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- Feb. 4, 2016 -


Supply Chain Graphic of the Week: How is the Pipeline of Women in the Supply Chain Progressing?

Percent of Women in Supply Chain College Programs is Growing, but Industry Not Seeing the Impact Yet in Terms of Senior Management Roles


By SCDigest Editorial Staff



There certainly are a lot more women in supply chain than ever before, but just how many more, and are they ascending into senior leadership positions?


The analysts at Gartner recently put together some numbers on this subject, as shown in the chart below. As you can see, women now make up 41% of students enrolled in undergraduate university programs related to supply chain management in the US. Although Gartner does not offer numbers for previous years, we are pretty certain that the percentage of female students in supply chain undergrad programs is up substantially from five years ago.




But as can also be seen, the percentage of women in director-level and above supply chain roles drops of quite a bit, to just 20%, and  then there is a huge shortfall in terms of executive positions in the global Fortune 500, where women hold only 3% of the top spots.


"The middle of the supply chain talent pipeline [for women] has major leaks," Gartner says.


SCDigest says we need more data. Many director level positions are held by more senon managers who likely went to school when the percent of women in supply chain programs was much smaller than today, and that would be true even more so at the top of the supply chain org chart.


In other words, is the "leakage" as bad as these numbers might indicate, or has the pipeline "bulge" of women in supply chain simply not moved far enough along?


We would also like to have numbers relative to the number of women in graduate supply chain programs, which increasing produce the most senior executives over time.


Perhaps most importantly, are women leaving supply chain roles for another field, or are they running into a ceiling that prevents upward movement to more senior positions? Our guess: a bit of both.


There is a general consensus that there is an emerging "talent" crisis coming in the supply chain, as a wave of baby boomers are at or near retirement, and the demand for supply chain professionals keeps growing.


Developing and keeping more women in supply chain is certainly one important component of meeting this talent challenge.


Any Feedback on our Supply Chain Graphic of the Week? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


Recent Feedback

At the company that I work, there is a large turnover in this department due to poor leadership and mismanagement between the digital side and the store side. The Supply Chain (SC) branch is siloed and stuck in the middle. Many women who do get hired into SC roles leave due to lack of advancement and mismanagement, and poor attitudes by male co-workers towards female workers (ironic b/c this is a woman's retail company).

Although,  the Senior Vice President is a woman, she was also pigeon-holed and her input overlooked, which she has grumbled about and told anyone who would listen. Originally, the branch was under the direction of a male executive but as of last week, the company restructured and was moved over to be under the umbrella of a top female executive and the Director was fired. Hopefully, the shift will better streamline the process and remove SC from isolation, have better transparency and allow women more opportunities to give feedback and be recognized.

My two co-workers who worked in transportation, left the supply chain side, one entry level, the other middle management and came over to the digital side of ecommerce. I tried in vain to apply for SC, even with a APICS-CPIM background, my attempts at an interview were ignored due to lack of experience and IT knowledge, even though I have the digital and retail background. So overall, there are many factors holding women back but I think the same feeling is shared among us all in our company -- women will not work for people who do not value their contributions or recognize their accomplishments or are subjected to masogynistic attitudes. Overall, a shift in attitude towards women must start at the top and be upheld at all levels.

Digital Content Administrator
Feb, 06 2016