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ASCM Insights

Episode 54: The 2023 ASCM Salary Survey: Diversity, Inclusion and Closing the Pay Gap

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Bob Trebilcock: Welcome to The Rebound, where we'll explore the issues facing supply chain managers as our industry gets back up and running in a post-COVID world. This podcast is hosted by Abe Eshkenazi, CEO of the Association for Supply Chain management, and Bob Trebilcock, editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. Remember that Abe and Bob welcome your comments. Now, to today's episode.

Bob: Well, hello, and welcome to today's episode of The Rebound. The 2023 ACM salary survey, diversity, inclusion, and closing the pay gap. I'm Bob Trebilcock.

Abe Eshkenazi: I'm Abe Eshkenazi.

Bob: Joining us today are Amy Augustine and Lisa Veneziano. Amy is the senior director of the network supply chain at U.S. Cellular. Lisa is the chair of the ASCM's board of directors, and for 35 years, she was a supply chain leader at GM, including executive director of global supply chain warehousing and logistics. Amy, Lisa. welcome.

Lisa Veneziano: Well, hello to you both, and thank you for the invite on such an important topic.

Amy Augustine: Yes. Hi, everyone, and thanks for the invite.

Bob: Well, thank you, and we're really great to have you here to chat about the salary survey. Abe, first, it's great to be back. We had a little hiatus, but we're back in the saddle again, as they say. This is the second time you and I've done an episode on the annual salary survey. This year's results reinforce the notion that now is perhaps the best time ever to be in this supply chain profession. Now, we're not going to cover the whole survey today.

As a listener, you can find it on ascm.org, but before we talk to Amy and Lisa, Abe, can you walk us through the highlights? What really stood out most to you?

Abe: Thanks, Bob, and again, as you indicated, it's a fairly deep report. Let's just cover some of the highlights that we're seeing out of that, that really do speak to supply chain professionals. Not only the organizations, but the industry as a whole. First, salaries are extremely competitive. I think this is a great recognition of the value that supply chain professionals bring to their organizations. We're seeing median salaries over $95,000 and this is a significant contribution these individuals are making to their organizations.

Secondly, job seekers, individuals that are looking for employment, whether they're in a job today, or they're coming out of school, they're finding jobs in less than three months, and competitive employment, as well. That bodes well, not only for today, but for those graduating seniors coming out of school and looking for opportunities within the supply chain field. I think we also have to add that job satisfaction for these individuals is extremely high.

Almost 96% of professionals indicate that they plan to stay in field for the next five years. Given the turnover that we've had in a lot of the industries, I think that's an extraordinary percentage of individuals that are committed to their organizations. I think that also is a great statement about the organization's investment in their talent, especially organizations where individuals are willing to stay, that means that the organizations are doing the right thing for their careers.

A couple of other data points that we saw. First, the salary gap for women continues to narrow for those individuals entering the workforce. Women under the age of 29, for the second year in a row, are out-earning their male counterparts. However, the pay gap inverts the longer the women stay in the industry, and a couple of reasons for that. Number one, oftentimes, they're starting at a lower base, but also, they may not be given the same opportunities as men in their particular organizations.

Then lastly, I think we need to identify that our certifications, specifically ASCM APICS certifications, pay off significantly. Those certified individuals reported a 27% higher salary. Truly a recognition of their contribution to developing sustainable businesses for their organizations. We're really happy with the results. There's a lot of work to do within our DE&I for our industry, but we're really happy about some of the progress that we've made, but there's a lot more work to do.

Bob: Abe, to that very last point you made, about certifications. At Supply Chain Management Review and Peerless Media, we do annual salary surveys as well. One of the things that has consistently come up in our survey was the value of certification. I mean, I think reinforcing that point was really a great thing. Amy, Lisa, we want to bring you into the conversation. Abe just mentioned that there's a lot of interesting detail regarding diversity in the survey, he went back over the pay gap closing for women starting their careers.

I attend a lot of supply chain conferences, and have for years. One of the things I've been noticing more and more is the number of women leaders who are speakers and attendees, as well as people of color, we're just seeing more diversity there on the presentation stand, which is a great thing to see, and more and more in terms of just looking at the name tags walking around the conferences. Can the two of you compare what you're seeing today in our profession, compared to when you began your careers? Lisa, why don't you start?

Lisa: Sure, I'll get us started. Now, remember, I started my career quite a few years ago, 35-plus years ago. At the time, there were no formal supply chain degrees, even, or supply chain-focused conferences like we see today, let alone women speakers, and attendees. Regarding conferences in general, and a very male-dominated profession, like supply chain and industry, as I was in the automotive industry, to be selected or included to attend a conference of any type was certainly the exception.

To have a woman speaker was extremely rare. For me, it's been great to see the evolution for supply chain in general, and especially for women in supply chain. Now, there are many conferences for both, and I'll tell you that for those that don't have a diverse slate of speakers and panels, many individuals are choosing just not to attend them and support only those that do. I would say still progress needed, but it's come a long way.

Bob: Amy, you may not have been around 35 years, but I've known you for at least 10.You've got a perspective here as well. How is our profession evolving, as you've seen it?

Amy: It definitely is evolving, especially when you look at conferences and who attends them. As someone who recently has been speaking at quite a few conferences, I'm also getting asked to speak at additional conferences, and some of these conferences, I've never even heard of, but they're supply chain. I think in the past, they have been very male-dominated.

I think there is this big push that people understand about having a diverse slate of speakers and diverse attendees at a conference, just makes that conference or that event that more attractive to people in the industry to attend. I'm much more likely to attend a conference that I know that there's a diverse set of speakers versus just everyone all look the same, and all talking about the same topic.

I think I've definitely seen, over the past few years, a bigger push to get more of a diverse slate at supply chain conferences, talking about the different areas, and why diversity is even important. I know ASCM has done a really nice job of having that as a topic in some of their past conferences, of-- What does DE&I mean, in the sense of supply chain?

Abe: Another question for both of you, you're talking about what individuals are looking for, in terms of not only speakers, but in terms of other individuals that look like them, specifically role models or mentors within the industry. We indicated that the pay gap is inverted today, for women entering the workforce, but it gets significantly worse, the longer they stay within the workforce.

Give me a sense of what can be done to equalize the salaries, or even the opportunities for women to get into senior leadership. How do you position yourself, and what does the organization need to do to help you along in your career?

Lisa: I can start on that one again. On the pay gap-- let's face it, senior staff has the greatest influence and control over both promotions and pay. I see that an important area here is for businesses to provide leadership development opportunities. That's so more women are prepared to move into those higher leadership positions, and this can help increase gender balance among the senior leader team, making sure that there is a voice at the table when it comes to those salary levels.

Without that voice, oftentimes, different decisions are made. To that point, in addition to support, a true change in behaviors. I'm a very big proponent of unconscious bias training. Unconscious bias, we all have it, and it can cause unintentional decisions to be made around pay scales, as well as the candidate selection and promotion. Training can really make a difference here, and then the final piece around this, in my mind, is the metrics.

Metrics that track salaries by gender at all levels in the company, including the senior leadership positions. Metrics are just so important for ensuring that accountability, and that the expected and needed results are being realized. Leadership development opportunities, unconscious bias training, and metrics that track salaries by gender, I think will make a big difference here.

Abe: Amy, maybe you can add a little bit more to this, not only from the organization's perspective, but from your perspective, did you have to position yourself, or did you have to take any proactive measures? A number of years ago, we had Katty Kay talk about the confidence and what women need to do to put themselves in the position for success. Give me a sense, from your experience, of how that's translated.

Amy: Absolutely. Abe, you have to toot your own horn. I was just recently on a panel for supply chain women, and we talked about this. It's really about how you advocate for yourself. If you don't speak up and be your best advocate, no one else is going to. How do you make sure that senior leadership understands what you're working on, and what you're delivering, and what you're doing for the company to move the bar forward.

Making sure that you're getting those opportunities, to get in front of senior leadership, to talk about what you've done. Also, I think mentoring is a huge part of this, actually, mentoring and sponsorship. Finding those mentors to help you develop the skills that you need to climb the corporate ladder, but then find that person who's going to sponsor you for that senior leadership role. Then, when it comes available, is speaking on your behalf and advocating that you're the right person for the role.

Bob: When we talk about diversity and inclusion, this is going to sound like one of those ‘duh’ questions, but it presumes that you have diverse candidates to hire from. I wondered, Lisa, when you were at GM, Amy as the supply chain leader at U.S, Cellular, do you, or did you, have strategies for recruiting and hiring diverse candidates? If so, can you give us a couple of examples of what your organizations were doing to reach out to otherwise underserved communities?

Lisa: Definitely much-needed strategy in this area. You can't just assume that you're going to get the candidate slate that you need or want. An effective strategy that we employed at General Motors was to utilize diverse recruiting teams, and we found that they really do two things. One, they show potential candidates that they can see themselves in your company, and proof that you have a great career opportunity, or career opportunities, for diverse candidates.

Two, it can ensure a more balanced approach to candidate selections, making it less likely to allow that gender bias or any other bias to influence the candidate selection decisions. Something else, informally, that my HR partner and I started was to set up touch points with the new female hire groups every quarter, for their first year of employment. We found this to be very effective. It was just an informal check-in to get their feedback on what was going well, and more importantly, what was not going so well.

We could adjust for them as well as for the new hires coming behind them. Some other things that we did were group interviews with not only gender diversity, but cross-functional representation. It was also a great way to ensure objectivity in the hiring process. Amy mentioned that mentors-- In this area, mentors were important as well, from day one, just to provide a safe way to help guide new hires and give a safe way for them to ask what they might think is dumb or dumb questions, even though you say no question is dumb.

New hires coming into the organization often feel uncomfortable asking those of their leader. A mentor can be really valuable in this case. A lot of initiatives around this area. I thought I'd highlight those.

Bob: Lisa, before we go to Amy, just one real quick question. When you talked about diverse recruiting teams, did it change where you were recruiting from?

Lisa: That was actually an initiative on its own at General Motors. We took a look at the organizations that we were recruiting, at the universities, schools, and whatnot, and realized that they were not providing us with the candidate pool that we were looking for. Absolutely, we changed the slate of universities that we were recruiting from, to make a big difference in that area as well. If you don't look at these things and you don't intentionally look at it from a data perspective, you don't realize it.

Again, I bring up the unconscious bias factor. We all make decisions and look at things differently than sometimes we realize.

Bob: Amy, what about you, at US Cellular?

Amy: I would just add to what Lisa said, because we have a lot of the same type of programs here in our talent acquisition, but as a hiring manager, I'm always asking my TA partners to make sure that I have a diverse slate of candidates, and if they are having issues sourcing for a particular role, I will even go to my own network to see if I can find my own diverse candidate, or through somebody else that I know, and really try to get the word out of what I'm looking for, and how this fits in on my team.

I think it's okay to work as a partner with your TA to find those candidates. I remember a couple of years ago, I was interviewing for a summer intern. I couldn't tell you one candidate from the next one. They all were the same to me. I pushed really hard, my TA group came through with me, with a diverse slate of candidates, and ended up hiring the young lady, actually, after her intern, as a full-time employee. You have to ask the hard questions. You have to be a partner and really help finding that diverse slate for your interviews.

Abe: Amy, Lisa, one of the other things that we saw out of the salary report was that, not in gender, but in regards to people of color, perhaps we're not making as much progress as we'd like. There has been some movement forward. However, when we take a look at it, the pay gap is significant for people of color versus their white male, or white counterparts. One of the indicators was the size of the organization that public companies tend to do a better job, as we gain more visibility and transparency in our supply chains.

From your perspective, you've both worked for large organizations, how do you help your partners, and how do you help your organization become aware of the opportunity for people of color, specifically on hiring in a very diverse marketplace, as Bob was pointing out before?

Lisa: Amy, you want to start with that one?

Amy: I think, Abe, it goes back to working with your talent acquisition team. I know here at US Cellular, we have a DE&I scorecard, so I'm actually scored as a leader, how diverse the makeup of my team is. I think the more companies talk about, that have implemented things like this, and can help others see why it's important that there's equity across gender and diversity in the pay scale, why that's important--

I think the more we are openly talking about it, the more we can affect changes in companies that maybe aren't as far along in their journey as the one that I work for.

Lisa: My feedback is very similar to Amy's, along that regard. I think metrics are extremely important in this area, because if you don't measure it, you're never going to know where you started, or what progress you're making. I found that with public versus private companies as well, being involved in both, the best way to make sure that you make the progress that you need is to put those metrics in place.

Make sure there's good transparency and visibility to them, and then keep checking back to make sure that the initiatives that you do put in place are having the right impact that you're expecting or needing.

Bob: Lisa, you just mentioned something that Abe hit on a moment ago, which is that in this year's survey, and last year's survey, we found that pay was more equitable at public companies versus private companies. You both worked for publicly traded companies. Do you have a sense of why that's the case? Then, second, do any ideas on how women or people of color at private companies can leverage this learning?

Lisa: Bob, after being part of both a large public corporation and now a small private business, because my husband and I have started our own business, a big takeaway for me is that smaller private organizations often just don't take the same approach, in terms of structure around metrics and standardized processes, not only driving DE&I, but really anything operational, for that matter.

I think a common mindset, in especially smaller private organizations, is that we're too small to put effort into these areas and that they only really apply to big companies. I would say that the transparency that public companies have versus private is certainly a factor here as well. I found through experience that-- I'll just go back to what I had mentioned, metrics are what create accountability to drive actions, and confirm that those actions are actually working.

That's regardless of the size or type of company. It's just really key for anything, let alone the DE&I metrics. One of my sayings is that good intentions don't drive results. Baselining where you started, in terms of the pay equity and the other diversity metrics, and then measuring where you are versus where you want to go, is key for making progress.

Amy: Bob, just building on what Lisa said there, here at US Cellular, we go out and look at salaries. I know our HR team does this. I think if it's not yearly, it's bi-yearly, we have salary bands, they're very deliberate, and they've put a lot of work into the salary and pay scale here. Just building on what Lisa said, a lot of smaller, privately held companies, don't have the money, the time.

They don't think the benefit is worth doing that, when it really is. I think for the future, is how do you show privately held companies the benefit of equal pay for DE&I?

Bob: Amy, I'd like to ask you one follow-up, and then we'll turn it over to Abe, to take us out. One of the things that we've heard has been a driver for DEI, and then also sustainability, which it isn't really a salary survey thing, is-- Larger companies, like, say, GM, going to their suppliers and saying, "On this request for quotation, also tell us what you're doing around diversity, around this, around that."

I just wondered, as US Cellular, you're a supplier to many places. Are you being driven by your customers to report on your efforts in these areas?

Amy: I would say, as of right now, I don't think I've seen a whole lot of it, because if you really think about us-- If we supply stuff, we're supplying cell phones and service. I haven't heard where we're being asked for information, when contracts are being processed for that, but it's not to say that it won't happen in the future.

Abe: Thanks, Lisa, Amy. We are going to get a little bit personal with you and ask you to look at your own careers. As I indicated in the salary report, satisfaction is extraordinarily high. 96% of the individuals indicate they're going to stay in the field for the next five years, and almost 85% take pride in their work. Extraordinarily high numbers. When you think of your own careers, and you look back on it, what are you most proud of, in terms of what you've accomplished or what you hope to accomplish through your current job? Lisa, let me start with you.

Lisa: I think that's an interesting but great question. When I think about that, one accomplishment just jumps to the top. Actually, it's not specific to supply chain, but it's the one I'd like to share, because community support and involvement was something that I prioritized throughout my career. In addition to the direct supply chain work, I was very involved in supporting the charities that General Motors sponsored, especially when I moved into the higher-leadership roles.

When a colleague of mine asked me to informally help with the safe house domestic violence victims in Flint, Michigan, I didn't hesitate. Frankly, the more I got involved, the more I saw the need, locally and nationally, for this type of organization, and we wanted to do more. My colleague and I put together a proposal for our senior leadership team, which I was not yet part of, since I was a director at the time this took place.

What we wanted to do was to add this to the short list of charities that General Motors Customer Care and Aftersales formally supported, because there were only certain ones that we were allowed to formally engage the workforce in, for support and for fundraising. We delivered our pitch to the senior leadership team at the time, not really thinking that we had a chance to get it added, because what we were competing against were the likes of United Way, UNCF, American Cancer Society, et cetera.

It was a short list, but we did it. We actually got approval on the spot to add domestic violence safe houses to the organizations we formally supported. It's such a huge accomplishment, since it meant that they would get consistent, much-needed support all year long. Typically, it was just individuals providing support, hit or miss. This meant that there would be support coming from General Motors consistently throughout the year.

I'm happy to say that 11 years later, the strong support from GMCCA continues. Definitely one of my proudest moments in my 35-year career.

Abe: Very cool. Amy?

Amy: I think for me, Abe, is seeing folks that work for me and work for our teams underneath me being promoted and developed, and seeing them grow in their careers. I can't tell you how much joy I get when I'm able to go tell somebody, "Hey, congratulations. You've just been promoted to a senior manager." Being able to see how they react, how they step in, and also pay it forward on developing their teams and making them the next future batch of leaders in supply chain.

What makes this industry run is, yes, it's the people doing the work, but I also think it's us, as leaders, making sure we're developing the next crop of leaders to step in our shoes, that we can continue the great work that we do in supply chain.

Abe: Amy, you set me up for the last question perfectly, and that is-- As you started your career, you obviously got a lot of great advice, you got a lot of insight. What advice do you have for somebody starting out their careers? What do you wish somebody would have told you about their career in supply chain, as you were starting out? Give me a sense of it. Let's go with you, Amy.

Amy: Okay. I have a couple pieces of advice. The first thing is being able to negotiate, and you should negotiate for your salaries. I was never told that. I'll share a funny story. I actually was mentoring our summer intern last year, and that was one of the pieces of advice I gave her. I was so proud at the end of the summer, she negotiated with me for her job offer. When I think of things happening, we're seeing women entering the supply chain world, and their salaries are beating their male counterparts--

It's because they're negotiating, and they have people like myself telling them to negotiate. I wish somebody would have told me that, way back when when I was starting out. Number two, don't be afraid to take a risk and try something different, and to move around in the supply chain world. I actually wish when I was younger, I would have moved around supply chain roles a little bit more.

I did that a little bit later in my career, which it's not the most horrible thing, but I wish I would have done it when I was younger, to learn about the different areas of supply chain.

Abe Extraordinary, really positive steps forward. Lisa, give me a sense.

Lisa: I'm similar to what Amy said there, in her last piece. My top advice is to zigzag your career. By zigzag, I mean gain as many experiences as possible, and do it as early on in your career as possible. With each different role, you're going to learn more about the business, you're going to expand your network, you're going to open the door wider for more opportunities to come your way.

I think too many times, early in our careers, we just want to move up as quickly as possible and take that next promotion, regardless of what it is, or sometimes we just don't want to move out of our comfort zone, not realizing how limiting a straight line path can be. This broader experience base will enable you to make better decisions, more well-informed decisions. It's just a big factor for climbing into higher leadership roles later in your career, I think, because of that broader experience base.

I know it absolutely was for me. I would not have even been considered for my last position with General Motors, had I not had the experiences that I chose to do early on in my career. My advice is to seek out those cross-functional moves, do it early. Many hands-on jobs, where you learn the most, aren't an option once you move up the ladder. That's, again, why you need to take action early.

It's just a great way to determine what you enjoy or you're really good at, because otherwise, you may never discover that, because you weren't exposed to it. No doubt it can be quite challenging, but I promise that it will pay off in the long run.

Abe: Really great advice, Lisa and Amy, from two extraordinarily accomplished professionals. I also want to thank you both for being on our board of directors. It really does set the tone for this organization, not only today, but engaging individuals into the future, into the supply chain career. That is all the time that we have today. A special thanks to our guests, Amy and Lisa, for joining us today.

Finally, a special thanks to you, for joining us on this episode of The Rebound. We hope you'll be back for our next episode. For The Rebound, I'm Abe Eshkenazi.

Bob: I'm Bob Trebilcock.

Abe: All the best, everybody. Thank you.

Bob: The Rebound is a joint production of the Association for Supply Chain Management and Supply Chain Management Review. For more information, be sure to visit ascm.org and scmr.com. We hope you'll join us again.

 

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