Women in supply chain management

Diversity and inclusion in manufacturing

As complexity throughout the supply chain grows, technology and data drive greater value, and the skills gap widens, companies need new, more diverse talent. Learn how your organization can diversify talent and support women in supply chain management to drive performance and profitability.

Behind the need for diverse talent

Technology and analytics allow companies to operate more proactively and productively when it comes to their supply chains. Accordingly, skills related to these innovative technologies are now in high demand. There’s also a new luster and excitement in supply chain and manufacturing operations as the potential of these technologies is drawing candidates in.

Pursuing more diverse talent brings different perspectives, experiences, and strengths to the table to support jobs of the future. Women in supply chain management totaled about 47 percent of the labor force in 2016, but only 29 percent of the manufacturing workforce, according to research by Deloitte in collaboration with The Manufacturing Institute and APICS.

Research has already shown that diversity improves profitability and ability to innovate—which we hear from our teams and clients every day. Companies are also preparing for a future where humans and machines work side-by-side. Having a more inclusive, diverse workforce allows them to be more agile, more creative, and better prepared.

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Inclusion as the competitive advantage

Explore the case for women in supply chain

Women in manufacturing: Attracting female talent to the supply chain

There are many creative ideas for diversifying supply chain talent—from workshops, labs, and mentoring to early education programs in schools. These ideas need to become best practices and receive buy-in from all sides of the business.

We’re starting to see new and innovative answers to diversity challenges in the supply chain as companies experiment and see results. Some of our ideas and initiatives include:

  • Intentionally upscaling resources to pull them under the umbrella, train them up, and re-introduce them into the organization.
  • Instituting more mentorship and sponsorship programs. Did you know that the percentage of women technology chiefs is far higher than that of female CEOs and CFOs, according to multiple analyses?2 Advocating for women in supply chain and manufacturing roles early on can drives the leadership and technical skills to help women climb the corporate ladder. One organization, MakerGirl, is a mission-driven STEM program that focuses on 3D printing and inspires young girls to be active in science, technology, engineering, and math. Other programs, such as the Deloitte-sponsored initiative Girls Who Code, work to build interest and skills outside or before female talent enters the corporate world.
  • Focusing on supply chain diversity as a component of the supply chain of the future in the Deloitte Greenhouse® space that can help teams develop an actionable agenda.
  • Conducting academic partnerships, roundtables, and other initiatives with universities—including our Deloitte and Universities Enabling Together (DUET) program—across the country to encourage women to pursue supply chain careers. Last year, the DUET program helped to attract interest from nearly three dozen female students to pursue a career within supply chain at Deloitte. In just the past two years, the percentage of women who believe the school system “encourages” female students to pursue manufacturing careers has more than doubled, from 12 to 29 percent.1
  • Driving recruitment through the media by having a variety of voices at conferences and events who speak on the topic of supply chain. Industry ambassadors partner with other leaders using these opportunities to reap benefits in education and at industry events.

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Promoting inclusive supply chain leadership

While we support our supply chain clients that foster inclusive cultures in their organizations, we’re also embarking on a series of internal inclusion programs, from educational partnerships and conference sponsorship to mentoring and leadership development. And we’re already seeing great results.

We recently expanded our leadership development program. Initially, it was aimed at senior leadership, but it’s now a mobile program for different levels of the organization. It aims to build leadership capacities as part of core skillset at an early phase.

Within the federal practice, we have developed a sponsorship program to build skills. We have already seen increased involvement in business development and eminence. We also sponsor major educational programs at universities and partner with conferences, like APICS, to raise the visibility of supply chain work and encourage talent.

Deloitte is getting back into the “Right Step” program to encourage high school and even earlier educational opportunities in supply chain. Our close partnership with other practice areas—including Human Capital and Technology—provides opportunities to get buy-in and approach the problem from all areas.

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Research shows that truly inclusive cultures outperform their peers, and that diversity and inclusion directly correlates to having the highest impact on business. In my personal experience, the interaction and diversity of thought we generate on teams is invaluable and fuels our competitive advantage in the marketplace.

—Mona Maurelli, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Supply chain talent under the microscope

Consumers and businesses today are increasingly aware of how companies conduct their business and with whom they partner. As such, companies have an opportunity to demonstrate the positive impact inclusion and diversity has on a supply chain and the business as a whole. People want to work with—and for—those organizations that prioritize inclusion.

People are looking at supply chain diversity under increased scrutiny and are holding companies accountable for their practices throughout the talent process. Organizations should take the lead when it comes to inclusion and make positive change that’s felt across the industry.

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End notes

Employed persons by detailed industry, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity; Labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey,” Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Korn Ferry Institute, The gap at the top, August 17, 2016.

Get in touch

Ji Park
Managing Director
Supply Chain & Network Operations
Deloitte Consulting LLP


Mona A. Maurelli
Managing Director
Supply Chain & Network Operations
Deloitte Consulting LLP


Joe  Chmielewski
Managing Director
Supply Chain & Network Operations
Deloitte Consulting LLP

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