Deakin University targets supply chain gap

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Deakin University has today launched a program aimed closing the gender gap in Australia’s multi-billion dollar supply chain industry, asserting fresh talent is needed for growth in meeting an increasingly automated future.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, Deakin are looking to address a workplace gender gap it says exists in some supply chain companies, where less than one in 10 employees are women, and a gender pay gap of 21.8 per cent.

The Victorian university’s Wayfinder: Supply Chain Careers for Women’ initiative is funded by 13 foundation sponsors, including Qube, ARTC, Woolworths, Lion, Toll, Viva Energy, Linx Cargo Care, VICT, DP World, Coca-Cola Amatil, Nestle, Kalari HSE and CC Containers.

Deakin’s director of the Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics Dr Hermione Parsons said a series of luncheons will kick off from today, designed to link company demand for talented female workers with women and girls across the community, and offered the opportunity to hear from inspirational women working in the industry.

“These events form an important part of a three-year project to bring new talent into the supply chain industry,” Dr Parsons said.

“This will be supported by a program of research, new resources to help people better understand the industry and its career opportunities, plus the establishment of Deakin graduate pathways to meet the demand for talented workers.”

Dr Parsons said the supply chain industry was currently experiencing a rapid period of change, with huge technological advances, increasing automation and globalisation of trade.

“New talent and skills are desperately needed, but currently we’re only accessing 50 per cent of the talent.

“Ultimately supply chain has an image problem. We must change how the community sees supply chain and understands its enormous significance to the national economy if we’re going to turnaround a rapidly ageing and male-dominated workforce.”

Dr Parsons said that was hard when most people did not know what ‘supply chain’ actually was, despite more than one million jobs in Australia being tied to supply chain related activities.

“Simply put, a supply chain is everything and everybody involved in bringing a product to a consumer,” she said.

“Supply chains make our modern lives possible. There would be no supplies in our hospitals, food in our supermarkets, or products in our stores if it were not for supply chains that move all of these goods from being just raw materials all the way to the finished products in our hands.”

Atong Atem, recipient of Mecca's mentoring scholarship and her Self Portrait on Mercury
Atong Atem, recipient of Mecca’s mentoring scholarship and her Self Portrait on Mercury

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) 2016-17 reporting data women made up just over a quarter of the transport, postal and warehousing workforce last financial year. Some of the companies supporting the Wayfinder program reported a percentage of women employees in the single figures for 2016-17.

Cosmetics retailer Mecca has also chosen March 8 to launch its M-Power program, aimed at empowering females through education, independence and entrepreneurship. The program provides funding, mentoring and learning opportunities with industry experts.

Meanwhile fashion firm Decjuba will ‘talk to their customers through Instagram’ to reflect on the progress made by the company in tackling gender inequality.

Decjuba’s team is comprised of 99 per cent females, with the retailer looking to use the social media initiative to share insight into the company’s culture and achieving gender parity.

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