According to 'The Women in Supply Chain Survey 2021' by Gartner, women now comprise 41 per cent of the supply chain workforce globally in 2021, the highest ever since the first edition of the survey in 2016. Last year, this was 39 per cent. However, 54 per cent of survey respondents said that retaining mid-career women is an increasing challenge.
"Lack of career opportunities is the top reason that mid-career women left a supply chain organisation or provider. The second-most selected option was development opportunities," the survey said.
While the leadership level saw increased representation, the executive level witnessed a slight decline. At the executive level, women account for 15 per cent in 2021, while this was 17 per cent 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, vice president analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice.
"This resulted in many women not only standing their ground in supply chain organisations but increasing their representation in organisations," she added. Interestingly, the pandemic does not seem to have disrupted the supply chain gender equality efforts.
Eighty-four per cent of respondent organisations stated that Covid-19 did not have any discernible impact on their efforts to retain and advance women.
"Supply chain leaders who are serious about their gender equality efforts must create tailored leadership development programmes and explore flexible work policies that cater to the needs of mid-career women," Stiffler said.