Home Fleetwatch 2022 Survey finds that women in the supply chain profession face discrimination

Survey finds that women in the supply chain profession face discrimination

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The panellists who took part in the discussion on breaking down barriers for women in supply chain leadership were SAPICS president and chief executive officer (CEO) of ProscE2E, South Africa, MJ Schoemaker; Lebogang Letsoalo, CEO of Sincpoint and the founding member of African Women in Supply Chain; Azuka Okeke, CEO of Africa Resource Centre for Excellence in Nigeria; Kirsten Nel, head of sales for Janssen Pharma companies at Johnson & Johnson, South Africa; and Lisa Venziano, chair of the Association for Supply Chain Management in the USA.
The panellists who took part in the discussion on breaking down barriers for women in supply chain leadership were SAPICS president and chief executive officer (CEO) of ProscE2E, South Africa, MJ Schoemaker; Lebogang Letsoalo, CEO of Sincpoint and the founding member of African Women in Supply Chain; Azuka Okeke, CEO of Africa Resource Centre for Excellence in Nigeria; Kirsten Nel, head of sales for Janssen Pharma companies at Johnson & Johnson, South Africa; and Lisa Venziano, chair of the Association for Supply Chain Management in the USA.

With the COVID pandemic acting as a spur in highlighting the vital importance of supply chains in all functions of society – and with last month being celebrated as Women’s Month – FleetWatch thought our readers in supply chains would find this interesting.

According to a ‘2023 Women in Supply Chain Leadership Survey’ undertaken by SAPICS (The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management) more than half of the respondents said they had experienced or witnessed discrimination in the workplace.

In a panel discussion at the annual SAPICS Conference, Africa’s leading event for the supply chain profession, some of the survey results were presented and a panel of women supply chain leaders shared their experiences and insights. 

The discussion was moderated by Dr Pretty Mubaiwa, a leading expert in the field of women’s rights, health supply chains, development, conflict, international public law and human rights law, and international relations. Dr Mubaiwa is a seasoned researcher who helped to develop the SAPICS Women in Supply Chain Leadership Survey.

During the study, SAPICS found that across Africa, there is a lack of information on women in leadership and even fewer insights specific to women in supply chain leadership. The majority of respondents – a total of 83% – were South African. The balance of women who participated were from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique and Eswatini, among other countries.

These women represent a diverse range of sectors including the retail, mining, education, finance, cosmetics, health, pharmaceutical and medical industries, and their roles span across all levels of their organisations, mostly in the supply chain sphere.

The finding that 56% of women had experienced or witnessed discrimination in the workplace was one of the survey’s most worrying results, Dr Mubaiwa commented. However, the survey findings included that 59% of respondents believed that career advancement opportunities are equal across genders. However, 22% strongly disagreed with this. More than half of the participants think that salaries are higher for men.

A lack of self-confidence was cited as one of the biggest barriers to career advancement, according to the women surveyed. Research published by the Harvard Business Review found that men apply for a job when they only meet 60% of the qualification but women only apply if they meet 100% of them. The SAPICS Conference panellists urged attendees to change this. It is also something that recruiting managers must be aware of, they stated.

A common thread in the discussion was that breaking down barriers for women in supply chain leadership will not happen by chance. The panellists agreed that intentional actions are needed by organisations to attract, recruit, retain and promote women. The issue of unconscious bias must be addressed, they stressed.

Training to overcome this was recommended for everyone in hiring positions and those conducting interviews for promotions. Teams doing the interviews and managing recruitment should be diverse, they stated, and an unwavering focus on creating and promoting a diverse culture was vital.
Editor’s Footnote: So there’s something for all companies right along the supply chain to think about and work on. In FleetWatch’s view, we don’t care if a person is male, female, black, white, Coloured or Indian (have I left anyone out). If they have the right skills and passion to do the job, they’re the right person for the job – except for long haul truck drivers as we feel that the on-road risks are just too high at present for women to be out there on their own. Why are we still haggling about male or female? Let’s get the right skills in place and get this place moving. We’ve all seen what cadre deployment has done to South Africa. Instead of building, they have destroyed, and those cadres have been both male and female. Even Patrice Motsepe has argued for this stating at the recent presentation of African Rainbow Mineral’s (ARM) financial results for the 2023 financial year that “the principle of employing the best skills and expertise, the best person for the job, is non-negotiable.” He didn’t mention male or female. He urged for the best person for the job to be employed. That’s how it should be. Think about it.

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