When we talk about the concept of inclusiveness, usually we're referring to individuals. Are we welcoming everyone, regardless of gender, race, nationality, and state of health? Are we providing opportunities for everyone to participate fully in education, employment, health care, the arts, housing, and government?
Those are all important concerns in our personal lives, our communities, and in our businesses. But there's another kind of inclusiveness that matters to supply chain professionals: who is eligible to belong to professional and educational organizations.
I was reminded of this on two occasions earlier this month. In one instance, I watched a new video produced by our joint venture partner, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP). In the video, members explained what CSCMP means to them and how they and their companies benefit from belonging to this global organization. The speakers ranged from a fresh-out-of-college sales representative for a third-party logistics company, to a high-level executive at an industrial real estate firm, to a supply chain project manager at a national hardware retailer—to name just a few. They were young and old, men and women, native-born and immigrants, operations experts and marketing professionals, and employed by companies of all types and sizes. One common thread in their comments was the value they placed on the knowledge and insights they've gained through networking and sharing information with CSCMP's diverse membership—one of CSCMP's greatest strengths, in my opinion.
The second occasion was when I attended the 21st annual Northeast Trade and Transportation Conference. The membership of the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade (CONECT), which runs the conference, mirrors an international supply chain. Every entity that plays any kind of role in facilitating international trade and transportation is represented. This includes not just the expected participants like exporters, importers, carriers, freight forwarders, and customs brokers, but also "peripheral" members of global supply chains, such as port authorities, customs attorneys, cargo insurance providers, trade management software providers, banks, and government agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Why does it matter that groups like CSCMP, CONECT, and many others have such an inclusive approach to membership? Certainly, there is value in organizations where members are all "in the same boat," so to speak. But no participant in a supply chain works in isolation; each is intertwined with other players—sometimes many others—and what one does influences participants both upstream and down. Organizations with diverse memberships give us the opportunity to ask questions, share information, and, most importantly, learn from all of the contributors to the success of our supply chains.