New White Paper focuses on obstacles and opportunities for women as gender balance in supply chain leadership roles is still on the distant horizon

The supply chain workforce shortage and skills gap have been the #1 topic of MHI’s Annual Industry Report for the past six years. Recruiting, retaining and developing a diverse management team has proven to be a growing differentiator for supply chain firms. Additionally, the skill sets where women shine (multitasking, collaboration, communication and influence) are highly sought-after in the cross-functional, complex, and fast-paced world of the global supply chains.

Given this reality, why do women still only represent 24% of the material handling workforce and only 15% of executive-level positions in supply chain organizations?

A new white paper tackles this topic by focusing on the experiences of women supply chain professionals as they enter the workforce to assesses obstacles hampering their advancement and opportunities they see in moving toward a more gender-neutral supply chain future.

The paper, titled Young Professional Women’s Perspectives on Supply Chain Gender Equity, was just published by the Global Supply Chain Institute in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The paper’s unique perspective offers an opportunity for firms to assess, and perhaps re-assess, onboarding programs to help create inclusive workplaces that are diverse and capable of recruiting and retaining top supply chain talent.

A variety of topics are covered including the transition from college to the workforce, the “perfection trap” women face, and their struggle to gain respect in some male-dominated organizations.

The conclusion of the report includes a roadmap for creating better working environments and development opportunities for the next generation of leadership. This roadmap is adapted from a framework created by AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management, and Education) and includes the following steps towards gender neutrality and diversity:

—creating an environment where leadership recognizes issues such as inherent bias and promotes a culture supportive of gender neutrality and increased diversity that pervades all work-sites, from headquarters to operating facilities
—establishing onboarding programs that include mentoring and coaching to ease the entrance to the business world, improved networking opportunities and role models for career advancement
—providing flexible work policies that emphasize work/life balance and maximize growth opportunities

Download the full white paper.