What impact did Covid have on women in supply chain roles?

27 May 2022

The pandemic “significantly” impacted career opportunities and the rentention of women in supply chains, according to research. 

A survey by Gartner found four in 10 (43%) supply chain leaders said the pandemic had a “negative” impact on the retention and progression of women in supply chain organisations over the past year. 

“This is a significant uptick compared to the 2021 survey, where only 11% said there was a negative impact,” the report said.

In total 39% of total supply chain workers are women, down from 41% in 2021, said the report. 

Women accounted for only 21% of vice president and senior director supply chain roles in 2022 – down from a peak of 28% in 2019.

Gartner said: “Supply chains still continue to have a problem pulling women up to the more senior ranks of the organisation. Talent strategies may be to blame, as many are not designed to pull women up the corporate ladder.”

The research found there was a clear divide between mid and large-size businesses in objectives to drive up women leaders in their supply chains.

Nearly 50% of medium and large organisations (with profits between $100m to $5bn) have no objectives to increase the number of women leaders in their organisations. Meanwhile 83% of the largest organisations (with profits of over $5bn) said they did.

Gartner recommended supply chain teams evaluate and redesign talent strategies to eliminate hidden biases that “systematically prevent women from pushing into higher levels of leadership”.

It found financial implications for women workers remained “largely unaddressed” by supply chain organisations. Only half of businesses surveyed had a targeted initiative focused on closing the gender pay gap or improving benefits for women. 

Caroline Chumakov, senior principal analyst at Gartner Supply Chain, said: “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.

“In today’s hypercompetitive labour market where women are increasingly seeking out pay increases and ethical employers, these data points reveal a hidden attraction and retention risk.” 

Over half of organisations said retaining mid-career women was becoming an “increasing challenge”, with an additional 19% calling it “significant”.

The top reason stated by mid-career women for leaving was lack of career or advancement opportunities, stated by 57% of respondents. 

The fastest-climbing response reported was that women were seeking greater or more competitive compensation – the second most common reason cited by 43% of women – up from 24% in 2021.

A lack of development and opportunity, flexibility and “increased domestic work and care responsibilities” were also among the top reasons. 

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