Supply Chain Monthly

CSCMP Opinion – Written by CSCMP Corporate Member Mark McCullough, CEO of Gebrüder Weiss USA

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Addressing the Talent Shortage and Industry Diversity Through Strategic Relationship Building and Education

By Mark McCullough

As the pandemic and mounting frustration over racial and social inequity came to a boil last year, our leadership team began discussing how to address the importance of diversity and the expanding need for skilled workers. As we looked at our core values as an organization, we knew that our commitment to continuing education, sustainability efforts, and global perspective were attractive qualities to our workforce. However, we knew we had to do more to increase diversity in our offices and warehouses and strengthen our upskilling programs to help our employees grow.

Having started at the bottom in the logistics industry at the start of my career, I understood the value of on-the-job training and the ability to move up within an organization. Millennials and Gen Z'ers may have a reputation for job-hopping. However, my observations are that if you provide a workplace that encourages learning, flexibility, and the ability to earn more money while having new experiences, people tend to stick around – no matter their generation affiliation. Still, the events of 2020 changed the world. We had to take action to change with it.

Our first major initiative addressed industry diversity. Our words and initiatives are only as strong as our actions. Gebrüder Weiss didn't want to be one of those companies making a statement and calling it a day. We wanted to do something to make a difference. After some discussion, we decided the best way to encourage diversity was to embrace education. We researched the leading logistics programs in the country and nearby our office locations and started a conversation with their department heads on how we could work together to create a meaningful diversity initiative. Then we established a Gebrüder Weiss USA leadership scholarship program and pledged funds to each of these top universities to help encourage diversity and ease financial burdens for students studying logistics. The universities awarding the scholarships include Loyola University Chicago, Quinlan School of Business; Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, Rutgers Business School; and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), School of Information and Decision Sciences.

Each university now has a scholarship program that is specific to its student body. Additionally, we worked with each of the schools to develop the criteria for the scholarship funds. Each year through 2024, Rutgers will select two students studying supply chain as recipients of the scholarship. The fund supports the goal of increasing diversity by assisting underrepresented-minority students who are in the Rutgers School of Business.

At UIC, Gebrüder Weiss developed a similar program with a pledge over five years that benefits the Department of Information and Decision Sciences in the College of Business Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The scholarship will be awarded to two or more undergraduate and graduate students. Preference will be given to students that would contribute to the diversity of the student body and studying in any of the supply chain programs. Students will be selected this fall to receive the scholarship for the 2021–22 academic year.

The initial Gebrüder Weiss Supply Chain Leadership Scholarships at Loyola University Chicago awarded four scholarships to candidates pursuing an undergraduate degree in Supply Chain Management. Two of the scholarships were earmarked for women, and two scholarships were reserved for black, indigenous people of color and students from under-resourced communities. After the success of awarding the Loyola scholarships in the spring of 2021, we committed to providing an additional $25,000 in scholarships over the next five years with a preference for students who are the first in their family to attend college or are involved with organizations that promote women in business, or if they have a financial need or academic merit.

In addition to the scholarships, Gebrüder Weiss provides students an opportunity to apply for full-time, 90-day, paid internships to gain hands-on experience and learn all aspects of the logistics industry at the Gebrüder Weiss US headquarters in Des Plaines, IL, or at its New Jersey location. As CEO of Gebrüder Weiss USA, I also have joined the business council at UIC to consult on logistics education, guest lecture in classrooms, and participate in research initiatives. To broaden our impact and exposure, our COO, Daniela Hendricks, has participated in several panel discussions on Women in Logistics.

The impact of our initiative is yet to be determined, but the response to the opportunity from both educators and students has been very positive. Scholarship recipient Isabella Campuzano Saltos stated, "As an aspiring Loyola University Chicago student at the Quinlan School of Business, pursuing a BBA in Supply Chain Management, I am incredibly grateful for the scholarship that Gebrüder Weiss has provided to me. This type of financial support enables me to focus on my academic pursuits with the hope of making a difference as a future Supply Chain professional."

We look forward to continuing our scholarship program for the next several years and to expanding efforts to help employees upskill and provide opportunities to grow with a company that values people.

Photo Caption: Mark McCullough, CEO of Gebrüder Weiss USA, announced a new scholarship for undergraduate students studying supply chain management. The "Gebrüder Weiss Supply Chain Leadership Scholarship" is part of an initiative for the company, headquartered in Des Plaines, IL (Chicago), to support the growth of a more dynamic and diverse workforce in the field of logistics.