Women in Wholesale Distribution

Transforming the Landscape for Women in Distribution

Women in technology are narrowing the gap toward digital transformation in the distribution industry.

There have been significant increases in the number of women employed over the past decade in the distribution industry. A recent survey by Gartner titled ‘Women in the Supply Chain 2021’ revealed that 41% are women. Of those, 15% are in executive roles. Statistics also show that women are achieving significant gains in higher education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Study fields include computer science, automation, economics, and physics.

Employment in the Wholesale Distribution Industry 2021

Overall, women dominate undergraduate enrollment.  However, the trends in STEM enrollment fall short of overall college enrollment by gender, but women are catching up. Based on data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), women represented 45% of students majoring in STEM fields in 2020, up from 40% in 2010 and 34% in 1994. Yet, women are grossly underrepresented in the workforce.

Distribution companies today are facing challenges across many aspects of their business. These challenges spark conversations about ways to create employee retention, implement data-driven technologies and increase efficiency in daily processes. Digital transformation incorporates all areas of business and is inevitable for the distribution industry to move forward. Many feel the time to change is now, sooner than later, but companies are unsure where to start or what to do next.

Narrowing the Divide

Hiring and Retention

Employee hiring and retention have become a significant struggle for distributors. After the pandemic, distributors are finding it hard to hire and maintain good employees. Traditionally, distribution has been a male-dominated industry. With women narrowing the divide with educational qualifications in technology, engineering, and economics, distributors can look for ways to attract more top female talent to digital transformation roles. Along with attracting talent, distributors can also develop plans to retain and advance women throughout their careers. A lack of career opportunities is the leading reason mid-career women leave a supply chain organization.

One way of doing this is by starting initiatives encouraging conversations about advancement, career goals, and continued education—set goals for gender diversity and equal opportunities at all levels of the business. Encourage a strong network for teamwork and leverage mentors to further careers for women in distribution.

Intelligent Technologies

Alongside the struggle to find qualified talent, distributors lack the adaptation of new software technologies. For over 25 years, distributors have relied on ERP systems as their technology backbone. According to the MDM report “The State of Digital Platforms in Distribution,” distributors are looking for ways to grow their analytics capabilities beyond financial reporting. The need for intelligent technology such as BI, CRM, and pricing optimization software gives way to opportunities and growth.

This means that both employment and revenue opportunities can be established with digital transformation and a diverse workplace. In 2020, women made up 28% to 42% of the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft) workforce, according to self-reported data from Statista. More broadly, according to Gartner research, only 31% of IT employees are women.

At White Cup, we are raising the bar on creating software solutions specifically designed for distributors to drive growth. We have also recognized the need to bridge the gender divide in the workplace and are honored to have many women leaders on our team.

Automation Process

Intelligent technologies give real-time data to improve operational activities and create automation processes in daily transactions and logistics. With the ever-changing state of today’s distribution market, developing efficiency and adaptation gives distributors a competitive edge. Providing the right information across various interaction points allows employees to make better decisions. This means they can be more effective in their role and feel more satisfaction, helping companies retain employees and combat the talent shortage.

Currently, the logistics industry doesn’t always project an image that may be inviting to women. However, the fast-paced environment for distributors creates challenging roles that appeal to a gender-diverse workforce.  Positions in inventory management, logistics engineering, supply chain management, regulatory management, etc., are career-building positions for women seeking leadership roles.

In summary, women in distribution play an essential role in growing the industry exponentially. Distributors can examine their employee initiatives, intelligent technologies, and automation processes to evaluate areas of transformation and growth. Gender diversity breeds higher quality products, companies, and sectors. Different backgrounds, experiences, and ideas ultimately help make any business and industry stronger.

Written By

Anastasia LeBar Profile Image

Anastasia LeBar

Digital Marketing Manger, White Cup

Anastasia LeBar joined White Cup in 2021 as the Digital Marketing Manager.  She brings with her over 25 years of marketing and sales experience in the B2B industry. Anastasia has an entrepreneurial spirit with a background in starting and running a distribution company as its CEO for over 20 years. She has a passion for SaaS technology and the advantages that it brings to foster new business opportunities.

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