AWESOME and Gartner study women’s supply chain leadership
Supply chain organizations are challenged when it comes to attracting, retaining, and advancing top talent — including women — and we know diversity enhances a company’s ability to innovate, compete, and succeed. The rapidly changing business environment and rise of digital business creates a growing challenge for supply chain innovation and changing talent requirements.
AWESOME and Gartner have closely watched the progress of women in supply chain since 2016 when first partnering to conduct original Women in Supply Chain Research.
Results have been announced each year by Dana Stiffler, Gartner’s VP Research, at the annual AWESOME Symposium. The full 2019 report is now available for download here.
Some of the good news in 2019 is that more of the supply chain organizations surveyed have set goals and launched specific initiatives to improve gender diversity. This was a trend over the past few years, yet previous survey results showed women’s participation and representation in supply chain remained flat.
This year, the percentage of female VPs among the organizations reporting rose from 20% to 28%. We still have a steep climb to achieve gender equity, but an 8% increase is significant. We also saw a slight uptick in percentages of women among the total workforce and at the first-line manager, senior manager and director levels.
The 2019 research found that organizations reporting progress tend to also report:
- They have goals and formalized initiatives.
- They have focused their efforts on recruiting and integrated pipeline planning programs.
- They have initiatives to engage men as advocates.
- The supply chain organization is leading the initiative.
Other actions identified to either better attract and retain women or better progress women to top jobs include:
- Increasing visibility of women leaders
- Changing cultural values and behaviors
- Proving more opportunities and stretch assignments
- Addressing the workplace environment and family policies.
The one finding that is not so positive is that we saw a decrease in the number of women at the SVP, EVP and C-suite levels over the past two years. Gartner predicts “…the big uptick at the VP level will play through to a rebound at the executive level over the next couple of years.”
Download 2019 AWESOME/Gartner Women in Supply Chain Research Report
Key 2018 Findings include:
- Representation of women in the senior-most ranks —CSCO, SVP, EVP, or CPO reporting to the CEO — is strong and sustained year over year relative to other functions, but remains low and flat at all other levels of leadership.
- Compared with 2017, more respondents report supply-chain-led formal goals and initiatives to improve gender diversity.
- Increasing the visibility of successful women leaders as role models is one of the most important things companies can do to impact recruitment and retention, as well as advancement of women to senior levels.
The complete report of the 2018 Women in Supply Chain Survey is now available for download.
The second AWESOME/Gartner survey was launched in February 2017 to assess progress made in the past year and also identify barriers or enablers contributing to that progress. Participants in the study were supply chain leaders in manufacturing, retail, or other companies managing complex supply chains.
Key findings include:
- Among different kinds of companies, consumer goods continues to lead in its progression of women leaders, while the industrial sector has edged up slightly.
- Organizations are embracing recruiting and broader pipeline planning – practices that lead to more substantive results than employee workgroups and leadership training.
- Executive focus and action, recruiting policy changes, and high visibility of senior female leaders are the primary reasons companies make progress.
Download pdf of report
The first AWESOME/Gartner survey was conducted in 2016 to determine the representation of women leaders in those leadership roles. The research also set out to highlight specific activities companies are engaged in to better attract, develop, retain and advance women in supply chain organizations.
According to Dr. Nancy Nix, AWESOME Executive Director, “One of the most surprising findings is that although there is a general perception that women are gaining higher levels of leadership in supply chain, the survey found that actual progress is much slower than that perception would suggest.”
“This study gives a foundation to work from so we can measure actual progress going forward,” she added.
Results were released at the AWESOME Symposium in May 2016 and the report can be downloaded here. The research also was described in an article in Supply Chain Management Review written by Dr. Nancy Nix, AWESOME Executive Director, and Dana Stiffler, Research Vice President at Gartner Research.
Download report pdf
Download article pdf
As a follow-up, one-on-one interviews were conducted with some of the original respondents to further explore their experiences and their insights into effective company strategies to advance women.