Each March, Women’s History Month honors women’s contributions to history, culture, society and industry. In supply chain, women bring diverse and creative perspectives to the field, but there’s still more to be done to achieve gender equality and fully leverage women’s valuable skills and knowledge.
As in many times throughout history, women are a key part of alleviating worker shortages. For instance, some commercial driving schools are reporting an uptick in female applicants. To continue this momentum, activists advise that the trucking industry take more steps to ensure the safety of female drivers. Some suggestions are to make physically demanding equipment more workable, creating separate shower areas at truck stops, and increasing truck stop overnight security.
Women have been carrying economies over the past couple years, as well. They held one in three essential, frontline jobs at the height of the pandemic. In addition, the number of women working in male-dominated fields such as construction and utilities has recently surged. Women currently make up 26% of the U.S. transportation and warehousing workforce, an 11% increase between December 2019 and December 2021.
However, there continues to be a shortage of women in the manufacturing labor force. In 2017, a study by ASCM, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that 70% of women working in manufacturing would choose the field again if starting their careers today. The research also confirmed that companies could do better by offering flexible work policies, instituting mentorship programs and increasing the visibility of role models.
These points are still relevant today. Since the start of the pandemic, a disproportionate number of women left work to care for family members. Most needed more flexibility, which their jobs could not or would not provide. More than 1 million women still are missing from the workforce.
Be an ally
The supply chain profession must ensure that female role models are front and center. ASCM is proud to have five women on our board of directors, recently profiled by Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Rennie. In addition, remarkable women in supply chain grace the ranks of our Awards of Excellence winners each year.
It’s also critical to take a hard look at your company’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. For the second year in a row, ASCM has participated in the Supply Chain Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Survey with Gartner. We found the salary gap remains for both women and people of color, but it has improved since 2020. Gender pay was observed to be more equitable at public organizations, where women report a median salary 2% higher than men.
On The Rebound podcast, I explored many of these topics extensively with Katy Kay, a New York Times best-selling author and lead anchor for BBC World News America. I also recently had the opportunity to speak with Michelle Dilley, CEO of AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management, and Education). Its mission is to advance and transform the future of supply chain leadership by bringing together senior women leaders. We discussed numerous topics, including the need to prioritize salary equality. I shared with her the exciting news from our Supply Chain Salary Survey and Career Report, which found that the median pay gap between men and women under 40 in supply chain closed. Still, we both agreed that ongoing progress is required.
Each and every one of us can be an ally. Start by learning more about each of these resources and opportunities to celebrate and elevate the women in supply chain.