Australia’s multibillion-dollar supply-chain industry must close its gender gap and attract fresh talent if it wants to grow to meet an increasingly automated future, according to Deakin University’s Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics (CSCL). The CSCL asserts that fewer than one in 10 employees are women in the supply chain industry, and there is a 21.8 per cent gender pay gap.
CSCL initiative ‘Wayfinder: Supply Chain Careers for Women’ has been funded by 13 foundation sponsors, including Qube, ARTC, Woolworths, Lion, Toll, Viva Energy, Linx Cargo Care, VICT and DP World.
Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO launches Wayfinder on 8 March, International Women’s Day, at a luncheon in Geelong, Victoria. It was the first in a series of luncheons to be held across the country, the second of which will take place in Melbourne on 15 March.
Dr Hermione Parsons, Director, CSCL, explained that the luncheons have been designed to link company demand for talented female workers with women and girls across the community, and offer the opportunity to hear from inspirational women working in the industry.
“These events form an important part of a three-year project to bring new talent into the supply chain industry,” said Dr Parsons.
“This will be supported by a program of research, new resources to help people better understand the industry and its career opportunities, plus the establishment of Deakin graduate pathways to meet the demand for talented workers.”
Dr Parsons said the supply-chain industry was currently experiencing a rapid period of change, with huge technological advances, increasing automation and globalisation of trade.
“New talent and skills are desperately needed, but currently we’re only accessing 50 per cent of the talent,” she said. “Ultimately, supply chain has an image problem. We must change how the community sees supply chain and understands its enormous significance to the national economy if we’re going to turnaround a rapidly ageing and male-dominated workforce.”
Dr Parsons said that was hard when most people did not know what ‘supply chain’ actually was, despite more than one million jobs in Australia being tied to supply chain–related activities.
“Simply put, a supply chain is everything and everybody involved in bringing a product to a consumer,” she said. “Supply chains make our modern lives possible. There would be no supplies in our hospitals, food in our supermarkets, or products in our stores if it were not for supply chains that move all of these goods from being just raw materials all the way to the finished products in our hands.”
Belinda Flynn, General Manager – Health Safety and Environment, Qube, and a driving force behind Wayfinder, noted that there is a misconception about job opportunities within the supply chain.
“Supply chains are experiencing enormous growth and retailer groups are becoming more sophisticated in how they move goods through their distribution channels,” she said.
“The industry needs a different capability within their talent pool. We’re seeing the need to recruit for different types of jobs such as automation or robotics technicians, as well as innovation and IT specialists.
“This presents a golden opportunity for women to enter new career paths in supply chain today, and for young girls to choose courses now to get the best supply chain jobs of tomorrow.”