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ASCM Insights

A Decision Point for DEI Commitment


The lack of diversity in top corporate echelons has come into sharp focus in recent months. Protests for racial justice and an alarmingly disproportionate number of minorities being brutally struck by the pandemic and ensuing economic slowdown have underscored the issue. Even as the economy begins improving, unemployment rates among people of color are significantly higher than white Americans. Furthermore, the upcoming ASCM 2021 Supply Chain Salary and Career Survey Report includes insights demonstrating that people of color experience a significant salary disparity, even though more of them hold graduate degrees.

This moment is a critical opportunity for supply chain organizations to rethink and revise their hiring practices for the recovery and beyond. To help supply chain organizations better attract, develop and advance people of color, ASCM has partnered with Gartner to develop The Supply Chain Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Survey. Wide-ranging DEI themes were explored, as well as topics specific to race and ethnicity in the workplace.

The survey found that supply chain organizations have twice as many DEI initiatives today than they did in 2019. Large, global supply chain organizations are more likely to prioritize DEI as a business imperative by setting goals and aligning projects and initiatives to reach them. They also benefit from better access to diverse talent and are making strides toward leadership development and succession planning.

Still, minorities represent only 30% of the full-time supply chain workforce in North America and Europe. Furthermore, there’s a steep drop-off in representation in management and leadership, with only 9% of supply chain vice presidents being people of color.

To achieve meaningful DEI improvement, the survey recommends the following strategies:

  • Prioritize DEI as a business imperative. Set goals and ensure they translate to specific projects and initiatives. DEI efforts are acutely vulnerable to statements and objectives not backed up by action.
  • The most successful initiatives are those that are integrated in the recruiting and pipeline-planning processes. Establish diverse interview panels, diversity referral programs, summer internship programs for diverse students, blind resumé reviews and diverse campus recruiting. Redesign hiring, development, performance management and succession planning to reduce bias.
  • Ensure your supply chain organization is prepared to make key advancements and provide complete transparency. There are serious consequences for companies that overpromise and underdeliver.

There’s much to be done

Time and again, research reveals the overwhelming number of benefits that come from a diverse workforce, including heightened innovation, profound transformation and positive financial impact. Yet, with only one-quarter of DEI survey respondents saying they have formal targets in place, the current degree of change is just not getting us where we need to go.

The most successful businesses know that the more people they include, the more successful they will be. The global supply chain community must spotlight these leaders and learn from their examples if we are to achieve genuine DEI progress.

Each year, ASCM celebrates and shares important knowledge from those who are truly putting in the work. The ASCM Award of Excellence — Diversity and Inclusion Champion honors an industry professional who displays exceptional commitment to DEI, fosters professional environments that value individual differences, and inspires people of all profiles and backgrounds to succeed in supply chain careers. ASCM is now seeking nominations for this award, as well as five other notable categories. I hope you will enter or nominate a deserving colleague today.


About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted at

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