In 2022, women account for 19% of C-level positions in the average supply chain organization - up from 15% in 2021 - according to a survey by Gartner Supply Chain Practice.
However, the total number of women in VP-level roles (21%) is down 2% on last year, as is the total number of women in the supply chain workforce.
“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,” said Caroline Chumakov, senior principal analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice, which provides actionable insight for supply chain leaders and their teams
She adds: “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, as well as at the senior-most level: the C-suite.”
The Women in Supply Chain survey was conducted online from February 24 to March 28, and had 116 respondents, primarily in North America. Of the respondents, 85 were end-user organizations with internal supply chains, and 31 were supply chain business services and solutions. Organizations also had to have a minimum of $100 million in annual revenue.
Women fare better in larger organisations - Gartner
The survey - co-produced by AWESOME, an organisation that promotes and celebrates women in the supply chain workforce - also found there is a relationship between organisational size and improved representation of women in supply chain. Nearly 50% of medium and large organizations ($100 million to $5 billion) have no aim to increase the number of women leaders in their supply chain.
However, 83% of the largest, global organizations ($5 billion+) have a stated objective to improve representation of women in leadership, and 38% have incorporated formal targets that appear on management scorecards.
“Global organisations have better pipelines and better representation of women 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.”
Supply chain leaders who have seen improvements in gender-balanced representation in their organisation should not become complacent in their efforts, Gartner says. A total of 43% of supply chain leaders say the pandemic has had a net negative impact in the retention and progression of women in supply chain organizations over the past year.
Pay now key issue for women in supply chain
This is a significant increase compared to the 2021 survey, where only 11% said there was a negative impact. Over half of end-user organizations state retaining midcareer women is an increasing challenge, with an additional 19% indicating it is a significant challenge.
Respondents say the top reason mid-career women are leaving is because they lack career or advancement opportunities - an increase on last year’s responses. The fastest-climbing response is that women are leaving to seek better pay (43%), up from 24% in 2021.
“While 14% of end-user organisations stated they’ve already achieved pay equity, it is concerning that 59% of respondents have no action plan to close the gap," Chumakov says. "In today’s hypercompetitive labor market where women are increasingly seeking out pay increases and ethical employers, these data points reveal a hidden attraction and retention risk.”
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