‘Feminization of the Supply Chain’: Improving the diversity of thinking

There was a high level of interest in the ‘Feminization of the Supply Chain’ event among female supply chain leaders. On 7 and 8 March, around 35 women from various corners of Europe gathered together at Liberty Global Europe in Amsterdam to discuss their discipline and the diversity (or lack thereof) within their organizations.

Click here to see the pictures of the event>>

Countless studies demonstrate that companies which have more diversity also have more success. But rather than being due to equality and equal opportunities for everyone, that success is down to people from different cultures and different backgrounds with different personalities – and those differences affect how they think. By bringing together different types of thinkers in the workplace, companies can stimulate creativity and insight and boost their efficiency.

During the event – which, fittingly, was held on International Women’s Day – one of the topics addressed was whether it is necessary to have a quota for women in management positions. “Actually, I don’t even want to talk about this anymore. I simply have a different mindset,” commented one of the delegates, and others agreed with her. However, a quota is necessary as long as not everyone shares that same mindset.

Lucy Harding from Odgers Berndtson explained her approach as a headhunter and she held a mirror up to the audience, saying that it is also a result of women’s own attitudes. “Women have the habit of continually making apologies for their skills, abilities and career. How often do we hear them say things like “I’ve been lucky to get this opportunity,” or “I couldn’t have reached this position without help”? Women always credit others for their success, yet countless men in the same kinds of positions have also been given similar breaks.”


Harding also utilized Harvey Coleman’s PIE model, which identifies three key elements in career success. The ‘p’ for ‘performance’, i.e. the quality of your work and the results you achieve, accounts for just ten percent. 30 percent of your success is down to your ‘image’, or in other words what other people think of you. That means that the lion’s share is the result of ‘exposure’, i.e. who knows about you and what you do. “So don’t be a Cinderella – hard at work hidden away in the cellar, waiting for someone to come along and take you to the ball.”


Allison Thomas (formerly of PepsiCo) and Marieke Lenstra (Supply Chain Media) zoomed in more closely on the topic of exposure in their mini-workshop on how to create a win-win situation with the media. They showed how women are generally portrayed in the media and encouraged the delegates to think about how they themselves want to come across. Ultimately it’s about finding the common denominator between your own personal story, the message that your company wants to convey and what makes an interesting article from the journalist’s perspective.