Women in supply chain are gaining momentum in narrowing the gender gap. They now make up 41% of the supply chain workforce, an almost 40% increase from the year prior. Post-pandemic dynamics and more awareness of supply chains are empowering progress in what was once an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry. According to Gartner, that trend is only increasing. More women are rejoining the supply chain post-pandemic and making gains in the upper echelons in roles as CSCOs, SVPs, EVPs, and CPOs. Women supply chain leaders currently comprise 26% of these roles, a historical 7% annual leap.
Women have increased their presence in supply chain since the start of the decade, backed by business gender equality goals and DEI initiatives. Recent and ongoing disruptions have propelled the need for expanding the strategic logistics workforce with new supply chain programs and strategic roles with fresh opportunities for industry professionals. Gartner’s study shares that having more female representation in the supply chain leadership suite empowers other women to rise to executive leadership.
At Let’s Talk Supply Chain, we’re dedicated to rallying behind women in supply chain to shatter glass ceilings and gender norms across global transportation, manufacturing, and logistics industries. And everyone should because women in supply chain fuel greater agility, growth, and business performance. The numbers show that women in supply chain proactively collaborate and bring teams together on initiatives to support better outcomes. These female supply chain leaders are breaking boldly outside of the box, and it’s inspiring. These stories motivate other women in supply chain to break the mold and move forward. That’s why we highlight their breakthrough achievements and the experiences behind them every month.
Let’s Talk Supply Chain’s Women in Supply Chain program, and these blogs about their experiences educate business leaders on the importance of investing in female talent and providing room for advancement. Elevating women in supply chain across the ranks propels higher revenue and ROI. More than half of businesses committed to gender equity and diversity have 50% higher profits and 61% more revenue growth than competitors with less female representation in leadership. Over 70% of these organizations that provide women with more opportunities rank the highest in customer satisfaction.
Warfare across the globe, inflation, and an ongoing talent shortage propel supply chain disruptions. Diversity is required to remain competitive in business.
Let’s Talk Supply Chain is dedicated to closing the remaining supply-chain gender gap across the ranks, including leadership, with more visibility for women supply chain and logistics leaders making purposeful movement forward in their careers and the industry. Let’s Talk Supply Chain explores professional roadblocks women leaders continually learn to navigate, how they support each other, and how they transform business.
This month, we’re proud to highlight Jennifer Karpus-Romain, Executive Director at the Transportation Marketing & Sales Association (TMSA), an organization dedicated to empowering the advancement of commercial freight and transportation professionals. Jennifer boasts a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Ohio University and a Master of Business Administration from Capella University. In addition to her notable achievements as a thought leader and proponent of other women in supply chain, Jennifer is the Vice President of the Board for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. She has served as a volunteer mentor for women in STEM.
1. Where did your supply chain journey start?
I started as a local newspaper community reporter and explored different roles and industries. I’ve worked in the industrial space as a journalist and a marketer. I love this space because there are endless stories and initiatives to share, often outside the mainstream media or viewpoint. As the Executive Director of the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association, I put my experience to work for members and the industry. I am constantly finding ways to support them in building a brand and reaching their already-inundated target audience.
2. Have supply chain mentors helped your professional momentum?
I’ve never had a formal mentor, but I have had people who have helped shape me professionally. When I was a reporter, my online manager showed me so much about digital marketing, Google Analytics, social media, etc. I never thought I would be anything but a journalist. I still love reporting on the side, but that web manager opened my eyes to marketing, and it’s become such a passion.
3. What’s your experience working in a male-dominated industry?
My ability to organize, drive initiatives, and meet deadlines increased my workload and level of responsibility without recognition or advancement. I was doing more and more work while needing to keep track of others.
I’ve had men treat me poorly or “less than” because I am a woman. However, in each situation, there was a balance because my other male counterparts called out these behaviors as unacceptable. I stood my ground and found instead of tolerating inappropriate behavior.
4. When did you find your voice in your supply chain career?
There were a few moments that brought out my voice. The first was when I worked with individuals who undervalued my work and made me question my own abilities. I wanted to work even harder to prove myself, and I put in the time, but it didn’t take me anywhere. I promised myself that I would drain every learning opportunity I could from that role, and when I moved on, I wouldn’t accept the same treatment.
After leaving that job, it was easier to identify the type of colleagues and work environment. It’s been a progression in finding my voice.
5. What advice do you have for women in supply chain and others looking to start a career in the industry?
Open your eyes to all possibilities. As a more creative person, I never thought about a career in supply chain or any other industrial space, but it’s where I found my calling. I’ve jumped from journalism to marketing to running TMSA—I would have never guessed my ultimate career path. I always wanted to prepare for the next step, whatever it was. Don’t be afraid to take on roles that scare you. Take the leap.
6. Who do you admire in the supply chain industry?
I admire many industry professionals. Kristy Knichel is the first one who comes to mind. She is an absolute powerhouse. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Kristy and learning from her.
I’d be remiss not to mention my TMSA Board of Directors, who have greatly supported me. I respect how much they embraced the new leadership change and supported me through my transition from board member to Executive Director. I couldn’t appreciate these colleagues more, including Mark Derks, Tom Collins, Jill Schmieg, Holly LaBoda, Beth Malik, Courtney Keenan, David Hoppens, Blythe Brumleve, and many more.
7. What have you learned so far, and what’s next on your supply chain journey?
I’ve struggled with a serious case of imposter syndrome for years and tend to put my head down and do the work. I’m proud reflecting on what I’ve accomplished with TMSA over the past two years. I’ve learned that I am more capable than I thought. I try to give myself the space to savor the achievements now in a way I didn’t previously before moving on to the next challenge. I’m excited to continue making an impact for TMSA and our members across the Freight and Transportation communities.
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Meet Our Sponsors
GoFreight is proud to sponsor the Women in Supply Chain™ blog and podcast series, recognizing women’s vital role in the industry and the need to highlight their contributions and experiences. We are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the supply chain field and are honored to support initiatives that empower and inspire women in their professional journeys.
Food Logistics and Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s Women in Supply Chain award, sponsored by Let’s Talk Supply Chain podcast and Blended Pledge project, honors female supply chain leaders and executives whose accomplishments, mentorship, and examples set a foundation for women in all levels of a company’s supply chain network.
About the Author
Naomi Sylvian is a content marketing leader with more than 17 years of experience, and the editor of Let’s Talk Supply Chain™’s Women in supply chain™ series. Her works have appeared on Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider, The Muse, and Yahoo, and have been mentioned by The New York Times Online. Naomi mentors at-risk teens to fight recidivism and contribute on a local level, working with the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. Subscribe to her LinkedIn newsletter, The Chain Explained, for all things Supply Chain broken down with as many pop-culture references as possible, or view her marketing portfolio online.