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.”