Moving the dial on gender equality

The supply chain industry is characterised by an ageing and largely male workforce, but this is starting to change. Leading the way in this step-change is technology solutions provider Körber Supply Chain. MHD catches up with the APAC team to find out more.

In 2020, Deakin University’s Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics (CSCL) released its report on the under-representation of women in the supply chain and logistics workforce. The report is based on extensive interviews with more than 100 women in the sector, making it the most comprehensive study of this issue in Australia to date. 

The research revealed that the sector has an image problem, with stereotypical views of male truck drivers and dirty warehouses that discourage many women from applying, and a boys’ club reputation that typically holds women back in their careers.

While there is still a long way to go, there is a step-change happening in the industry and a number of businesses leading the way when it comes to gender equality in supply chain. One of the businesses in the APAC region is Körber Supply Chain. According to Nishan Wijemanne, Managing Director APAC at Körber Supply Chain, recruitment practices have traditionally been one-dimensional in this sector, which is holding the industry back. 

“Recruitment practices need to be much wider and strategic to ensure we attract a more diverse workforce,” Nishan says. “At Körber Supply Chain, we look behind the CV and dive deeper into cultural awareness, ambition and background. This has helped us recruit from a much more diverse background than the traditional profile of supply chain professionals.”

As a result of attracting a much more diverse workforce, not just from a gender perspective but from an education and cultural background perspective – the outlook, experience and way Körber Supply Chain approaches business and client relationships has been improved and enhanced, Nishan says. 

While there is a long way to go, the industry is improving and in 2021, Gartner’s annual Women in Supply Chain Survey results showed the highest percentage of women in the supply chain workforce since the survey’s inception in 2016.

The survey revealed that women now comprise 41 per cent of the supply chain workforce, up from 39 per cent in 2020. Additionally, every leadership level saw an increase in representation, except the executive level where there has been a slight decline – with women only accounting for 15 per cent of executive level roles, which is down from 17 per cent in 2020. 

At Körber Supply Chain’s Elevate conference in 2021, female senior leaders and change markers from across the supply chain industry met to discuss what needs to be done to attract more women in supply chain. 

Speaking at Elevate APAC, Kari Banick, General Manager at Linfox said she fell into the industry by accident, which is often the case in supply chain. She said she immediately loved the people and process aspect of supply chain and the opportunity to implement the newest of new technology. 

At the event, all of the panellists were unanimous in their gratitude and enthusiasm for the opportunities the industry has given them and each spoke of their commitment to making sure they improve diversity across the board. 

According to Nishan, creating an inclusive environment for all is key to recruiting a more diverse workforce in supply chain and for him, this ultimately comes down to good leadership. 

“Leaders at all levels across the business need to work harder to create an inclusive environment – this is how we learn and develop business practices over time,” he says. “Inclusivity and collaboration must be paramount at all levels of the business.”

Körber Supply Chain APAC prides itself on its diverse workforce. With a number of females in executive, sales and marketing roles – the business is proud to demonstrate that it is an equal opportunities employer. 

“I am extremely proud of the team we have built over the years,” Nishan says. “With one of the most diverse teams in the market, I have had the privileged opportunity of collaborating and learning from a number of amazing women on my journey in this industry. The female leaders in our team continue to deliver exceptional leadership and outcomes across the board.”

The Körber Supply Chain APAC team was recently recognised at the Honeywell Partner Conference with team members Claudia Ford, Client Executive, and Tarryn Edelstein, Southern Region Sales Manager, both winning the Partner Sales Achiever Award. 

Throughout Körber Supply Chain APAC’s history, the organisation has recruited beyond the usual industry profiles, and as a result has been able to highlight the great opportunities that can be found in the supply chain and tech industry. 

“I think the exposure to the opportunities in this sector is greater than it used to be,” Nishan says. “I even see that with my own daughters and their journey through life and education. The supply chain space is becoming a more attractive space to work in, and there is a great opportunity ahead to take advantage of. Whether that’s in a start-up or a large corporate – I think the opportunity today is greater than it has ever been.”

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