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Supply Chain Leaders Identify 16 Steps to “Make Waves” and Advance Women

Heather Sheehan (pictured)
Executive Director, AWESOME
Supply Chain Leaders Identify 16 Steps to “Make Waves” and Advance Women
AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management and Education), an industry-wide organization for senior-level women in the supply chain field, has a released a 16-point agenda for driving change to advance women’s leadership.

According to Heather Sheehan, Executive Director of AWESOME, “Women in supply chain face the challenge of navigating their way to top levels of leadership in an industry traditionally dominated by men. We believe the best intelligence about how to create change can come from those on the ‘front lines.’”

That was the intent of putting 250 of the leading women in the field of supply chain management to work to design a plan to advance women in their profession. At the 2018 AWESOME Symposium, the senior-level women attending took part in a “Making Waves” brainstorming session. What emerged was an Action Agenda of 16 steps individual leaders can take to have the greatest positive impact for women in their companies and for the profession as a whole.

The steps are focused on four areas:
  • Increasing the number of women in top leader roles 
  • Advancing your own career 
  • Increasing the pipeline of women in Supply Chain roles/careers 
  • Engaging men as advocates for change. 
“What we heard from women in our AWESOME community is that they don’t believe change will happen if they just watch and wait,” explained Sheehan. “We understand what has to happen. Now we’re ready to focus on how.”

The ideas in the Action Agenda range from individual leaders not shying away from recognition of their own achievements to providing other women with “stretch” roles that build their skills to having candid conversations with men about unconscious bias.

The incentive to take action was supported by the Women in Supply Chain Survey, a collaboration of AWESOME and Gartner Research. The survey concluded that while the percentage of women at the highest levels of leadership (Chief Supply Chain Officer, EVP, SVP, and Chief Procurement Officer) show a slight improvement, all the other levels (general workforce, first line managers, senior managers and directors, and VP) remain flat.

Dr. Nancy Nix, AWESOME’s Executive Director Emeritus, said, “We know that a strong pipeline is critical for gaining more women leaders in the future, so having a lack of progress at many levels is a major problem.” AWESOME leadership concluded that significant progress will happen only when individuals start “making waves.”

The full Action Agenda is available on