Diversity in Supply Chain

Diversity in Supply Chain

Diversity in Supply Chain

Ask any executive and there is a good chance they will tell you that they have an active diversity and inclusion policy in their supply chain.  Some will be able to point to supplier diversity programs or provide examples of how they have promoted diversity and inclusion in their workplace.

After all, few would argue that our supply chains should not reflect the diverse nature of the customers that they serve.  Studies show that companies with diverse leadership deliver higher profits and shareholder value.  Yet within our supply chains, it feels like we have a long way to travel.  

Gartner’s recently published Women in Supply Chain Survey 2021, identifies 41% of the total supply chain workforce as women, but only 15% at C suite level.  Almost 70% of 2021’s research respondents identified the lack of career opportunities as the top reason that midcareer women are leaving supply chain.  As regular attendees at supply chain events – physical and more recently virtual – we still regularly see all male panels.  The attendee profile is also often lacking in gender, ethnic, age and cultural diversity.

We are not the diversity and inclusion specialists, but we are privileged to work with many great companies.  In our business, we try to take every opportunity to learn as part of those relationships.  Those that we have seen be most successful in this area, appear to have several common characteristics;

1. Priority around diversity and inclusion is set at the most senior levels of the organisation

2. Objectives are set and targets are measured at all levels of the organisation.  These are supported by HR, but the responsibility of every line manager.

3. Supports are put in place (training, mentoring programs, communities) to support the development of leaders from within.  This stretches to showcasing what success looks like.

4. Inclusion is as important a measure as diversity, to ensure that the benefits of diverse leadership feeds into decisions.  It also ensure that leaders see the company as a place where their skills and perspectives are valued.

5. The diversity and inclusion culture extends to the supplier and partner base, through meaningful engagement and targets

One of the few constants in supply chain is change.  Yet, for many companies, that change is managed by teams that fail to represent the diversity and breadth of the markets that they serve.  There is no one right way to design and execute our global supply chains.  Our perspectives can only be enhanced by embracing more diverse views in a systematic manner.

We continue to learn in this area, and we welcome additional views and learnings from your business on what has been successful.

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