MHI, the trade association for materials handling, logistics and supply chain professionals, will feature a forum dedicated to women in the supply chain at its annual conference, MODEX, this spring.
Called “It’s Not Just for the Guys Anymore,” the panel discussion on April 5 will focus on the challenges women face working in the supply chain field, which has historically been male-dominated. The discussion is part of a number of panels that will be held at the MHI event in Atlanta that day centered on talent, the workforce and bringing diversity to the supply chain.
Devon Birch, MHI’s director of membership, said the association had been receiving a lot of feedback from industry professionals and board members about the growing challenge of recruiting and retaining talent in the workforce. A recent roundtable with the MHI advisory board, which is made of representatives from companies that are association members, identified the talent recruitment and retainment as the No. 1 challenge in the materials handling, logistics and supply chain field, Birch said.
“It’s definitely an issue we are hearing from all of our members and it’s something we feel we needed to address,” she said.
More women are entering the field than before. It’s a shift in a number of industries. But the challenge of retaining female and minority talent in the workforce remains, as does making sure those members of the workforce reach leadership positions. This is an issue MHI has identified and wants to be proactive about, Birch said.
“They see this as an issue and they want to get ahead of it,” Birch said. “I think that is exciting.”
It may also help motivate women to stay in the industry and grow to executive or other leadership positions within their supply chain organization.
The goal of the women in the supply chain-focused forum at MODEX aims to connect young professionals, especially women and minorities, with their peers and hear from female leaders or “pioneers” who have experience in the industry, Birch said. It’s also an opportunity for supply chain executives to learn how to attract and retain a more diverse workforce.
Nancy Niz, executive director of Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management and Education (AWESOME) will moderate the panel discussion. Panelists include Simone Wakefield, of NERAK, Michelle Livingstone, of Home Depot and Diane Garforth, of David’s Bridal.