Young supply chain professionals give candid comments in UTK whitepaper

November 21, 20192 minute read

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI) has released a whitepaper titled “Young Women’s Perspectives on Supply Chain Diversity and Inclusion.” AWESOME Advisor Mary Long, managing director of GSCI’s Supply Chain Forum is co-author of the report, along with Dr. Diane Mollenkopf and Ted Stank, who served as contributing editor.

The study is based on information gathered through in-depth interviews and focus groups with women studying in the Department of Supply Chain Management at the Haslam College of Business and recent graduates who are in the early stage of their career. This information is especially geared to firms that want to recruit, retain and advance women, as well as shape and manage diversity within their organization.

The topics covered include why women choose supply chain management as a major, transitioning from college to the professional world, the “perfection trap,” gaining respect and being valued, and work/life issues. In the “How to Succeed” section, the whitepaper focuses on corporate culture, mentoring programs, flexible work policies, and managing the pipeline.

To summarize key study findings, UT used the AWESOME Reach Framework of reaching up, reaching out, reaching in, reaching back and reaching across. AWESOME developed the framework to facilitate discussions among senior women in supply chain and produce the 2019 Action Agenda with recommended actions to effectively move women’s leadership forward.

The UT whitepaper, which is sponsored by Ryder, also draws from the AWESOME/Gartner Women in Supply Chain Research, pointing out that retention of women in supply chain is now of major concern to organizations. In addition, that research found that while 40 percent of the supply chain workforce is comprised of women, only 15 percent of the firms included in the study reported having female representation at their executive levels.

According to Mary Long, “The relevance of this research cannot be overstated…A recent study shows that the loss of a single mid career supply chain professional can cost a company two or three times their salary. Supply chain leaders should learn from the issues identified here to prevent costly losses of female supply chain managers in the future.”

This whitepaper is the first in a series of GSCI white papers on People in Supply Chain. Other series published by GSCI include the Game-Changers Series, Innovation Series, Strategy Series, and Technology in the Supply Chain Series. They are available for download.

Diane Mollenkopf, PhD, conducted the research and co-authored the whitepaper as an assistant professor at UTK; currently she’s on the faculty of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Ted Stank, PhD, is the Harry J. & Vivienne R. Bruce Chair of Excellence in the Department of Supply Chain Management at the University of Tennessee.