Women In Supply Chain & Logistics

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. Collective action and shared ownership for driving gender parity are what make International Women’s Day impactful. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

The Logistics Institute wants to keep celebrating women’s achievements as the International Women’s Day focus continues every day. This year, we asked Caroline Gueugnon, P.Log. to share her experience and insights to inspire more women in the industry. 

We’d like to celebrate your achievements in what is still considered a male-dominated industry. Can you share any with us?

While achievements in this industry are often measured and quantified in the most pragmatic of ways, through KPIs and other metrics, I like to consider the more human and qualitative aspects.

Yes, it is an achievement in itself to have built and to develop my own Logistics and Supply Chain consultancy and to educate people when you consistently get asked “what is Supply Chain anyway?”, but it is far more of an achievement to me to witness the value I consistently provide through clients’ loyalty and trust, through the quality and long-standing relationships with my network and peers.

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about a career in Supply Chain & Logistics?

To women who intentionally entertain this industry of choice for a career, I would like to tell them to go for it 100%. I fell into this “cauldron of magic potion” by accident, in 1999, as I was fresh out of university and was looking for a job I could put my international trade (at the time basic) knowledge and language skills to good use. At the time, Supply Chain was not a “thing”, even less a term. At best, it was described by the different silo departments that represented it, in organizations that had enough global reach to need them, from Purchasing to Import/Export and/or distribution, etc.

Since then, thanks in part to globalization and enabling technologies, the field has been through a major transformation and is now a core competency center for a majority of companies, from the large corporation to the individual who starts its own side hustle. Supply chain has filtered through all layers of our lives from the unassuming banana you buy at the grocery store, to the tires on your car, or the building of the International Space station, and so much more.

Supply Chain and Logistics professionals are more sought after than ever. Today, they have a unique ability to shape the future of business and have a positive impact on sensitive supply chain issues. It is an exciting time to be one of these professionals. And I believe, women can and absolutely should pull their weight into this arena. For lack of a better word to encompass it, the “feminine” approach to business and leadership has a lot to contribute to bringing even more value to the field than it already had, without many women in it. The industry still has a rough connotation to it; I think it is still a very much male-dominated industry only because it was not yet successful in demonstrating its appeal to women, the same way a lot of other industries do not consider women as their main target audience.

If I had one piece of advice for them, keep being yourself, don’t try to “fit in”, walk your own path in the industry. Find what you enjoy the most and be good at it. Master it.

There are so many ways to impact the Logistics and Supply Chain industry and women have their own spin on it. It can be perceived as out-of-the-box thinking or not. Regardless, even the road less travelled (the women’s path in this case) leads to Rome, so as long as the measure of success is achieved, why would it matter which path you took to get to Rome?

What kind of barriers – or micro-inequities – do you still see in the industry?

In spite of efforts in the right direction, salary inequities are still very real today between genders, in my experience. I think there is a blurred line between barriers and stereotypes. I will elaborate on the next question.

What gender stereotypes leave you fuming?

The one gender stereotype which continues to astound me to this day is the overall societal biased perception that a woman, even if she decides to do both, cannot have a fulfilling (ambitious) career and family life at the same time, the way a man can. It’s part of the whole gender equality debate. However, a woman is very capable of handling both.

In the words of Australian feminist writer, G.D Anderson:

Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.

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