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ASCM Insights

A Sustainable Supply of Talent for Every Industry


I’ve just returned from the GreenBiz sustainability conference, and three things about the event really stood out to me. Most notably, people in the sustainability field are experiencing the same roadblocks that supply chain professionals encountered almost 30 years ago. For instance, there’s a lack of consistency in language, metrics and definitions of key terms, such as ESG and circularity. This, of course, makes it extremely difficult to build accountability and communicate important findings. The misalignment also prevents consumers and the media from properly understanding the industry.

Secondly, the pandemic exposed latent issues related to visibility, transparency and traceability. Proactive supply chain organizations have addressed the visibility issue by identifying all suppliers beyond tier 1; this helps them address disruption vulnerability and pinpoints areas that are unsustainable in the long run. Further, supply chains function most effectively when they have access to accurate, timely and relevant data. This realization has led to a significant investment in technology to gather and analyze that data. Unfortunately, it’s clear that most small- and medium-sized businesses don’t have the technology, talent or resources to provide them with crucial information. At the same time, as we become more digitally enabled, we create compliance and risk-management concerns.

Finally, just as the general public lacked awareness of supply chain pre-COVID, sustainability professionals today suffer from a similar challenge when explaining what they do for a living. We certainly don’t want to wait for a global shock to elucidate the importance of sustainability and the jobs that drive it. Instead, the industry should develop a body of knowledge and curriculum that align with the responsibilities necessary to succeed today and in the future.

Interestingly, Forbes reports this week that — even with the notoriety that the pandemic brought to supply chain — the pipeline for talent is broken. The article notes that supply chain comprises as much as 37% of all jobs, which equates to a staggering 44 million positions. And yet, 64% of companies are experiencing a supply chain talent gap. “The area is so multifaceted and cross-disciplinary that employers are searching for workers who already have project management, vendor management, business process optimization, and — of course — supply chain expertise,” Forbes notes. How could any mere mortal meet that long list of requirements?

Satisfaction in supply chain

Of course, here at ASCM, we know that it’s infinitely possible to help talented individuals grow and succeed with proper investment in upskilling. Further good news? Once people enter supply chain, they tend to be happy and financially well-rewarded. That’s one clear takeaway from last year’s Supply Chain Salary and Career Report. According to the 2023 research, salaries for supply chain professionals continued to rise, with a median income of $98,570, including base and additional compensation, which was up 3% from 2022. Plus, 96% of those surveyed planned to stay in supply chain for at least the next five years.

Now, we need your input for the 2024 report. Help ASCM's crack research team understand how your salary, benefits and career satisfaction compare, and you’ll be among the first to gain access to this year’s data. You’re invited to complete the survey now!

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 through