The supply chain and logistics industry remains an overwhelming male dominated sector. According to Gartner survey analysis, though women account for 50 to 55 percent of the U.S. workforce, only 35 percent of supply chain employees are female.
And of that number, the supply chain management review states that women only represent about 5 percent of leadership and senior level roles in the supply chain and logistics sectors. So what changes are being made to close this disparity gap?
Not only does gender diversity foster a collaborative culture, boost productivity, reputation and social responsibility, but it also helps increase productivity, supports retention and profitability.
Many companies have begun to implement initiatives to improve, attract, development, retain and advance women in the supply chain and logistics industry.
Americold General Manager Laurel O’Donnell said, “Research has shown that gender parity in organizations increases the growth and profitability potential. It has been found that the different perspectives, initiatives and approaches to calculated risks that women bring to organizations increase the consistent earning results.”
Understanding the importance of women representation in the industry lead to developing Women in Supply Chain Americold (WISC), a group that’s dedicated to guiding, empowering and advancing women at Americold through learning and mentoring opportunities.
According to O’Donnell, the group has been a great beacon for attracting more women to the company and industry.
Find out what O’Donnell, the president of WISC Americold, has to say about women representation in the supply chain and logistics industry.
- Why do you think there’s a lack of women representation in this sector? Years ago it used to be a rougher-edged environment. Within the facilities, the work is on equipment, and it can be physically demanding. The bias we have as a society is that women aren’t capable or interested in this kind of work. Equally so as women, we can underestimate the opportunities that starting on the floor or in the office can bring. We sometimes put our skills and knowledge in a much smaller box than the breadth of value it really covers.
- Do you think it’s important for companies to launch initiatives and groups to reach more women in supply chain to close the gap? Definitely. By achieving greater balance between ratios of men and women, companies are able to capitalize on a more collaborative and successful growth potential.
- In your opinion, what types of efforts can be made or are being made to close the gender disparity gap? It is really important that images of real women are shown on the job, in the industry, and in various environments. We need to promote this within our families, in our schools and at our industry events. Again, research has shown us that what we see, we believe and we become. A good example of this was the impact the show "CSI: Criminal Scene Investigation" had on the number of women entering criminology and forensic studies. After seeing women in leadership roles, registration in these programs grew at faster rates compared to that of any other field at the time.
- How did Women in Supply Chain Americold come about and how did you get involved? Americold leadership sponsored attendance to a Women in Leadership conference for 14 of our female leaders in 2015. I had the honor of attending. While there, those of us who attended quickly bonded and we shared a unifying desire to maintain and build upon our connections. While we had all achieved success by reaching our individual positions, it was common to hear how isolated or lonely we had felt along the way. Our leadership was very supportive and in 2016, sponsored the first Americold Business Resource group, which we named the Women in Supply Chain Americold. I was asked to be president, a role I have today and a role I feel very honored and humbled to hold.
- What are the benefits of such initiatives and groups such as WISC Americold? Engagement, connection, networking, guidance, communications and effectiveness. It is so important to provide these resource groups because our lives and organizations are becoming more dynamic and demanding in today’s environment where everything is happening at a faster pace across greater regions and diversities with increasing expectations. If we want to be the best organization possible, we need to offer a broader community and support network to our associates. The WISC resource group is a way to support all of our sites to engage and develop their female team members.
- In your opinion, why is it important to have more representation in our industry? Women are taking more business risks independently as entrepreneurs. We are missing out on their abilities, strategic visions and calculated risk-taking capacity. They are leaders. These are the women we see in social media, in magazines and in the news. If we don’t show that women are an integral part of the fabric of our organizations at all levels, then we will not be seen as an industry of interest.
- How do you create a generation of female leaders in supply chain and logistics? WISC is definitely working to assist in the process of leadership generation. We’ve started with a mentorship and interview series aimed at reducing the boundaries between women across the company. We share our perspectives, our journeys, our visions for the future, what we are excited about and most importantly how to be our best selves for our careers and Americold. At Americold we also have many supportive male colleagues who promote the women within their teams as well as WISC. This collaboration is fantastic and critical to generating the positive growth in female leaders in our industry.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute report, “The Power of Parity” new research suggests that gender parity in organizations may increase economic growth by $28 trillion or a 26% increase in GDP by 2025.