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Supply Chain Industry Updates

What is Your Company Doing to Nurture its Women Leaders?


Let’s say there is a colleague at work who demonstrates many common traits of leadership — for instance, being a team player, building trust, being empathetic. Assuming they have the correct technical skills, you’d probably expect that person to actually be in the leadership ranks at your company, right?

Why is it, then, that only 13% of senior leaders in logistics are women, according to Novosensus, when the training consultant’s survey of nearly 2,000 people in the industry found women generally were regarded as better leaders than their peers?

That finding is in line with data Gartner shared this summer that showed only 17% of top supply chain executives overall were female, although the percentage (25%) was higher in retail/consumer goods. (Gartner speculated this low level of representation was because women were less likely than men to have backgrounds in STEM disciplines.)

In its own research, Novosensus found that women:

  • “Often miss a sense of being valued, appreciated and recognized at work, and rate their employee experience to be 10%  lower than men’s. 
  • “Are not treated equally by their leaders, and rate their experience of their leaders 19% lower than men.
  • “Believe less in themselves and their  abilities, and report 15% lower self-efficacy and 22% lower optimism than men.”

“By definition, logistics, freight forwarding and supply chain management is about collaboration. It is not without reason that we talk about a ‘chain’ because the links need to be connected,” Henrik Kofod-Hansen, a Novosensus co-founder and author of the report, blogged this week. “Female leaders are rated higher in regard to how their teams collaborate, and they give clearer directions to their employees. Without going into a scientific analysis of this, we all know this is paramount for high performance.”

“Gender balance is a question of fairness, and it makes organizations better.”

What can be done to ensure more talented women have the opportunity to be promoted to leadership roles? Kofod-Hansen and Novosensus recommended these best practices:

  • Accelerate the female leadership pipeline by treating gender equality as “a strategic business topic, because female leaders improve collaboration and performance.” 
  • Create a truly inclusive and positive workplace — “Anti-bias trainings can be necessary, but you must avoid  being trapped in a negative framing that can create a backlash,” the report said. “Instead of trying to ‘control’ people’s behaviors, rather focus on the culture and business opportunities that can be developed together.”
  • Teach your leaders to be more inclusive — This will “benefit the entire organization, boost collaboration, psychological safety and create a level playing field for everyone.”  
  • Enable your female leaders to step up –– “Focus on development of strengths and self-leadership competencies.” And not just for women. By making this training available to a wider audience, “you create a wave of  learning and empathy that positively changes your organizational culture.”

“When I talk with my daughter about inequality of any kind, she says something that I believe is very true: ‘It doesn’t make any sense,'” Kofod-Hansen wrote in the report. “Gender balance is a question of fairness, and it makes organizations better. The research in this white paper is a proof of that.”

You can download the white paper here.


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