Today is being recognized globally as International Women’s Day 2022. This Editor thought it appropriate for Supply Chain Matters to share perspectives relative to women in supply chain management and businesses generally.
This year’s theme promotes the message of “break the bias” with the hashtag: #BreakTheBias. The stated goals are a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, one that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive where difference is valued and celebrated.
To begin with, this Editor is obviously male and not exactly one that can inherently speak personally to gender biases that continue to exist in business and supply chain management workplace settings. In this commentary, we share some observations and advice shared from female professionals.
Having served as both a manager and mentor to female employees in my career and having a spouse and two daughters all in professional careers, and reflective of past and existing gender and workforce biases, I can share perspectives and frustrations from a male perspective.
Supply Chain Matters has been provided personal perspectives from female executives and contributors, some of which we wanted to share.
Samina Subedar, Vice of Marketing and Communications at information storage technology provider StorCentric indicates:
“International Women’s Day is a day dedicated to celebrating all women across all diversities around the world. It is a day among many on which I reflect on and appreciate just how far women have come in the technology field. At the same time, I recognize that there remains work to be done to ensure future generations have the support and resources necessary to explore, pursue and grow in these fields. I strive to emulate those that provided opportunities for me to pursue, and now thrive in my career. And I am fortunate to now work in an organization that appreciates the immense value of a diverse workforce.”
“So, this year on International Women’s Day, I encourage everyone to give purposeful thought to how they can actively support a girl’s or woman’s goal of entering a career in technology or their chosen field – whether it is donating your time or from your wallet. And business leaders, I likewise implore you to review your organization’s HR practices – from hiring to programs designed to train and retain the most richly diverse workforce possible. After all, diversity in the workplace isn’t just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing. Bringing diverse people and thereby diverse perspectives into the workplace leads to a greatly enhanced ability to generate ideas and problem solve, which lead to solutions, innovation and business transformation.”
Shelly Harris, Commercial Director at pallet pool provider IPP shared her experiences as she has forged a successful career:
“Having worked at IPP for over ten years and progressing from manager to director, it’s only upon reflection that I can see how far the industry has come in terms of representation. Yet, helping more women reach leadership positions still needs to be a priority.
While the logistics sector is not as male dominated as it once was, in fact 39 percent of women now occupy a full-time supply chain role, according to Gartner statistics, there is progress still to be made. This imbalance in representation isn’t limited to just one sector either, with just 27 percent of director job positions at FTSE250 companies held by women.
Despite this disparity, I’ve always understood the importance of both self-confidence and a go-getting attitude, a mindset which has helped to establish the position I now occupy within IPP. Of course, bias and inequality are hurdles that many women often still face, which is why as individuals and businesses we need to help drive the same choices, freedoms and benefits for all.”
Catherine Qu, Vice President of Growth Marketing at start-up analytics technology provider Imply noted in-part:
“I fully support and agree with this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #BreaktheBias. While it’s human nature to have biases, it’s something I strive to be cognizant of and sensitive to—especially as a minority woman. You will find biases wherever you go, so it’s important to learn how to spot them and overcome them.”
“One way women can accomplish this is by speaking up. For so long, women have relied on the quality of their work to speak for them, but that’s an outdated way of thinking. In today’s world, women need to be forthright, direct and confident talking about their accomplishments and acting as a self advocate. In addition, women should seek champions who believe in them and will speak highly of them to others. Also importantly, women should keep an eye out for each other. If you see a woman trying to speak up in a meeting but being ignored, say something about it and make sure that woman is provided the opportunity to share her thoughts.”
Tania Seary, Founder and CEO of Procurious, has built a social media community platform for procurement and supply chain professionals. In its published blog commentary this week, the BRAVO Leadership Program for Women in Procurement and Supply Chain, a first of its kind network that enables female leaders to get ahead and conquer the inequalities and disadvantages facing women everywhere is being expanded from a pilot in Australia to be expanded concurrently across APAC, EMEA and the United States. The overall theme is “Be Part of Something Bigger” to empower women to be bigger, bolder, take charge of their careers and fulfill their true potential.
Added Editor Perspectives
This Editor has observed firsthand in my career how males within tech and supply chain focused organizations can sometimes tend to take credit for the work and accomplishments of a female either in speech or action. I have further observed in the past where the unstated criteria for hiring a female to a professional position was her good looks in addition to the skills, accomplishments and diversity that a women can bring to organization.
The professional women in my life often remind me about how difficult it is for women who are perceived as being too outspoken in a male dominant organization and that speaking up about one’s parity in individual accomplishments or compensation value is looked upon as being too aggressive or not being a team player. Women are thus patterned to not challenge when feedback could be most helpful.
And then there is the evidence of outright discrimination that frustrates me to no end, either in career progression, availability of mentors or in workforce decisions. Such actions are morally and ethically wrong at all times. Acknowledging biases against women should not be a one-day affair but rather and ongoing action. Internalizing a reality that diversity, equity and inclusiveness among supply chain management organizations and talent recruitment can do better is a further recognition that action is needed.
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