This year marks the highest rate of women in top corporate supply chain positions, with retail and consumer goods businesses showing the strongest leadership growth. Findings from Gartner’s 2020 Women in Supply Chain Survey are prompting young women to start a career in the Australian logistics industry.
According to Gartner, Inc.’s 2020 Women in Supply Chain Survey, 17 per cent of chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) are now women – a 6 per cent increase compared to 2019 and the highest rate since the first edition of the survey in 2016. The 2020 Women in Supply Chain Survey, released on July 21, gathered data from 177 shippers and supply-chain providers with more than $100 million in revenue.
However the Australian workforce in supply chain and freight logistics can be typified as ageing and male dominated. Dana Stiffler, Vice President Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice said the increase in women executive leaders over the past year is a positive sign, however the survey showed that women don’t consistently make it through the pipeline.
“Lack of progress is not something the industry can afford at the moment. Supply chain’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent recovery is crucial, with lives and livelihoods at stake. This is a pivotal time for many women in mid level and senior management positions,” she said.
Calls for young women to get into the logistics industry
The Australian logistics and transport industry has had to adapt quickly to the challenges posed by COVID-19, with the pandemic highlighting the importance of efficient supply chains. As of 2017, only 20 per cent of people working in the wider transport industry are women.
23-year-old TAFE NSW graduate Molly Paterson has gone from the reception desk to the corporate office, nabbing a coveted job as a logistics coordinator at a leading global logistics company. Now she’s calling on other young people to consider an in-demand career in the sector.
Molly always knew that she loved organising, planning, problem solving and helping people and originally started working at the logistics company as a receptionist to gain some general office experience.
Molly said she started to take on as much extra work as she could in different areas of the company to make herself more valuable. “I began assisting in the areas of operations and customer service and it was then that I realised this was my passion,” she said.
“I knew I needed to undertake some formal training to hone my skills and further my career, and after researching discovered the TAFE NSW Certificate IV in Logistics would be the perfect choice to equip me with the hands-on knowledge and skills to excel at the company.”
Molly completed her qualification in June and said the wealth of knowledge she acquired has helped to fast-track her career and set her up for success.
With her newfound skills and qualification, Molly was able to secure a job as a Logistics Coordinator and Pallet Controller at the global logistics company and plans to complete her Diploma in Logistics in the near future.
“I would love to see more young people and especially women get into the logistics industry. It is an ever- changing industry which is fantastic for innovative minds. Logistics is an essential part of our everyday lives from getting food on the shelves to the clothes on our backs to the crucial medication we need for our hospitals which makes it an amazing industry to work in.”
Consumer Goods & Retail Organisations lead the way
At 25 per cent, consumer goods and retail supply chain organisations’ representation of women at vice president level is nearly twice that of industrial organisations.
Gartner stated that one reason for this development is that 55 per cent of industrial organizations prefer a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degree for senior hires, compared to 39 per cent of consumer organisations.
“Another notable difference between industrial and consumer/retail supply chain organisations is goal setting. Consumer and retail organisations were more than twice as likely to have formal targets and specific goals in management scorecards for gender diversity,” the Vice President Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice said.
Compared to 2019, there are proportionally fewer women at the vice president and director levels.
In 2020, 63 per cent of respondents do have active goals, objectives or initiatives to recruit women and build pipelines, but Dana said it takes years for this activity to strengthen pipelines. This dynamic also contributes to representation of women in the total supply chain workforce remaining unchanged at 39 per cent year over year.
Until recently, gender-focused inclusion and diversity initiatives focused mostly on employee resource groups and women’s leadership development programs.
While organisations still value those initiatives, Gartner have found that improved pipeline planning and management is a key factor for attracting and retaining diverse talent in leadership positions.
“Not a single respondent cited employee resource groups as a top action for progressing women to senior leadership roles in supply chain. Leadership development programs or improved work-life balance also didn’t make the list,” Dana said.
“However, 21 per cent claim that integrated pipeline planning is their best approach. This reinforces what we have found over the years: The right place to focus for diverse senior leadership is the pipeline and the decisions that support it.”