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As the labor market continues to tighten, more companies are taking the necessary steps to recruit and retain more women in a wide range of supply chain jobs.
When Gartner surveyed companies last year about the number of women holding senior leadership positions in supply chain, 14% of firms (down from 15% in 2017) had female leaders holding titles like senior vice president, executive vice president, and chief procurement officer running their supply chain operations.
“While this may strike first-time readers of this research as low, it’s a healthy and even market-beating showing compared with other functions, such as finance and accounting,” Gartner reports in its 2018 Women in Supply Chain Survey.
“Much of this can be attributed to our sample consisting primarily of active members of a senior women’s leadership network (Awesome),” Gartner adds. “Our sample also has many large, publicly held companies where enterprise-wide efforts to develop and promote women are starting to bear fruit.”
Creating New Initiatives
Dealing with a tight labor market and a definite lack of skilled/experienced labor to fill warehousing, transportation, and logistics jobs, a growing number of companies are thinking about how to get more women interested and engaged in supply chain-related careers.
In its survey, for example, Gartner says that one significant shift that took place last year involved the percentage of respondents who said their organizations had “specific goals to increase the number of women in the supply chain organization.”
In 2018, for example, the research firm saw a 7% increase from 2017 — 43% to 50% — in the percentage of companies that have stated objectives in this area. “Most notably,” Gartner adds, “all of the increase is from respondents going beyond general objectives to setting specific goals that appear on management scorecards.”
More Diversity and Inclusion, Please
When it comes to getting more women involved at both the leadership and operational levels of the supply chain and logistics industry, there’s still more work to be done. In Women in the Supply Chain: How far have we come?, Gartner’s Dana Stiffler tells Modern Material Handling that over the last two years things have largely remained flat for women in supply chain leadership positions.
“We’re still in a place where women account for on average 37% or 38% of the average supply chain organization,” Stiffler told MMH. “Then, as you go through the different levels of leadership, that percentage kind of drops off.”
Currently, one in five (20%) of supply chain VPs, on average, are women, according to Gartner. When asked to peer into their crystal balls and guess what role women will be playing in supply chain management in 2023, survey participants said representation will be roughly one in three, a 50% increase over 2018.
Walking the Walk
In How to attract more women to supply chain management, Ajilon’s Tisha Danehl writes that change must be enacted in order to attract a new generation of supply chain managers—the kind of change that includes women at every level and fosters opportunities for growth with women in mind.
“As technology has taken over, gone are the days where the industry was characterized as blue collar and heavily reliant on manual labor, thus offering new possibilities to all,” Danehl points out. “The demand for these new workers is rapidly growing, and universities are also increasing the amount of supply chain management programs they’re offering.”
To help attract more women to supply chain jobs, and then keep them engaged in those positions and moving up the corporate ladder into senior positions, Danehl says companies should:
- Broaden the talent pool. Focus on internships and entry-level positions. Fill your pipeline through partnerships with supply chain programs at business universities that have at least 40% female participation for undergraduates, she suggests.
- When you have a new position open, set goals to bring a diverse group of candidates in for interviews that include several women. “Your team of hiring managers should also be comprised of women to avoid unconscious bias, as they will often be more likely to identify potential female talent,” Danehl advises.
- Offer the right employee benefits. “To bring in the best female talent you need to think outside the box and offer benefits and initiatives that are specifically geared towards women,” Danehl writes, noting that on-the-job training opportunities, flex time, and opportunities to work from home are all good choices.
- Offer mentorship programs. Make sure each person is paired up with someone who will help build their strengths, Danehl suggests, noting that mentorship programs are most effective when matches are based on the participants’ unique attributes and skill sets (versus gender alone).
DB Schenker relies on these and other strategies to create career opportunities that women will take an interest in and thrive in over time. “Here at DB Schenker, we value diversity and are extremely proud of the women who make up our workforce,” says Thessa Tozzi, Head of Sales and Marketing, Brazil, “both at the operational level and right up through the ranks and into the executive suite.”
“And while we know that there are still new inroads to make in 2019,” Tozzi continues, “we’re always pleased to see more women taking an interest in—and engaging in—supply chain positions across the board.”