The Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers—announced it will recognize Amanda Edwards, vice president of enterprise excellence at Shaw, with a STEP Ahead Award at its annual awards ceremony in November. 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. Edwards was recognized for her commitment to STEM education, inspiring future female engineers, and uplifting women throughout their manufacturing careers.

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 alumni 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 alumnae programs. The stories of these women and the leadership they show will help inspire next-generation female leaders in manufacturing and support female talent already 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.

“I am both proud and humbled to receive this great honor,” Edwards said. “I have always loved knowing how things are made. In manufacturing, you get to work with real people making products that consumers need. As a leader in manufacturing, it is my job to ensure the time our associates spend away from their families making flooring is worth it. As a working mother, that is particularly meaningful to me.”

Edwards was the first female operations leader of Shaw’s quality assurance, technical support, accredited lab and operational excellence teams. Her responsibilities in this role included traveling to China and restructuring a quality assurance program in Asia, where she hired and built leadership teams that aligned with company values. Currently, she drives compliance and risk mitigation in North America, Asia, and throughout all Shaw facilities across the globe.  Edwards is now the Chair - and was the first female voting member - of Carpet and Rug Institute's Strategic Issues Leadership Council, focusing on consumer marketing efforts and promoting the viability of soft surfaces in the flooring industry.

“Amanda embodies what it means to be a servant leader and lives Shaw’s mission to create a better future--both inside our company and out in the community,” said David Morgan, executive vice president of operations for Shaw. “She’s paved the way for other women at Shaw, mentored young engineers and inspired future STEM leaders through her involvement with our local college. She’s also a customer-centric leader with a bias towards action and results and her attention to detail has saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars through process improvements and innovations. I cannot think of someone more deserving of this honor and congratulate her on such a notable achievement.”

On Nov. 4, the Manufacturing Institute will recognize 130 recipients of the STEP Ahead Awards, including Shaw’s Edwards, at a gala in Washington, D.C. The STEP Ahead Awards program will highlight each honoree’s story, including her leadership and accomplishments in manufacturing.

To view a complete list of the 2021 recipients, click here.