‘Traditionally a large part of the population has not been aware of the supply chain opportunities,’ begins Dana Stiffler, Managing VP at Gartner, when asked if women feel like the industry is welcoming enough for them. One of the reasons is that for a very long time logistics and transportation have been seen as mostly physical jobs where males are needed. In addition, the work atmosphere for women in supply chain and logistics has been far away from welcoming on many occasions.
More women, however, look at the industry and realise that it is an exciting place to work with a lot of opportunities. Stiffler is honest about her belief that some male leaders in the industry have not been as welcoming as others. When talking about some of the areas where there are more men, it is natural that women cannot see themselves being part of them. ‘Sometimes it has been challenging for women to fit hourly roles with their overall responsibilities, Gartner’s expert continues.
A huge factor for women in logistics is how much support they would get from the leadership of the company. Very often two different sides of the same company can have two very diverging attitudes towards women.
retain and attract more women. One will be the recruitment process. She advises firms to align their internship programs with local universities. ‘There is still a big difference in a lot of the university programs,’ Stiffler admits. Multiple professional organisations can also provide support and help organisations find the right candidates and keep their recruitment unbiased.
An important aspect is how to retain women in the organisation. In order to provide a fair ground, companies are looking at their internal process for promotions. It is crucial to ask how decisions are made, and how to take bias
out of them. Some companies are setting goals and objectives for what they want the representation to be. Increasingly executives’ compensations are tied up to reaching these goals. Organisations have realised that more diverse teams perform better and have higher success.
A popular technique people are using is the appointment of an Auditor, who would monitor meetings where promotion decisions are made and look for unconscious biases in language. This helps to clear biases and adds more awareness. ‘This is someone who is very respected but doesn’t have a personal interest in the candidate that is being discussed. If a woman is described as aggressive, they can alert people how they are using language.’ Another interesting way of removing bias is by assuming that all candidates have been already promoted and to try and decide why they wouldn’t get the promotion.
Diversity & Leadership
A big number of supply chain organisations do not plan to focus on any aspect of diversity and inclusion. The largest global organisations have made significant progress in a short amount of time, but smaller and medium size companies are still behind. Public held companies are more visible and their investors and customers are much more demanding. Privately owned organisations, on the other hand, are hard to monitor and often do not change until the very last moment. ‘SMEs are not experiencing the same kind of pressure and they will be slower to act,’ Stiffler says.
Even smaller and more conservative organisations are thinking about retaining and attracting more women because Millennials and Gen Z are more vocal about their wish to work for diverse firms. ‘Older supply chain leaders are forced to think differently because people are not accepting their job offers,’ Stiffler says. ‘Young people are not very excited to come work for them because they look very old-fashioned.’ ✷