Women in Supply Chain (and Why Men Should Care)

August 23, 2017

Supply Chain Briefing

Whether you’re a man or woman, if you are in the end-to-end supply chain, you should be thinking about women in supply chain. We’re facing a serious skills gap in the next several years in manufacturing and supply chain circles. Although women make up 47% of the labor force, they compose only 27% of the manufacturing workforce. Thus, logic dictates that if we can raise that percentage, we’ll cover much of our skills gap!

I spoke on “Women in Supply Chain” at the western district conference for APICS (#1 supply chain management association) this weekend. I also am a mentor for Women in Supply Chain at the Drucker School of Management. Since I have been the sole woman in a leadership role in manufacturing circles frequently throughout my career, I don’t even notice it. However, we should pay attention.

Women in Supply Chain

Talking about “Women in Supply Chain” at the Western District Conference for APICS

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

There is no doubt that we should be concerned about the impending skills gap.  Almost every client tells me that they do not have the skills  they need in certain areas of their manufacturing/ supply chain.  And, this issue is not improving – as baby boomers retire, knowledge leaves with them.  Technologies are constantly improving, requiring higher skill levels in every respect – which is also driving the skills gap.  We are in process of researching the current skills gap.  Please provide your feedback with this short survey.

The great news is that there are many people thinking about this topic.  The Drucker School and Toyota created the Women in Supply Chain mentoring program.  APICS, the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte created STEP Ahead.  Harvey Mudd College, the #1 school for engineering attracts an enrollment of at least 50% women.  The attendees at my speech last weekend for the western district of APICS was 50% women.  And the list goes on.

So, what can we do?  Mentor young women in supply chain.  Find ways to volunteer your time, educate and be involved with the women in your company.  Perhaps think about how you see them and make a conscious effort to encourage them to grow, invite their colleagues and friends to join the supply chain field.  And, by all means, do NOT ignore the men.  We need to grow our skills base dramatically to meet the demands of the next century.

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