Editor's Note: The following is a guest post written by Tisha Danehl, vice president of Ajilon. Viewpoints expressed in this article do not represent those of Supply Chain Dive.
While women make up 37% of today’s supply chain workforce, they only fill 15% of top-level supply chain positions, according to a 2017 report from Gartner and AWESOME, a non-profit organization focused on growing the number of women in supply chain leadership roles.
That significant gap is why change must be enacted in order to attract a new generation of supply chain managers — one that includes women at every level and fosters opportunities for growth with women in mind.
As technology has taken over, gone are the days where the industry was characterized as blue collar and heavily reliant on manual labor, thus offering new possibilities to all. The demand for these new workers is rapidly growing, and universities are also increasing the amount of supply chain management programs they’re offering.
According to Gartner research, full time student enrollment in the top 25 supply chain programs rose 43%, from 8,500 to 12,200, in just two years from 2014 to 2016. It’s never been a better time for women to consider a career path in this field.
With the widespread rise of conversation on workplace equality, the supply chain and manufacturing industries have the responsibility to be more inclusive to women and act as a model for how other industries can attract talent at every level.
Below are the top ways supply chain and manufacturing managers can change the industry from the inside-out and bring in talented women who will add value to their businesses.
Broaden your talent pool
Recruitment of more women is the first step to building up the workforce of the future. Start by focusing on internships and entry-level positions. One way to do this is to fill your pipeline through partnerships with supply chain programs at business universities that have at least 40% female participation for undergraduates.
When you have a new position open, set goals to bring a diverse group of candidates in for interviews that include several women. Your team of hiring managers should also be comprised of women to avoid unconscious bias, as they will often be more likely to identify potential female talent.
Offer employee benefits that will attract and retain women
Both men and women prioritize factors such as a competitive salary, good benefits package and opportunities for growth when looking for a new job. But to bring in the best female talent you need to think outside the box and offer benefits and initiatives that are specifically geared towards women.
On-the-job training opportunities and executive leadership programs that connect women with company leaders are great ways to demonstrate your dedication to helping women grow and advance their careers within your company. Things like flex time and opportunities to work from home are also particularly beneficial for women who may be starting a family and interested in work-life balance.
Offer mentorship programs with opportunities to learn
Formalized mentorship programs are one of the most valuable offerings that an organization can have, and they only become all the more beneficial in industries where women are traditionally under-represented. Make sure each person is paired up with someone who will help build their strengths — mentorship programs are most effective when matches are based on the participants’ unique attributes and skill sets, rather than gender alone.
Encourage the importance of mentorship in helping women take their career to the next level, and provide resources to your female employees who may be interested in finding a mentor outside of the workplace but are unsure of where to start. This will also help you with long-term retention, as employees who feel supported by their company tend to be more loyal.
Take the necessary steps
Women will (hopefully) make up a growing percentage of supply chain and manufacturing professionals over the next 10 years, so there is a great need to offer them equal opportunities at every level, especially in leadership roles.
Taking the steps above will be imperative to building an inclusive workplace and attracting more women to this growing field. By adjusting your entry-level recruitment strategy and fostering an environment that encourages internal talent development, you can work to successfully close the gender gap in supply chain and logistics and ensure that women play an equal role in the future leadership of your workforce.
Tisha Danehl is the vice president of Ajilon, a national professional staffing agency serving the supply chain and logistics industries.