The numbers just aren’t adding up. Women make up 40% of the workforce in supply chain organizations, yet only 15% of these firms have female representation at the executive levels, recent research shows.
So the Global Supply Chain Institute in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville looked into the matter and reported their findings in a recent study, “Young Professional Women’s Perspectives on Supply Chain Gender Equity."
“A 2017 study by the Boston Consulting Group found that organizations with more diverse management teams generate higher revenue because they embrace innovation,” says Diane Mollenkopf, supply chain professor in the Haslam College of Business and the paper’s author. “Our Supply Chain Forum partners who find success following best practices pursue ambitious diversity goals. Likewise, to achieve better profitability and productivity, other supply chain organizations should establish practices that encourage the hiring and promotion of women and minorities.”
Covering such topics as the transition from college to business, the “perfection trap” women face in school and work, and their struggle to gain respect in some male-dominated organizations, the paper maps out steps supply chain organizations can take to nurture a culture of gender neutrality and diversity:
- establishing an environment in which leadership recognizes issues such as inherent bias and espouses a mission supportive of gender neutrality and increased diversity
- creating mentoring/coaching programs to ease the entrance to the business world, bolster networking opportunities, and provide role models for career advancement
- providing flexible work policies that emphasize work-life balance and maximize growth opportunities
“The relevance of this research cannot be overstated,” Mary Long, managing director of the Supply Chain Forum and contributing editor on the paper, points out. “A recent study shows that the loss of a single midcareer supply chain professional can cost a company two to three times their salary. Supply chain leaders should learn from the issues identified here to prevent costly losses of female supply chain managers in the future.”
To help apply such learnings, the paper includes a framework to guide individuals and organizations toward fostering better working environments, development opportunities, and ultimately more diverse organizational leadership. This framework is adapted from one created by AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management, and Education).