I want to pick up on a topic that has become quite a priority to me in the past few weeks, as I mentioned in my last post: Women in Supply Chain. Looking at the numbers only 24% of our recent Supply Chain executive event attendees were women. Yet almost half of graduates coming out of college programs focused on Supply Chain in the U.S. are female. So where are all these talented women going, if they are not staying in Supply Chain? If Supply Chain leaders could figure out how to keep women in Supply Chain, this could go a long way to solving the current talent crisis we face, especially in the middle manager to director level where our research shows we have the largest gap.
What can be done to keep women in Supply Chain? On May 6th and 7th I attended the AWESOME Women in Supply Chain annual symposium, hosted by Johnson & Johnson. It was a truly remarkable experience to be in a room with 200 senior level women. Ann Drake, CEO of DSC Logistics, saw a need for women in Supply Chain roles to network, grow and learn and founded this organization (www.awesomeleaders.org ) in 2013. Its rapid growth to about 600 in just two years is testament to the value it provides and how it helps advance women supply chain leaders.
I left the AWESOME event with some great insights I want to share:
• More companies are starting to train all associates involved in hiring on “unconscious bias” that often gets in the way, and how to recognize and deal with it. This is especially important in the hiring process regarding diversity.
• We need to be out there at all levels; from Supply Chain programs in colleges to more senior folks and promote how cool Supply Chain really is – relying on HR to tell Supply Chain’s story is risky. We must promote opportunities for women and generally the younger generation in Supply Chain roles. Education is still required – too often people think Supply Chain is just Logistics, or just Procurement.
• A panel of men shared their thoughts and I loved the comment “it’s not about equality, it’s about treating people fairly…” The discussion went on to talk about how many jobs in Supply Chain do provide flexibility for women to work different hours, have work at home days and recognize that this type of work environment can help retain top women talent, as well as millennials generally who will be seeking more flexibility.
• Having a sponsor versus mentors. In the panel discussions a few very senior level women spoke about the importance of having a sponsor to help you with your progression. This person would ideally be two levels above you and have a vested interest in supporting your progress beyond a linear type career path, and help you navigate the corporate waters.
• Women must have more confidence in themselves and their abilities. They should look for the opportunities to move into roles that they maybe don’t have the perfect experience for, but have the talent and desire. This is a great way to build out your T-Shape capabilities and become a more valuable asset to the company.
What are your thoughts? What can companies do to better leverage women in Supply Chain? What are the barriers to overcome in your organization?