According to the widely publicized 2016 Fortune 500 list, women hold a measly 4.2% of all CEO positions in America’s five hundred largest companies. Seriously, you read that right. Four point two per cent. Men are two to three times more likely to work in a senior management position than women are (Catalyst.org). In 2015, women held 20.5% of Board seats and because of this startling statistic, Canada has made it one of its national goals to increase that figure to 30% by two-thousand-nineteen.
During our research for this article, we were absolutely astounded by these numbers. I mean, it’s always been remarkably clear that men hold the majority of power in the workplace, but being confronted by these jarring statistics really made us sit up and take notice. Noting just how immense the great divide is between men and women in the workforce served as the main driving force behind this post. Originally, this article wasn’t slated to appear on the blog until a little later on in the year, but since our findings were so impactful, why not publish sooner rather than later?
WOMEN’S IMPACT ON THE LABOUR FORCE
Prior to World War II, women had been expected to marry, have children and become happy homemakers while their husbands went off to work, becoming the family’s sole breadwinner. But during the War, when many men fought overseas, women entered the labour force in droves, doing their bit to “help out” until the men returned home. By 2016 – seven decades later – women made up 47.3% of the total labour force (Catalyst.org). That’s nearly half! In addition, it’s important to note that the number of working mothers continues to grow; between 1976 and 2007, employment for mothers with children under six years old more than doubled from 31.5% to 68.1 percent! (Catalyst.org)
What does this prove? That women are just as capable – not to mention as ambitious – as men are to join the workforce and get the job done! Why then aren’t women being taken more seriously by their employers? Why is there such a great divide between men and women in the workforce? Women are given less responsibility, less opportunity, fewer promotions, and far less monetary compensation compared to their male coworkers.
HOW THE SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT INDUSTRY IS WELCOMING WOMEN
There was a fantastic article published in July 2013 by online industry magazine Supply Chain Brain that touched upon how supply chain management has (over time) become a wise career path for women. Ann Drake, CEO of DSC Logistics, spoke about her new initiative AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management and Education) and the increase in female student numbers she’s noticed enrolling in supply chain courses at American colleges and universities. “The kind of talent that is needed in the industry today is that of orchestrator – people who are able to pull together different pieces and teams to work across organizations and silos. This is something that most women naturally do quite well.” (Making the Supply Chain a Better Career Path for Women, Supply Chain Brain).
The July/August 2016 issue of Supply Chain Management Review included a special profile of women in the supply chain industry. Although the article’s findings bring to light the vast differences between male and female workers’ official titles, responsibilities, and earnings, it’s important to note that change is in the air. A modicum of progress has been made and it’s especially evident in the following figure: the percentage of women who identified supply chain management as their primary job function (64.2%) was similar to male respondents (59.6%). This tells us that the number of women currently working in the industry is just about equal to the number of men. Although, at this point, women do have less experience than men do in the supply chain field (mostly due to late starts), women appear to be joining the industry in greater percentages than men currently are.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
As the years go by and the supply chain industry continues to expand and grow, women will gain more experience and thus gain increases in wages that will become comparable to what their male coworkers are earning. Women continue to make great strides in the workplace and their efforts have paid off enormously since the 1940s and the time of WWII. New industry studies and their findings appear to be hopeful and mostly encouraging compared to the general work force surveys quoted at the beginning of this post, and it’s lovely to see that the supply chain management industry has been so welcoming not only to female students, but to female workers and executives as well. Overall, according to our findings, it's fairly evident that the supply chain management and warehousing industries are leagues ahead of other major industries; supply chain and warehousing businesses seem to be welcoming women to their workforces with open arms and fostering relationships with them, encouraging them to succeed and grow exponentially to reach new heights!