Diversity as a driver of change

Welcome to this Proco Group report, ‘Diversity as a Driver for Change’, in which we are proud to share some of the latest thinking on the links between employing a diverse workforce and driving innovation and change in the supply chain.

We are delighted to be publishing this paper to coincide with International Women’s Day, which is a global celebration on which we are keen to have our voices heard at Proco Group. Last year we took the opportunity to reach out to scores of female supply chain leaders working in global corporations, and we were fascinated to hear their insights about the issues that they face – such as a lack of female role models in the industry, and even blatant discriminatory behaviour.

This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress, and we are once again reaching out to our senior-level contacts in supply chain around the world, this time to explore the links they see between diversifying their talent pools and pressing their businesses forward. Today there is a wealth of research out there – some of which we have included over the following pages – to illustrate the links between diverse management teams and better business outcomes.

At a time when fostering a culture of innovation in supply chain management is so critical to success, it is hard to deny that this industry needs to be looking at this research and taking it seriously.

In the decade since I launched Proco, it has become more and more apparent that the only way to truly future-proof your supply chain is to tap into the huge variety of talent available around the world and build a culture of diversity and inclusion. A commitment to diversity is a commitment to innovation – after all, as Ezra Pound, the great American poet, said at the start of the last century, ‘When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary’. More than 100 years on, we’d rather he’d said people, rather than men, but his is nevertheless a powerful statement about the need for diverse teams if you want to drive change and come up with new ideas.

At Proco, we are passionate about diversity, and we are proud to work with some of the organisations at the very cutting edge of current thinking. Changing the face of your workforce cannot happen overnight, but building a business that will endure requires being flexible and smart enough to welcome the entire talent pool.

There are sometimes challenges in identifying that talent, and in attracting, retaining, motivating and developing it, but the rewards on offer to those that get it right are endless. At its most basic level, we see every day how a diverse workforce itself attracts talent, and the power of building a brand in the recruitment market that is associated with diversity and inclusion.

Over the following pages, we have spoken to some of our senior supply chain contacts around the world and asked them about the efforts they are making to foster innovation, to build diverse teams and to avoid the perils of groupthink – which is the tendency towards homogenous viewpoints. They have told us what has worked for them and where they still see challenges, all of which makes for some fascinating reading. You’ll find some instructive case studies, some first steps to driving diversity, and plenty of food for thought.

This conversation is about much more than gender, but International Women’s Day seems like a really appropriate day on which to launch a broader discussion about diversifying our teams and kickstarting innovation across the supply chain. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together in collaboration with our clients. I’d like to thank them all for their help, and we’ll look forward to hearing what you think.

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