Women in Supply Chain

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Why women should play greater roles in supply chain.

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            Business competitiveness today could be enhanced by fostering creativity within the organization. That, can be accomplished by increasing women’s role in leadership positions and eliminating gender disparity. A survey conducted by Gartner and AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management & Education) revealed that many organizations have embraced this notion and are taking measures to change. Equal representation where women are allowed to demonstrate leadership potential is definitive of parity.

            As a Gartner and AWESOME survey in 2016 found that women accounted for only 35% of the entire supply chain workforce in the U.S. and Canadian companies where only 7% had leadership roles, a later survey conducted in 2018 shows an increase to 37% and 14% with respect to the proportion and leadership representation, respectively. By any means, the stats qualify for disparity.

               But why, though, should women’s role in supply chain be enhanced to begin with?  Let’s explore the key characteristics that adds value in the workplace for supply chains.

  • Multitasking – Women’s brains are designed in such a way that enables women to simultaneously perform multiple tasks better than men.  While men’s brains tend to function in vacillating straight lines, the movement of women are diverse in terms of pattern, which contributes to women’s multitasking ability.  And multitasking is the core of supply chain which requires cross-functional skills involving the ability to achieve a balance between customer needs and costs.
  • Collaboration – Optimal effectiveness of supply chain management relies on collaboration and cooperation from all key players.  Thus, collaboration requires everyone to be on the same page as teamwork is essential for everybody to work in the same direction.  Women tend to have better skills at collaborating good teamwork than men.
  • Ability to communicate and persuade – SCM World’s 2017 Future of Supply Chain Survey found that the most important skills for top supply chain leaders are leadership skills followed by communication and persuasion skills widely known as intrinsic to women.
  • Innovations – Research conducted by the London Business School has found that a team made up of an equal number of men and women usually generate useful innovations.  Furthermore, research by the Center for Talent Innovation has revealed that diversity in a company’s workforce can lead to innovations that account for future business success.

            Let’s now look at some examples of successful women in supply chain.  Mary Barra became the Chairman and CEO of General Motors Company in 2014 and was the first female CEO of a major global automaker at the time.

           The perfect candidate for the job it seemed, having a previous work track in procurement and supply chain attracted great attention among investors following the position at General Motors as CEO.  Yet, her leadership and vision proved evident in several difficult situations, one being amidst a massive recall after accidents that resulted in more than 100 lost lives. Despite the rising competition from China, Barra’s leadership and management of the supply chain saw General Motors’ share price rise by 15% and a significant upturn in the Supplier Working Relations Index Score. Noteworthy also, there were five women executives out of eleven on the management board in the Barra era as CEO.

Supplier Working Relations Index THE 17TH ANNUAL NORTH AMERICAN AUTOMATIVE OEM – SUPPLIER WORKING RELATIONS INDEX

           No question, women and men have different outlooks for most matters in general. Both bring similar basic hard skills to the table but when it comes to leadership, there’s a difference. The important thing to note, is that a level playing field is required to allow equal representation and opportunities for different resumes to prove its merit with outcome based measurements, free from predispositions and thus the perceptions of intrinsic boundaries that come with.

 

Compiled by BLOG.SCGLogistics

References and photos forbes.com, supplychain247.com, awesomeleaders.org, knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu, pixabay.com

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