More than half of the respondents in the 2023 Women in Supply Chain Leadership Survey undertaken by SAPICS (The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management) said that 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. This session was rated by SAPICS Conference attendees as one of the most popular at the 2023 event, which took place in Cape Town and saw more than 700 supply chain professionals from around the world gather to learn and network.
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. This important discussion was moderated by Dr Pretty Mbaiwa, 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% – are South African. The balance of women who participated are from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique and Eswatini, among other countries. They represent a diverse range of sectors, include 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 survey findings included that 59% of respondents believe 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.
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.
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.
This year’s milestone 45th SAPICS Conference was co-hosted by The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management (SAPICS) and the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF). Supply chain practitioners from 32 countries across Africa and around the world attended the event, which has been hosted by The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management (SAPICS) since 1975.
For more information:
Tel: +27 (0) 10 013 3442