Develop plans that allow women to succeed

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
13 November 2019

Supply chain firms should develop clear plans to overcome barriers to women’s success, according to a report.

The report, by the Global Supply Chain Institute in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, said such plans should include specific goals, mentoring programmes, an exploration of flexible work policies, and they should ensure recruiting and onboarding practices are effective.

The report said a “diverse set of perspectives” brought improvements in innovation and “more able and agile supply chains”.

“The promise of such diversity is to develop supply chains capable of delivering better top and bottom-line results as well as long-term shareholder value,” said the report.

“Waiting to address ways to ensure that women can contribute to success in the supply chain workforce is not an effective strategy – the workforce is already diverse, and getting increasingly more so by the year.

“Understanding how to incorporate cultural change will help leaders and organisations pave the way for broader changes coming in the future and to build organisational muscle memory and strength to improve organisational resilience.”

The report, based on 14 in-depth interviews conducted over several years with young women in the early years of their careers, said supply chain leaders should “ponder the experiences of young women in their own organisations”.

The interviews highlighted barriers to career progression including the “perfection trap”, where women play it safe and don’t take risks for fear of making a mistake, challenges around gaining respect and being valued, and difficulties setting work/life boundaries.

One woman spoke of the challenges of a male-dominated workplace when being interviewed for a promotion alongside a male friend. “My interview was strictly about business, talking about the team and its direction,” she said. “I thought the interview went well, and I know I was well qualified for the position. My friend’s interview was all about golf and weekend sports. He got the job over me.”

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