Mhlnews 11187 Kimberly Clark Csco 1

Create Diversity in Thinking Suggests Kimberly-Clark Supply Chain Chief

May 22, 2019
"It’s a good business decision to be diverse, we can best represent what is happening in the outside world," says Sandra MacQuillan, Kimberly Clark’s CSCO.

As the supply chain continues to expand its role in providing value to companies, it too is now wrestling with how to attract and retain talent.

To better understand how companies are addressing this issue MH&L talked with Sandra MacQuillan, Kimberly Clark’s Chief Supply Chain Officer. She joined Kimberly-Clark in 2015 after serving as global vice president for the supply chain at Mars Inc.

MHL: As you took this position four years ago, what was your strategy for bolstering the supply chain?

SM: While the current supply chain was manufacturing driven I wanted to expand it to include a variety of functions such as logistics, procurement, safety and sustainability.

My goal was to have the supply chain create value from source to shelf. And to do that we need to partner with many business units. We could achieve this through three processes: Standardization, Simplification and Collaboration.

In addition to focusing on the broad picture,  I am simultaneously honing in on one of our core values which is people. I want our talent to focus on competency, and capacity and to understand the supply chain and how it can be a growth enabler.

To achieve this we had to have a specific talent agenda to make sure we have the right talent that has the necessary skills across the whole supply chain.

MHL: How did you ensure you had the right talent?

SM: We started with my own team and did an analysis to see where we were. It’s essential to have our internal business represent the population. We need diversity in gender, ethnicity, as well as diversity of style of leadership and thinking. It’s a good business decision to be diverse When we have this team in place we can best represent what is happening in the outside world.

I see our team developing in the right direction and we have made great strides. But I would point out that while we look at the makeup of our talent, I place more emphasis on the EQ (Emotional IQ) rather than the traditional IQ.  How you delivery your goals is a better way to measure success.

MHL: Talking specifically about gender equality in the workplace how is your company doing?

SM: Over the past 10 years, Kimberly-Clark has increased the number of women in senior management positions by 66%, through a focused effort to identify, develop and promote women in management.  

The approach includes:

  • WIN MAtters - A 12-month intensive leadership development program for professional women, which includes leadership training, individualized coaching, mentoring and project assignments to build team leadership skills. In 2018, 25% of the participants accepted a growth development move or promotion following the program.
  • Next Level - 12 - month talent development program designed to continuously improve business acumen and leadership skills of early-career women in preparation for the “next level” role at Kimberly-Clark.
  • Unconscious bias training for managers, to elevate awareness of attitudes that may get in the way of advancing women in management.
  • Reverse mentorships, where younger, millennial managers mentor senior leaders.
  • Flextime policies that enable all managers to balance work/life responsibilities.

These programs have progressed to the point where leadership in my division is about 50/50.  We have also our first female supply chain vice president for the region.

MHL: As you continue to evolve both the business role of your organization and the talent you manage, what about your personal style will ensure success?

SM: My team has described me as being on a journey of confidence. In my various roles at a variety of jobs, I have worked on my confidence and self-worth as a leader so I understand what others are going through on this journey.

For myself, I don’t focus on what I can’t do but instead on what I can. And I apply this to my team. I give them feedback that might be difficult. They appreciate that I am doing this from a place of caring and they find it inspiring.

I also ask my team to expand their views of themselves and their capabilities. Why do you want to keep yourself small when you are so amazing and you can take the leap? What’s holding you back? You can choose to take a risk. You will get more right than wrong. Learn to accept as human being we are pretty amazing.


Here are some of the other programs that the company has with regard to developing its talent.

Employee Resource Groups – Established in 1999, there are now ten groups with 60 chapters nation-wide. They are designed to help drive diversity and inclusion within Kimberly-Clark. These groups aim to foster a greater understanding of different perspectives and backgrounds through cultural events and panel discussions. They are an important forum for career mentorship and development and give back to our local communities through regular volunteer activities.

Mentorship Program --Each year, approximately 350 employees participate in formal mentor programs across the company; however, many more have informal mentors. The company has received positive feedback about the mentor program’s value year after year and plans to track the correlation of the mentor programs to retention and mobility through the company.

Original Thinkers Program – The program seeks people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives which leads to better insights and solutions.  This program helps attract employees that will help K-C make lives better and make a direct impact on essential brands like Kleenex and Huggies.

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