Why it’s a good time to be a woman in supply chain

Just over one-in-10 chief supply chain officers are women, but “women are in pole position” in terms of careers, says a new report. 

Only 13% of chief supply chain officers (CSCO) in Europe’s 500 biggest companies are women, according to a report by management consultancy firm Heidrick & Struggles.

The report found France had the highest levels of gender diversity among CSCOs in Europe, with 17% of CSCOs being women. This was in comparison to 13% in the UK, and 11% in Germany. 

The report, Supply chain leadership in Europe: Where are the women?, stated these figures show CSCO is the second-least diverse leadership role, coming ahead of chief human resources officer, chief marketing officer, chief legal officer, chief financial officer, and chief information officer. The only leadership role with a lower level of diversity was CEO.

However, author of the report, Heidrick & Struggles principal and member of Global Supply Chain & Operations Officers Practice, Camilla Gilone, said, “It's a good moment to be a woman working in supply chains”, as companies are battling to recruit and headhunt female talent to achieve a better gender split in their workforces.

Gilone told Supply Management: “Female talent is a hot topic today. It is a hot topic in every function, but specifically when it comes to supply chain.

“I think we are in a phase where companies have finally realised how important it is to give space to women, and to give women the possibility to actually grow throughout the organisation and also get to leadership roles in the supply chain, which was not necessarily something recognised in the past.”

Women can afford to be “selective” with the jobs they choose as companies are at “war” to attract and win talent, she said. “After a long time of not being at the centre of attention, women are in pole position. They are constantly being called, getting amazing offers and have the possibility to easily step up and get to the next level in another company with a bigger salary.”

The report indicated firms are struggling to retain mid-career women, which Gilone believes is due to competition among organisations where women are poached with the lure of better job opportunities and salaries. “It's difficult for companies to retain mid-career women at the moment because the competition is so high,” she said. 

Gilone anticipates that even within five years, levels of gender diversity will rise as mid-career women are headhunted and able to progress into leadership roles. 

She continued: “The numbers reflect the past. They’re a good vision of the past difficulties that women came across. That is all true. But now, there is a different approach, and it will definitely bring more results in favour of female talent in the future.”

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