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Supply Chain Welcomes More Women Leaders

May 31, 2022
A new Gartner survey reveals increased representation in supply chain leadership roles, but there’s still more work to be done in terms of pay equity and opportunities for advancement.

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Women now account for 19% of C-level positions in the average supply chain organization, up from 15% in 2021, according to a new survey from Gartner, Inc. and AWESOME. However, women comprise 21% of VP-level roles, a decrease from 23% last year, and 39% of the total supply chain workforce are women, down from 41% in 2021.

These are just some of the interesting data points highlighted in the report, titled 2022 Women in Supply Chain Survey Reveals Mid-Pipeline Progress and Global Organizational Prowess. Despite the “Great Resignation,” Gartner says 2022’s results show sustained and even improved representation of women in supply chain. “Chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) remain committed to gender diversity, but this survey suggests that they will need to double-down on goal setting, leadership inclusion and career-pathing for women,” Caroline Chumakov, senior principal analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice said in a press release.

“Compared to the last year, representation of women in supply chain has improved at the first-line manager/supervisor, senior manager and director levels of the supply chain organization,” Chumakov added, “as well as at the senior-most level: the C-suite.”

Key Report Findings

Conducted online from February 24 through March 28, 2022, The Women in Supply Chain survey is based on input from 116 respondents in North America. Of the 116 respondents, 85 were end-user organizations with internal supply chains, while 31 were supply chain business services and solutions. Organizations also had to have a minimum of $100 million in annual revenue.

Among the key findings from this year’s report:

  • In 2022, women comprise 39% of the total supply chain workforce, down from 41% in 2021.
  • Compared to the previous year, representation of women in supply chain improved at the senior-most level, with women comprising 19% of C-level positions, up from 15% in 2021.
  • However, Gartner says supply chain leaders should not become complacent: 43% say the pandemic has had a net negative impact in the retention and progression of women in supply chain organizations over the past year.
  • Lack of advancement opportunities and pay equity remain an issue, the firm adds, with 59% of respondents stating they have no action plan to close the pay equity gap.

The research also revealed correlations between organizational size and purposeful goal setting that’s driving “improved representation of women in supply chain,” according to Gartner. For instance:

  • Nearly 50% of medium and large organizations ($100 million to $5 billion) have no objectives to increase the number of women leaders in their supply chain.
  • However, 83% of the largest, global organizations ($5 billion-plus) have a stated objective to improve representation of women in leadership.
  • And, 38% have incorporated formal targets that appear on management scorecards.

“Global organizations have better pipelines and better representation of women of underrepresented races and ethnicities,” said Chumakov. “They are also significantly more likely to have these women in a director position than medium or large organizations.”

Steps All Companies Can Take Now

To CSCOs who are responsible for strategic leadership of their supply chain organizations, Gartner and AWESOME offer these recommendations: 

  • Drive accountability in supply chain for gender diversity by setting specific goals, sharing them and incorporating them into management scorecards.
  • Track and require leadership inclusivity.
  • Motivate and engage women in first-line positions by focusing gender diversity initiatives on career pathing, development, work flexibility and other compelling elements of your employment value proposition (EVP).
  • Further differentiate your supply chain organization’s EVP by partnering with HR to understand the pay equity gap in your organization.
  • Co-develop a plan for bridging the pay equity gap, and determine what information you are willing and able to share publicly.
  • Improve representation of women at the manager or supervisor level by focusing on diversity recruitment initiatives. “Pull more women into senior manager positions by focusing on development programs specifically designed for women,” Gartner recommends, “and increase the number of women in director and vice president positions by equipping leaders to think and act inclusively.”

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About the Author

Bridget McCrea | Contributing Writer | Supply Chain Connect

Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who covers business and technology for various publications.