Earlier this year, Fortune reported that the number of women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies dropped from 32 — an all-time high — in 2017 to 24 in 2018. That’s a 25 percent decrease over the course of only one year. However, something important happened this week. Beth Ford took the reins as the CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc., one of the nation’s largest food and agricultural cooperatives, and number 216 on the Fortune 500.
Ford had been the company’s chief operating officer, and she replaces Chris Policinski, who retired in June. She brings decades of experience to her new job, including in supply chain. According to her LinkedIn profile, she previously worked as executive vice president and chief supply chain and operations officer at Land O’Lakes, as well as executive vice president and head of supply chain for International Flavors and Fragrances.
The Wall Street Journal reports that one of Ford’s first tasks will be to help the company and its farmers manage the tariffs that Mexico and China have imposed on U.S. dairy products in response to U.S. duties on other goods.
“At a time of unprecedented change in the agriculture and food industries, no person is better suited to lead us into the future than Beth Ford,” said Land O’Lakes Board Chair Peter Kappelman, when he announced her appointment. “Beth has proven she’s not afraid of hard work, and she sees every challenge as an opportunity to deliver more value for our cooperative.”
Recruiting, Retaining and Promoting Women in Supply Chain
As supply chain has emerged as a revenue driver for corporations, so too has the supply chain function grown in importance across the enterprise. Ford’s appointment as CEO of Land O’Lakes coincides with supply chain’s rise as a differentiator for companies’ strategic initiatives.
No matter where you are in your career, this information should be heartening. However, I know from talking to members, partners and others in the APICS community that recruiting and retaining supply chain employees remains a challenge. At APICS, we’ve been working to encourage companies and individuals to turn to an untapped resource for the supply chain workforce — women. Women are still underrepresented at all levels of supply chain.
As part of an ongoing partnership with the Manufacturing Institute, APICS co-sponsors the STEP Ahead Awards, which honor women in manufacturing and supply chain and celebrate their accomplishments so that they can inspire the next generation. Over the past six years, STEP Ahead Awards have honored 802 women. Nominations for the 2019 STEP Ahead Awards are open now a www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/nominate. Consider submitting one of your peers or colleagues who deserve recognition and whose stories can encourage others to follow their lead. The nomination period will close October 5, 2018.
I’d also like to call your attention to the 2019 APICS Board of Directors, who were selected by the 2018 APICS Nominating Committee and accepted by the APICS Board of Directors. The three new board members coming on are all accomplished women in supply chain. I look forward to working with the board to shape the future of APICS and supply chain.