Research shows that inclusive organizations are twice as likely to meet or even exceed their financial targets. Yet the question remains: Have supply chain organizations finally begun to crack the code on gender diversity?
It is no surprise that DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives have been strongly supported worldwide in the last few years. And with a significant majority of companies intending to shift from diversity as a program to inclusion as a business strategy, the workplace is finally becoming more diverse than ever before.
Today, women make up for roughly 39% of the supply chain workforce on average. This is a significant improvement from previous years, since more supply chain organizations have now set goals to attract, develop and promote women. However, it seems like some parts of the industry are still playing catch-up when it comes to attracting a workforce more capable of meeting the technical, operational, and cultural challenges in the marketplace. The percentage of female collaborators in the organization reduces as the services and tasks get more specific and technical.
The barriers for women to advance in highly specialized fields are manifold and often rooted in gendered divisions of labor, gendered choices of professions and cultural perceptions of suitability for certain positions. Another important dimension is skills development. Women often lack access to training opportunities that would allow them to improve within their actual occupation or advance in it. The lack of specific technical skills also contributes to them remaining mainly in administrative positions, not necessarily advancing to more specialized areas.
Customs Classification is the perfect example. It is an area where women were nowhere to be seen only a few years ago. A highly specialized and still male dominated field where traditionally, knowledge was acquired empirically with little professional guide. Even though times have changed, and proper credentials are now required to perform the task, the gender bias has not improved that much. Out of the 2450 (approximately) licensed Customs Classifiers that can be found in Mexico, 85 are women. Remember that 39% of female presence in Supply Chain? All the sudden the national average dropped to less than 4% in this field.
In response to this shocking statistic, GEODIS Americas’ Centre of Excellence in Guadalajara has focused its efforts on initiatives that are already yielding results. The Americas Operational Management Support services (OMS) team is driving change towards a more diverse professional environment, with women taking two thirds of its first line of management. Furthermore, we are starting 2021 with a one of a kind all-female team of Customs Classification specialists covering operations in seven countries. This means GEODIS alone is supporting the professional development of 3.5% of the country’s female Classifier population.
It is important to mention how crucial it is for men to actively participate in these actions. Change does not happen overnight, and without their support, we would make even slower progress. Having a more diverse workforce allows GEODIS to be more agile, more creative, and better prepared for the challenges our current fast-paced environment brings. Inclusion is a critical ingredient for business success and essential to continue building the workforce of the future.
This article was revised and edite by Ana Rosa ARANA firstname.lastname@example.org.