When supply chain operations burst into newspaper headlines during pandemic business disruptions after years of flying below the radar, that change was only the most public sign that the role of the chief supply chain officer (CSCO) is evolving fast, a panel of women executives said in a keynote session February 21, 2023, at the Retail Industry leaders Assoc. (RILA)’s annual conference.
One of the top takeaways from that change is that “you have to own your story”—CSCOs need to share proof of their accomplishments throughout their companies to help dispel the lingering reputation of supply chain as a cost center or a frequent point of failure, Roxanne Flanagan, SVP and chief supply chain officer for Walgreens, said.
Despite that need, many executives have struggled to communicate their wins, since some of their teams lacked a “coming out of COVID plan” at the same time they began to face economic headwinds such as rising inflation and labor shortages, Flanagan said in the session at the LINK2023 show in Orlando.
One solution for that challenge has been the rising profile of women in logistics. Whereas young female leaders in past years often lacked mentors and role models to guide them into the ranks of directors and vice presidents, that is swiftly shifting, according to Rebecca Wlazlo, SVP for supply chain at Crate & Barrel.
Today, increasing numbers of companies have seen how diverse teams of leaders produce better business results, said panelist Lori Bossmann, EVP and chief supply chain officer for Ace Hardware. In fact, those teams tend to generate not only a fuller representation of genders, but also a wider diversity of thought, experience, and backgrounds, Elizabeth Hemann, retail head of sales at Maersk, said on the “Supply Chain Leadership Insights” panel.
Asked how corporate cultures and male allies can help to support and grow such teams, the panelists said that men can simply support their female colleagues in the same way they do for their male coworkers; offer help when it’s needed, be an advocate for them, and bring up their names for new roles when jobs open up.