Supply Chain & Gender Diversity- Merging Different Perspectives to Achieve Greater Results
Men and women solve problems in different ways. Men tend to internally focus on solutions, pondering quietly over the best approach until committing to a course of action. Conversely, women typically externalize their thinking, engaging others for support to discuss the details before going all in.
Both methods yield results. However, when the two work together, a heightened consciousness emerges that breaks down barriers faster and in more creative ways.
This year’s Women in Supply Chain awards shed light on the value of gender-diverse problem-solving in the supply chain, by showcasing how women’s increased role in the male-dominated industry is producing better performance, to the benefit of coworkers and clients alike.
Susan Estes, senior supply chain consultant for client services at Open Sky Group, and one of this year’s Women in Supply Chain award winners, explains. “Where men tend to compete, women tend to cooperate,” she said. “When I first started, I often felt I was on the outside looking in, until I found a way to fit in and be heard.”
Susan found her way by building bridges among team members individually. She took time to establish commonalities with her peers and soon won her share-of-voice among the group. Before long, the awkwardness faded and, as Susan put it, “we started to gel as a team.”
It All Comes Down to Teamwork
Among the attributes needed to be a successful supply chain leader, Susan listed “honesty, the ability to communicate intelligently and compassionately, innate curiosity, the ability to foster curiosity in others and team spirit – encouraging others to bring out their best.”
The key is finding talented women to expand the focus and then nurturing that talent to amplify the impact. This requires an emphasis on recruiting women.
“Fortunately, are many entry points in the supply chain,” Susan said. “Once you find a qualified candidate, the trick then becomes managing and mentoring that talent, and providing opportunities for advancement that recognize ability over gender. When you seek out the best and reward the best, that leads to retention and a better performing workforce overall.”
For women interested in advancing their careers in the global supply chain industry, Susan advises, “Diversify your own knowledge and understanding of how the industry works.”
Susan entered the business as a software consultant but built her career by understanding how supply chain companies operate, so she could imagine software’s role in the proper business context.
“The more knowledge you have of other areas of the business,” she said, “the better you position yourself for advancement opportunities. You are only limited by your own curiosity and willingness to adapt.”