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ASCM Insights

Tackle the Labor Shortage by Putting DEI Goals Into Action


Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is imperative for long-term business success. Time and again, research shows that more perspectives lead to more innovation and more financial success. Further, amidst the acute global labor shortage, DEI can play a significant role in attracting candidates. In fact, Glassdoor reports that 76% of job seekers say workplace diversity is an important factor when they’re sizing up potential employers.

“Ensuring inclusive growth has become a non-negotiable priority for businesses,” Saugata Gupta writes for Forbes India. “Millennials and post-millennials are less tolerant of exclusion, inequality and lack of diversity in the workplace than their predecessors.”

Dionna Smith, global head of DEI at home services website Thumbtack, points out that sticking with remote work is one way for companies to achieve a diverse workforce. For starters, it enables talent to be recruited from outside of their geographic communities. Also, remote work makes it easier to recruit parents and caretakers who need added flexibility, as well as individuals who are differently abled and may be more comfortable working out of their homes.

But these things only help address the D of DEI. As the Forbes article notes, the rest of the acronym requires supporting people after they are hired to ensure they thrive in the workplace. This calls for effective learning and development, leadership, mentorship, employee engagement, recognition, and promotion policies.

Organizations are currently spending $8 billion annually in these areas, and nearly 80% of surveyed companies across industries plan to increase their DEI budgets in the coming year. However, research shows that the products of these efforts are disappointing. Joan C. Williams, director of the University of California’s Center for WorkLife Law, says many businesses focus on having sincere and caring dialogues about the importance of DEI — and that’s where the initiative stops. She notes, “If you had a serious problem with your supply chain, you wouldn’t try to solve it with a heartfelt email.”

The ASCM and Gartner 2021 Supply Chain DEI Survey confirms that few companies translate objectives into real plans. “DEI efforts are particularly vulnerable to statements and goals that are not backed up,” the report states. “Don’t get stranded without action. … Identify and resource specific projects and initiatives that supply chain can drive, lead or influence.”

Be heard

ASCM and Gartner are teaming up again to determine if and how DEI practices have evolved since the 2021 report was released. We want to hear more about what supply chain organizations are doing to advance DEI — and what we could do better. I invite you to take our confidential 10-minute survey to share your opinions and experiences. The survey data will be reported in aggregate form, only identified by industry. As an added bonus, if you provide your email address, you will receive a copy of the report plus half an APICS certification-maintenance point when you view the results. Take the survey here.  

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