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How Women and Millennials Can Solve the Supply Chain Gap

A persistent talent crisis exists in supply chain management, especially as supply chains become increasingly complex and strategized. The ever-changing nature of the industry has created a split to the point where only 38% of supply chain employers remain confident in their workforce, according to a 2016 article by Supply Chain 247. Since 25-33% of the current workforce is at or past the age of retirement, reported Supply Chain Dive in 2017, the $26 trillion industry must close the gap to keep up with growing supply and demand by recruiting outside of the usual demographic. Minorities in the supply chain field may be the best strategy to keep pace with job demand.

Women in the Supply Chain: Room for Growth

Women remain one of the largest untapped workforce pools, making up 50% of graduates but only 29% of the manufacturing workforce, according to a 2017 article on Supply Chain 247. Furthermore, another piece by Supply Chain 247 states that though 35% of the supply chain workforce is women, only 5% account for senior leadership roles. Women graduating from higher education do not see themselves represented in the industry and are more likely to seek jobs where they can envision themselves getting promoted. Those already in leadership roles actively encourage more women to join the industry, stating that the field isn’t a boy’s club. In fact, women in leadership roles have consistently shown success according to research.

Catalyst discovered that companies with more women in leadership had 35% more return on equity and 34% more return to shareholders than companies with fewer women in leadership. Fortune 500 companies with three or more women board directors had 66% more return on invested capital, 42% more return on sales and 53% more return on equity. Because 50% of the marketable demographic is women and they make up 80-85% of all consumer decisions, it literally pays to have women influential to the business. Women senior leaders have the opportunity to shape the culture and reputation of the companies, encouraging more female talent to join the workforce, and can offer unique perspectives on customer service, innovation and building an overall inclusive environment.

Millennial Takeover

60 million Baby Boomers are projected to leave the industry by 2025 with only 40 million employees expected to take their place, according to the 2015 Automotive Industry Brief. Supply chain companies are trying to provide more millennial mentorships, cross-functional support and better internship experiences to seek out new employees. In recruiting millennials, supply chain leaders should focus on how a career in the field aligns with millennial values: innovation and sustainability.

By replacing more traditional RF terminals with smartphones and tablets, the manufacturing industry can appeal to millennials’ interest in technology and cut down on training in those areas. Concepts already growing in the industry like autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, robotics, crowdsourcing and digital business are all areas of interest to a generation that prides itself on technological understanding.

Supply ChainX notes that 64% of millennials want to make the world a better place; the industry is already seeking more sustainable options to appeal to their eco-conscientious consumers, they need to promote those projects to encourage younger support in the field.

Though the previous generations that comprise most of the industry remain skeptical of millennial value to their workforce, Peerless Research Group found that millennials provide the highest-educated generation thus far, with 59% of manufacturing employees graduating with a bachelor’s degree and many planning to continue their studies toward future promotions and improving work. The recent study also shows that millennials currently in the supply chain workforce are satisfied with their jobs and likely to stay with their current employer.

The supply chain industry must begin to take advantage of these untapped talent pools to succeed in a rapidly shifting industry. Women and millennials have more to offer in a new era of innovation and technology if they can be encouraged to enter the supply chain industry.

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