Survey: Women make mixed progress in supply chain roles

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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While women represent a slightly larger share of the supply chain workforce compared to 2020, they are losing progress in executive roles.

According to a new survey from Gartner and women’s supply chain advocacy group Awesome, women comprise 41% of the supply chain workforce in 2021, up from 39% in 2020. Every leadership level saw an increase in representation, except the executive level where there has been a slight decline. In 2021, women account for 15% of executive level roles, down from 17% in 2020.

The Women in Supply Chain Survey 2021 by Gartner and Awesome surveyed 223 supply chain organizations with minimum annual revenue of $100 million from February through March 2021. The findings showed the highest percentage of women in the supply chain workforce since the first edition of the survey in 2016.

The pandemic does not appear to have disrupted supply chain gender equality efforts, according to the survey. Eighty-four percent of responding organizations stated that COVID-19 had no discernible impact on their ability to retain and advance women.

However, 54% of survey respondents said that retaining mid-career women is an increasing challenge. Lack of career opportunities is the top reason that midcareer women left a supply chain organization or provider. The second-most selected option was development opportunities.

In 2021, the proportion of supply chain organizations with any type of goal jumped to 73% from 64% in 2020. Within the subset of respondents (29%) that have stated objectives, 68% said the supply chain organization had a targeted initiative focused on women, a significant step up from 46% in 2020.

“Contrary to other industries, supply chain’s mission-criticality during the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many sectors did not reduce their workforce, but rather continued to hire and even faced talent shortages especially in the product supply chains," said Dana Stiffler, VP analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice. "This resulted in many women not only standing their ground in supply chain organizations but increasing their representation in organizations. We also recorded a record number of specific commitments and supply chain-led actions and saw existing programs starting to pay off."