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Women in Supply Chain Leadership

Maybe because supply chain got its start with trucks and manufacturing, the industry has traditionally been male dominated. For years, there has been a gender imbalance in the supply chain industry—far more men than women—but now that balance is starting to shift.

While only 10% of the most senior leadership roles in supply chain and operations are currently held by women, that seems sure to change in the near future.  Out of 56 universities polled, their results pointed toward a growing talent pool of female supply chain professionals:

  • 37% of students enrolled in supply chain studies these days are female.
  • 71% of the schools said they expect enrollment to increase over the next five years.
  • 75% reported an increase in enrollment by women over the past five years
  • 29% said this increase was significant.

Women bring unique skill sets to the supply chain industry. According to a recent opinion poll conducted by SCM World among 150 global supply chain practitioners:

  • Both genders (75% of women and 63% of men) believe that the natural skill sets of women differ from men.
  • Both genders (96% of women and 74% of men) also agree that these different skill sets are advantageous for supply chain leadership and performance.

What’s so different about women in the supply chain? Women in leadership often exhibit strong emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, empathy and humility. And these assets lend themselves to relationship management, collaboration and creativity in solving problems—inside the organization and with external customers and suppliers.

As we’ve discussed before, the human element is crucial in supply chain, and supply chain members are wired to be social and collaborative—just as women are.

As supply chain becomes much more than a service function and develops into a key strategic factor in driving and enabling global economies and business growth, these leadership attributes will become even more critical.

If you’re already a woman in the supply chain industry, you’re ahead of the coming “gold rush” of female candidates. But if you feel you’re not advancing to where you should be, try partnering with a staffing expert to have access to the best positions as well as insider information on the industry. At ZDA Supply Chain Recruiting, we can help place both males and females in a supply chain leadership position. And we know which companies are female friendly, which ones could use more female employees, and which ones embrace the flexible, family-friendly schedules that many working women would appreciate. Give us a call anytime you want to discuss your role in the supply chain—and never be afraid to ask us what we can do for you!

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