Keeping our promises. That’s what manufacturers are doing in the wake of tax reform, and that was the message National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons delivered to the NAM Board of Directors at this week’s board meeting.
In his speech, Jay reminded the more than 200 manufacturing leaders and executives that manufacturers have a responsibility to deliver for our people—and for the country:
In the end, Congress and the President delivered. They delivered something that, again, 14 months ago—heck, four months ago—no one thought was possible. We drove it across the line…on our terms.
Now, it’s our responsibility to deliver for America. I want you to take a journey with me 10…20 years in the future.
We want to point to this moment as the pivotal point in time that turned our economy around…that raised people’s expectations of what is achievable, from mediocrity to limitless possibility…that moved us beyond the narrative that America’s best economic days are behind us and allowed us to reassert our rightful role as the leader of the free world, powered by free markets and free people.
How will we get there? By delivering for our people.
We will invest in more plants and equipment and technology right here at home, and we will bring more foreign direct investment to our shores.
We will remember that the best investment we can make is human capital. We will hire more workers, raise pay and benefits for our employees, and we will provide them with the training they need for continued success.
Here’s what the naysayers will tell you. They will say the only people who will benefit from tax reform are the rich. They will say the only thing that will happen is stock buybacks, bigger dividends and higher executive pay.
By the way, there’s nothing wrong with any of that. But we will do so much more—and the world needs to know.
And how else will we keep our promises? Can business actually be trusted to regulate itself and govern itself? We say yes.
That’s why the developments in the regulatory space are so vital. We’re ending duplication. We’re ending costly mandates designed to drive a specific philosophical agenda.
So, 10 years in the future, will we say that our water and our air are cleaner and our workplaces are safer? I say, yes, we will. Because we can be trusted. We care about our communities, our environment and our children. We accept the responsibility.
Manufacturers step up when faced with a challenge. And today, companies across the country are stepping up to address some of society’s most pressing concerns. Jay addressed this also, issuing a call to action for manufacturers to be “allies and advocates” in taking on the challenge of sexual harassment:
Right now, ladies and gentlemen, we’re being challenged in a new way. We’re being challenged to take on the insidious problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. The stories we hear, they’re horrifying. And as the “Me Too” movement grows, we have an obligation to step up as allies and advocates.
Your NAM is here to help lead the way. Through our Manufacturing Institute, we’ve championed diversity and worked to empower women leaders. But there’s more to do.
Our Manufacturers’ Compliance Institute stands at the ready to help you understand the laws and legal issues, especially if you don’t have the counsel you need.
We want to work with your HR departments to identify and share best practices. I want the Manufacturing Institute to be a convener for those discussions…as well as the Council of Manufacturing Associations, which has already taken on this issue, in part through the Women’s CEO Networking Group.
Here’s what the influential outlet Axios said on the new era of corporate social responsibility. They report that businesses are tackling some of our most pressing societal problems, from climate change to immigration, LGBT discrimination and the opioid crisis, delivering real change without being regulated to do so.
And of course we are. We don’t have to be told to do what is right. When I’m challenged by the media, or challenged by some pontificating lawmaker about these things, all I have to do is tell your stories, to point to you, people who I respect and people who are respected by their employees. Yours are the examples that America needs to know about.
In a country that is so often divided, manufacturing continues to be a unifying force. As an industry, we recognize we have an obligation to bring people together for the good of our country. As Jay noted, this was evident during our recent NAM 2018 State of Manufacturing Tour:
The other thing we witnessed on this tour is the power of manufacturing to bring people together. We had elected Democrats and elected Republicans joining us.
We had people of all ages and ethnicities enthused about our industry…on the East Coast, West Coast, Midwest and the Deep South. There is a lot that divides our nation right now. But manufacturing is one of those things that unites us.
Now is the time to show our fellow citizens that they can count on us—not just to make manufacturing stronger, but also to empower them to go as far as their dreams and talents will take them.
Manufacturers want to be in the business of lifting everyone up, leaving no one behind, of advancing the values that make America exceptional: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.
We give people work that provides meaning and purpose, that offers not just a paycheck, but the satisfaction of having created something that matters.
I said time and time again on the tour, anyone can imagine the future. Anyone can be a visionary. And America has been blessed with some of the best minds the world has ever seen. But while anyone can imagine the future, it takes a manufacturer to build it.
So, let’s do everything in our power to ensure manufacturers are ready to build the best future anyone can imagine.
2017 proved to be the Year of the Manufacturer. Now, with all that we’ve been given, with all that we can still achieve, this Board of Directors, this NAM team, this organization will make sure this is the Decade of the Manufacturer in America.