Women comprise 41 per cent of the supply chain workforce globally in 2021, up from 39 per cent last year, according to a new survey. 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," according to ‘The Women in Supply Chain Survey 2021' by Gartner.
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 per cent of executive level roles in supply chain, down from 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 said in a statement.
The findings, however, 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.
Eighty-four percent of responding organisations stated that COVID-19 had no discernible impact on their ability 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.