, they are more actively considering a younger, more gender diverse and tech-savvy breadth of talent from different industries.  

Within the manufacturing industry, global paint and coatings company AzkoNobel has adopted a corporate leadership diversity initiative. With a dedicated focus to increase the percentage of women in executive positions from 19% to 25% by 2020 and recruit more leaders from the Asia Pacific and Latin America regions to 20%, the business considers this progress essential in building innovation and driving better results.

The perception of value

Large enterprises seemingly overlook the Millennial generation as viable talent, labelling these 20-somethings as entitled and digitally obsessed. The irony is that Millennials are largely rejecting the idea of joining inflexible businesses and industries that lack innovation, are not purpose-driven, and value profit over performance.

When traditional business add diversity (age/gender) into the talent acquisition value equation together with creating and cultivating a supportive and inclusive workplace culture suited to Millennials, breaking away from conventional team building models may indeed seem challenging.

So how can you bridge the gap and ensure a new generation of business leaders add value and create impact within a B2B business?

Firstly, take stock. If concepts such as flexibility, feedback, personal development, collaboration, progression and good corporate citizenship are not part of your company’s corporate DNA, it’s likely the top talent of today will not be a good fit with your business.


Holding on to ideals that view candidates through a traditional tick-the-box recruitment filter will inherently leave hiring managers and business leaders feeling frustrated. In a world where the bigger picture counts more than ever, focusing on a new generation of talent who can help make an impact to your future business should be the first criteria you apply when hiring in today’s business context, no matter what age or gender they represent.  

Terence Craig B2B Sales Consultant

Talk to Terence for more information about specialist opportunities in the Industrial B2B sector.