Women—along with ethnic minorities, immigrants from various cultures, speakers of different languages and people with disabilities—are predicted to help fill the current supply chain workforce gap between now and 2030, as suggested on page 47 of Roadmap 2.0. Although the majority of the field is male, women now represent 35% of the total supply chain workforce, according to the 2016 Gartner-AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management and Education) Women in Supply Chain Survey.
Both the survey and Roadmap 2.0 recommend better recruitment efforts to expose women to the opportunities within the field, as well as adapting to the desires of the workforce for increased flexibility and a clearly defined career path. In MHI Solutions’ second quarter 2018 issue, four industry leaders—who happen to be female—are profiled in, “Women Rising: Four Supply Chain Leaders Making Their Mark In A Male-Dominated Field.” Each offered insights into tactics companies should be adopting now in order to recruit, retain and advance women within the field.
Shari Altergott, Corporate Director of Marketing and Business Development at Associated, has spent her entire 17-year supply chain career at the company. She says having a mentor like the company’s former president, Mike Romano, was key to her career growth.
“Under his mentorship I started to understand what a substantial impact Associated—and the material handling industry as a whole—have on supply chain. I could not believe how this field that impacts our everyday lives was virtually unknown by the general population,” she explains. “It wasn’t until I understood the industry’s size, breadth, and impact that I truly became passionate about what we do and how we help improve the quality of life of people all around the world.”
Altergott credits Romano with not only teaching her the ins and outs of the industry, but also how to be a leader—skills she further developed by first completing her undergraduate studies and later earning a Master’s of Business Administration from Northern Illinois University while still working full-time at Associated.
Her advice to companies seeking to add more women to their ranks? “Just as it is important for men in leadership positions to mentor more women in this industry, it is equally important for women in leadership positions to mentor men. Ultimately, it is good leaders that will change the face of the industry,” she concludes.
Andrea Curreri, President of Bluff Manufacturing, can recall being “the only estrogen in the room when work sessions were held. Things have changed a little bit, but there’s still not many of us upper level executives of the female form.”
As a result of greater acceptance of—and impact by—women in the field, Curreri is “also seeing a lot more creativity resulting from greater diversity of thought and perspective, and that’s really refreshing. And men are much more open to women’s contributions as well.”
Like many woman in a leadership role, Curreri pairs authority with empathy. “I think many women who rise to higher levels do a very good job of balancing strength and holding people accountable with making changes that are more family-friendly and create a better work-life balance,” she continues. “For example, I implemented paid time off and flex time, and made sure laptops were available to those who want to work from home if they have a sick child.”
Julie Elliot, Co-Owner and Human Resources Manager of Battery Watering Technologies, says one of the most interesting things about supply chain is the diversity and breadth of opportunities within the industry.
“I think the term ‘supply chain career’ is misunderstood by the mass majority. There are so many different jobs in this industry, including customer service, purchasing, accounting, graphic arts, engineering, shipping/receiving, machine operators, production and quality control,” notes Elliott.
“When you break down the job titles and descriptions, it sounds much more interesting and less industrial—which makes it more appealing,” she continues. “As an industry, we need to continue to educate the kids coming out of high school and in college about the job opportunities in our industry in order to attract the best people, regardless of gender or race.”
Lorin Cassidy Wolfe, President and CEO of Acco Material Handling Solutions, has aggressively taken charge of her own career. That allowed her “able to navigate male-dominated fields and excel through performance and results,” she says.
“Having said that, I have also experienced others trying to ‘talk over me’ and gender disparity through unequal pay. Notably, I was told once after I ‘leaned in’ and asked for a promotion for a job I was already doing that I should ‘just put my head down and let my results speak for themselves,’” Wolfe recalls.
Based on her experience, Wolfe offers this advice for women considering a career in supply chain: “First, seek out mentors with varying perspectives in every chapter of your career to champion your growth and provide honest feedback. Second, don’t let your ambition exceed your impact—impact the company as if you have the job you want, never do the minimum in the job you have, and don’t be afraid to ask for the job. Finally, pay it forward by mentoring others and providing guidance.”
To read the entire article and learn more about Altergott, Curreri, Elliot and Wolfe, click here.