This is a contributed op-ed written by Gina Govojdean, metal flow path manager at Howmet Aerospace and a member of the Institute for Supply Management 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Stars for 2020. Opinions are the author's own.
Less than a decade ago, many companies were only beginning to recognize supply chain as a competitive advantage. Fast forward to today, amid a global pandemic, and supply chain agility is a deciding factor in the ability of many companies to survive.
Supply chain professionals are under more pressure than ever to deliver. Recruiting and maintaining agile, knowledgeable supply chain standouts can directly impact the bottom line — and there’s a way to do so without any direct cost: organizational equity.
It is difficult to maintain and cultivate talent that has ambition and the requisite company and industry knowledge. It is not enough to simply let supply chain stars shine. For some, continuous promotions in the same job function may not fully develop talent and may not maintain it either. Engagement and exposure are important for helping talent reach full potential.
In the eight years I have been with one corporation, I have held seven discrete roles. I have been allowed and encouraged to take on stretch roles where I can sign up for a challenge and have leaders take a chance on me, based on the organizational equity I have cultivated.
Organizational equity is a way to quantify the loyalty an employee has to the employer and the sponsorship the employee receives. It is a simple concept: Give rising talent the opportunity to interact with higher-level leaders who will take interest in their abilities and work and seek to support their growth. Let supply chain standouts grow and sign up for stretch assignments; allow them to demonstrate agility.
The great thing about organizational equity is that, once it is developed, it becomes self-sustaining by the individual and organization. Once supply chain talent is provided with the runway to perform and the platform to be noticed, any high performer has what they need to make an impact on the organization.
Support talent achievement
Organizational equity is the key to any supply chain recruiting strategy — and will not cause a hit to the profit and loss statement. But it’s difficult to highlight in the text of a job posting, though not impossible.
If a business has a structured human resources process that insists on more vanilla job postings, the concept of organizational equity must be sold in the interview process. Highlight the exposure to leadership a specific role will have. Talk about the mentoring programs in place. Share the type of branding opportunities that exist for young talent. These things don’t stop at the interview — they only begin.
Organizational equity is not something that can be offered in the form of a “lump sum” payment. It is not established on day one and will take time to mature. And it is just as important in challenging times as it is in successes.
In 2020, I was named to the Institute for Supply Management’s 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Stars. This award was the catalyst to an organizational response directly driven by my organizational equity. Leaders and mentors across the organization reached out to tell me how proud they were of this accomplishment. Executive leaders in my business unit forwarded the news to others in my immediate team. It was the perfect reminder of the level of sponsorship I have from leaders in my company who want to see me succeed.
" Let supply chain standouts grow and sign up for stretch assignments; allow them to demonstrate agility."
On the other hand, when I am weighing pursuing a new role internally and want to understand the impact a role may have on my perception or branding across the organization, there are executives I can reach out to who will pause to take my call. This is how organizational equity is built, and it is what keeps me from scoping out external job postings — and it doesn't cost my company a dime.
Giving this up and pursuing a job with another employer would require knowing that another company has things in place that will help be build this same level of organizational equity in time. And this seems to be missing from any supply chain job postings I come across.
Which companies excel at organizational equity?
In a review of past years of the Institute for Supply Management’s 30 Under 30 winners, clear signs emerge of companies who embrace and excel at practicing principles of organizational equity. Nominators are often employed at companies where candidates work or may be prior managers or mentors.
Several companies have started a legacy of 30 Under 30 winners. Impressively, out of 180 winners, 15% come from three companies: Northrop Grumman Corporation, United States Steel Corporation and Royal Dutch Shell PLC.
Five companies (technically four companies and one independent agency of the executive branch of the United States) secure bragging rights for having supply chain stars shine in five out of six years of the program: DuPont de Nemours, Johnson & Johnson, Northrop Grumman, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and the United States Postal Service.
"Organizational equity is not something that can be offered in the form of a 'lump sum' payment. It is not established on day one and will take time to mature."
Of companies that consistently appear under the names of winners on this elite list, US Steel Corporation and the USPS are the only two that sustained their streak in 2019, becoming the only two entities with a constellation of winners for the most recent four years of the program.
These trends show that these companies have likely already recognized the value of organizational equity and encourage leaders to nominate and support their stars. These companies will see a return on their investment in the form of the gravitational pull this reputation will have on attracting supply chain talent.