Supply Chain Monthly

Gartner/AWESOME 2020 Women in Supply Chain Survey Shows Progress at C-Level

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Written by Dana Stiffler, Vice President of Gartner Researh  and Nancy Nix, Executive Director Emeritus, AWESOME (Achieving Women's Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management, and Education)

As supply chain takes center stage through 2020’s pandemic response, recovery and renewal, we need all the effective and versatile leadership we can get. In this crucible, organizations that effectively attract, retain, engage and promote women—half or more of the professional workforce—will have a material advantage.

Since 2016, Gartner and AWESOME’s annual Women in Supply Chain Survey has highlighted best practices in attraction, development, retention and advancement of women, with a particular focus on advancing women into senior leadership positions. We collect baseline data on how many women are in supply chain organizations overall and at each level of leadership: frontline manager, senior manager, director, vice president and executive levels.

In 2020, the fifth anniversary of this project, our research shows that a clear majority of supply chain organizations (63%) have specific goals to increase the number of women leaders in their ranks, up from 59% in 2019. Pursuit of gender diversity in supply chain organizations is clearly in the mainstream.
We also saw encouraging progress at the C-level: 17% of these executive leaders are women, a marked increase from 9% in 2016. Elsewhere, results showed slight decreases in representation at other levels and sustained strong pipelines in consumer/retail supply chain organizations compared to other sectors. We also reinforced the finding that integrated pipeline planning and management—focusing on specific recruiting, development and progression-focused decision-making forums—is the most significant action CSCOs can take to pull more women into supply chain leadership positions.

The percentage of women reaching the executive level of supply chain is encouraging and in line with other C-level operations roles in consumer and industrial sectors, according to a recent Korn Ferry Study. Similarly, 2019 data from McKinsey & Co. found 21% representation at the C-suite level. So, supply chain organizations are trending in the right direction when it comes to representation of women at the highest levels.

The big question as we look ahead: what effect will the pandemic and its fallout have on these efforts? With lives and livelihoods at stake, this is a pivotal time for many women in mid-level and senior supply chain positions. Careers will be made or broken. Some predict a crushing blow to the gains women have made in the workplace, while others point out the benefits of more flexible ways of working that will outlast the pandemic. What we do know is that supply chain leadership has never been more crucial. We need the best talent available to overcome this crisis and position our organizations for an uncertain future.

Watch the Gartner On-Demand Webinar/2020 Women in Supply Chain Survey today!