IDW: Celebrating women in the global supply chain

Celebrating women in supply chain

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we wanted to pay tribute to women in the global supply chain. 

How many women are in the global supply chain?

In 2021 women comprised 41% of the supply chain workforce. This number has grown by 3% from 2020. It’s been statistically proven that hiring more women increases productivity, contributes to diversity, and benefits the company so it stands to reason that we’ll see this number rise in the next few years.

Where do women work in the global supply chain?

When we look at the global supply chain, there’s approximately 190 million women working within it. However, women’s employment within the global supply chain sits within the lower tiers. This number is largely made up of laborers in factories, farms and packing houses that create clothing, goods and food. 

In the textile workforce women represent between 70-90% of garment workers in developing countries. In agricultural production the numbers fluctuate depending on the type of crop as well as country but across the board we see women excluded from higher-paying/specialized roles within this sector.

One thing can be said, the majority of positions held by women often promise financial independence but the reality for these laborers is a life of unsafe working conditions, excessive hours, and wages that don’t make ends meet.

Why is there a lack of female representation in higher-paying specialized global supply chain roles?

The largest factor comes to exposure to STEM careers and historically men made up the factory workforce and saw career advancement to management/decision making roles. The lack of career opportunities for mid-career women is an increasing challenge. Gender parity is increasing steadily in most developed countries though. You can read more about the historical reasons for women’s lack of representation in our article here

Why is it important to have women involved in the global supply chain?

Having more female representation in the supply chain workforce benefits the business as it increases productivity, less staff turnover and a healthier work environment. Simply put, women’s empowerment is good for business.

Diversity standards are pushing many supply chains in the direction of more female representation in higher paying functions. Public reporting on diversity metrics creates a vested interest in understanding and closing the gender wage and representation gaps. It also contributes to lowering turnover since people aren’t departing when they realize their wages aren’t paid fairly. What’s more, it sets a public example for younger generations and shows them paths to career success. 

What is being done to gain more women into the global supply chain?

The UN has a global development agenda and gender equality is recognised as critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 5 specifically outlines empowering all women and girls as well as removing barriers to work.

There’s a lot of unseen labour/burden that falls on women outside of working hours that can impede their ability to gain higher paying roles, which is why it’s important for companies with a supply chain to understand the needs and vulnerabilities of women workers and how their business operations impact them.

Lauren Armstrong
Lauren joined QAD in 2019 as a Digital Marketing Manager and is based in Birmingham, UK. She's responsible for all things digital for the EMEA markets and is passionate about growing audiences and creating lead journeys that bring value to prospects. Lauren grew up in the suburbs of Canada's capital, Ottawa (eh!), but migrated to the UK six years ago. She's an avid cook, traveler, runner, donut connoisseur, and has a very loud but infectious laugh.