Building A Supply Chain Where Women Thrive
In my role as Vice President of Human Resources at CHEP, I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of women in the workplace every day. But especially this week when we celebrated International Women’s Day, it’s a perfect time to remember just how far women have come in the fight for equity – and what we can do to continue moving forward.
In taking a closer look at the supply chain: Gartner’s 2020 Women in Supply Chain Survey reports that among 177 chief supply chain officers (CSCOs), 17% are women. This is a 6% increase compared to 2019 and the highest rate since the survey started in 2016. And yet, that’s only 1 in 5 C-suite supply chain executives.
So why is it critical that we encourage women to pursue a career in supply chain? And what can we do to close that gap?
Why we excel in supply chain
Although working in the supply chain is a viable, rewarding career, women historically haven’t pursued this avenue. In my case, I actually found my passion for the supply chain while working as an HR professional for Target.
Interested in learning about every aspect of the business, I took the opportunity to shadow an overnight shift with supply chain logistics team members. My goal was to better understand the intricacy of the supply chain driving business results to best determine how HR could support them – and ended up learning more than I could’ve imagined. Seeing just how precise the operation is, the level of planning required to move product from the warehouse to the shelf, gave me a newfound appreciation for the supply chain. It was a lesson I also took into my next position at GE, supporting GE Healthcare’s global supply chain.
What I found in both roles is how truly rewarding working in this space can be: it’s an exciting, fast-moving and quickly shifting industry where delivering results is key. You must be adaptable to change and have the ability to quickly make decisions– which women do well. We excel in collaborative environments, highlighting our agility to work in this ever-changing industry.
How CHEP is driving conversations around equity
In my current position, I have the honor to work alongside CHEP North America President Laura Nador, who’s a prime example of a woman leading the way. She’s collaborative, creative, a problem-solver who’s skilled at not only connecting teams internally but also connecting with our customers. Laura is so good at what she does that she was recognized as one of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Most Admired CEOs in 2020.
Under her leadership, CHEP implemented several initiatives aimed at gender equity. What we have established is more than a diversity and inclusion program – it’s a philosophical shift aimed at continually enhancing company culture. In fact, one of our 2020 goals was to have 30% of our management roles filled by females, which we surpassed at 31.8%. We’re well on our way to having women fill 40% of the company’s leadership roles by 2025.
So how will we get there? Let me share some insights on what we are up to. CHEP has created and invested in a program to get young women excited about potential careers in the supply chain before they even graduate from high school. Each summer, we invite 9th through 12th graders to participate in CHEP’s high school mentorship program, during which students are exposed to different aspects of supply chain management. We believe engaging young women early creates exposure, awareness, and excitement, and develops a talent pipeline of future supply chain leaders.
As part of our talent acquisition strategy, our CHEP supply chain teams attend college recruitment events, so they can share their experiences and build a talent pipeline for a more inclusive and diverse workforce. Further, our Global Graduate Development program seeks diverse students graduating from universities that have a rigorous supply chain curriculum.
In addition to our mentorship and recruitment efforts, CHEP, as part of our inclusion and diversity roadmap, established an employee resource group for women, dedicated to creating gender balance and success for women throughout the organization. Our ERGs play an integral part in the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives aimed at providing opportunities for deeper understanding and belonging for all – both within our organization and local communities.
CHEP goes beyond our internal ability to influence gender equity by extending our reach through our supplier diversity program. Most recently, a female-owned and operated partner has benefited from these efforts and become a top provider for CHEP.
When we achieve equity, we all succeed
Any organization, supply chain, or other industry, can benefit from a culture of inclusion where women are empowered to be leaders – to be their best and most authentic selves. Organizations can benefit financially, too. McKinsey research shows that gender-diverse companies are nearly 50% more likely to outperform their profitability goals than less gender-diverse companies.
What’s important, perhaps now more than ever, is to create an environment where ALL employees, regardless of gender, are successful and feel great about their individual experiences. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating all that we’ve accomplished at CHEP and commit to collaborating with me to continue making significant strides toward gender equity.