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Supply Chain Welcomes More Women to its Ranks

by | IntelliTrans | Jul 8, 2021 | Blog News

New report from Gartner shows that women now make up 41% of the supply chain workforce, up from 39% in 2020.

According to a new 2021 survey from Gartner, Inc., women now comprise 41% of the supply chain workforce, up from 39% last year. The research firm says every leadership level saw an increase in representation, except the executive level, where there has been a slight decline.

In 2021, for example, women account for 15% of executive level roles—down from 17% in 2020.

The Women in Supply Chain Survey 2021 by Gartner and AWESOME surveyed 223 supply chain organizations from February through March 2021. The findings showed the highest percentage of women in the supply chain workforce since the first edition of the survey in 2016. 

"Contrary to other industries, supply chain’s mission-criticality during the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many sectors did not reduce their workforce, but rather continued to hire and even faced talent shortages, especially in the product supply chains," Dana Stiffler, vice president analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, said in a press release. 

"This resulted in many women not only standing their ground in supply chain organizations but increasing their representation in organizations,” Stiffler continued. “We also documented a record number of specific commitments and supply chain-led actions and saw existing programs starting to pay off."


Retaining Midcareer Women isn’t Easy

Gartner says that the pandemic does not appear to have disrupted supply chain gender equality efforts. In fact, 84% of organizations stated that COVID-19 had no discernible impact on their ability to retain and advance women. 

However, 54% of survey respondents said that retaining midcareer women (generally considered those in their early-30s to late-40s) is an increasing challenge. Gartner say that a lack of career opportunities is the top reason that midcareer women left a supply chain organization or provider. The second-most selected option was development opportunities. 

"Supply chain leaders who are serious about their gender equality efforts must create tailored leadership development programs,” Stiffler said, “and explore flexible work policies that cater to the needs of midcareer women.”

Setting Gender Diversity Goals

For Gartner’s Women in Supply Chain Survey 2021, Gartner partnered with AWESOME to develop the survey and recruit participants. Qualified participants worked in organizations that have an internal supply chain organization or in organizations where supply chain is a separate business unit, specialty or practice area, or those who are vendors of supply chain services and solutions. Organizations tracked and analyzed had to have a minimum of $100 million in annual revenue. 

Gartner says surveys from prior years have shown that setting goals and having stated objectives are crucial drivers for improvements in pipelines and other diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) outcomes. In 2021, the proportion of supply chain organizations with any type of goal jumped to 73% from 64% in 2020. 

Within the subset of respondents (29%) that have stated objectives, Gartner found that 68% have supply chain organizations with targeted initiatives focused on women—a big step up from 46% in 2020. 

"It's encouraging to see that the larger share of this jump was for more formal targets and specific goals on management scorecards,” Stiffler observed. “For these respondents, there is greater accountability for results—and we see the correlation with stronger representation and inclusion showing up in pipelines.”

IntelliTrans Celebrates Amazing Women in Supply Chain

IntelliTrans has been showcasing some of supply chain’s most amazing women every month in our Amazing Women Supply Chain series. Through our interviews with these women, we’ve been uncovering many of the trials and tribulations that these professionals have experienced in the field, and in their own careers. 

With an impressive career spanning three decades in supply chain, for example, Cindy Bond of Phillips 66 has experience across all facets of supply chain, logistics, and transportation management. Starting with a position in PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, Bond began laying down the foundation for a successful, long-term career in a field that both stoked her curiosity and let her take an active role in the business. 

Today, Bond is Manager, Surface Transportation and Logistics for Phillips 66, a diversified energy manufacturing and logistics company that was formed in 2012 when ConocoPhillips separated into two standalone, publicly-traded companies. Over the last 20 years she’s advanced through the company (first with Conoco, ConocoPhillips and then with Phillips 66), along the way gaining a very broad knowledge of supply chain and everything that goes with it. 

Alisha Ayre was working on an engineering assignment in Ireland when she realized that her true calling was probably a career in supply chain and logistics. “A lightbulb came on when I realized that we’d have to figure out how to make the material that was going to be feeding another process downstream in the supply chain,” says Ayre, who was working for Johnson & Johnson at the time. “At that point, it was ‘all systems go’ and nothing but supply chain responsibilities from that day forward.”

In 2011, Ayre was hired by W.R. Grace as a Lead Six Sigma Black Belt supporting the company’s supply chain and logistics operations. Today she manages a 4-person team and is responsible for all of W.R. Grace’s inbound and outbound North American freight movement.

Laura Eory’s career in supply chain started with a DOT internship building databases for the Michigan Division’s procurement processes. It was 2005, and Eory was a student in Michigan State University’s supply chain program. Upon graduation, she accepted a job offer from Kraft Foods, got married, and moved to Lansing, Mich., all within the same week. 

That whirlwind would culminate in a successful, 15-year (and still counting) career in a field that would find Eory working for multiple companies and industries, building her resume, and learning all she could about the field. Today, she leads a 3-person team and about 30 indirect reports, all of whom are focused on transportation planning. “We lead the strategy and oversee what we should be doing in the plant,” she says, “all the while making sure transportation is looking forward and not simply reacting.” control_room_graphic (1)
Technology that Drives the Modern Supply Chain

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By leveraging tracking information, the Global Control Tower provides analytics that measures key performance indicators (KPIs) like fleet cycle time, origin/destination dwell time, lane and hauler performance, back orders, freight spend, load optimization, and more. With their rate, equipment, lease, tracking, and invoice data in a central repository that’s accessible 24/7, companies can position themselves for success in any market conditions.