03 Apr 2024

DE&I in Supply Chains: The Key to Unlocking Success

Being the foundational values for any organization, the DE&I principles represent the necessity and, more importantly, the responsibility the modern supply chain workplace has cut out for them.

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A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.

The quote is a pearl of wisdom orated by the head of one of the biggest conglomerates ever known to humankind. We’re talking about Sundar Pichai, and it’s no guesswork to know which company he’s handling reins for (It’s Google if you need to know!). Irrespective of the generational leaders and decades they highlighted throughout the movement they started, DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) has always been a voiced sentiment. From the days of freeing a country from their respective colonial masters to much more contemporary themes of creating equal platforms at the workplace, the conversation about DE&I has always been timely and, to some extent, necessary.

This holds more true in an industry like supply chain, where 80% of the workforce consists of men. While efforts have been made to ensure the hiring of more diverse talents, we still have a long way to go to ensure parity for people to work in the value chain sector, irrespective of their background. So, let’s start with the all-important topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion, which are the keys to unlocking success.

Table of Contents

What is DE&I and Why Does it Matter in Your Supply Chain?

What exactly is DE&I?

When it comes to businesses and their working infrastructure, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, or DE&I, refers to an organization's responsibility to create an equal platform for all of its current and future employees in terms of opportunities, prospects, and privileges. Here’s what each term reflects in the context of an enterprise.

Image illustrating the meaning of DE&I

Diversity: Diversity entails that personnel with different characteristics, ethnicities, races, and genders, as well as varied orientations, religious beliefs, abilities, economic backgrounds, appearance, language, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, are acceptable in a workplace.

Equity: This highlights fair treatment, access to privileges, opportunities, resources, and advancement for all employees of an organization while ensuring justice and fairness throughout their tenure.

Inclusion: Creating a safe space where everyone feels respected, supported, and valued for what they bring to the organization. A platform where all ideas are heard, and constructive actions are embraced irrespective of differences.

Why does DE&I matter in the supply chain?

When an investment and conscious effort is made to level up a company on the grounds of diversity, equality, and inclusion, your brand receives a positive boost that'll benefit it immensely.

Image illustrating the importance of DE&I in the Supply Chain

Competitive Advantage: Instilling your operation with DE&I virtues significantly boosts your organization's brand value. This competitive advantage attracts the best talent available. On the operations front, new suppliers look to associate themselves with a company that prioritizes ethical working practices. This results in better scalability and optimized costs.

Innovative R&D: When an enterprise has a pool of diverse minds, leadership always has an open avenue to innovative ideas that contribute immensely to the research and development of a company’s products and services.

Customers’ Affiliation: A brand’s efforts to improve its workplace are directly proportional to customer sentiments it will eventually garner. A user base attaches itself to a conglomerate that highlights its active investments in DE&I and the transparency with which it goes about its business.

Why is DE&I Disclosure Essential in the Supply Chain Industry?

As much as it is the need of the hour, the supply chain industry has categorically been a men’s field owing to its history. Breaking this vapid notion requires active efforts, and while there have been promising signs, there’s still a lot to uncover. This objective first starts with transparency and the disclosure of behind-the-scenes efforts.

Here are the pointers on why it benefits management to disclose their DE&I practices.

  • Accountability: When a company voices its work culture, it showcases that leadership fosters accountability in the process it has adopted. It instills confidence in the employees and those looking to join the organization.
  • Investors Priority: When partnering with a company, investors look at how active the management is regarding social responsibilities and how inclusive they are regarding hiring. If the metrics are in check, it bodes well for an organization to attract some good financial aid.
  • Attracts the Best Talent: Inclusivity goes beyond elevating a brand. It also persuades the best talent available to work for your company, and that is a big virtue that not many can boast of.

What are the challenges of implementing DE&I in Supply Chains?

Like with any policy or ideology, a theory finds itself slightly short on its application owing to the challenges there are.

Here’s a snippet of bottlenecks that might make implementation of DE&I an uphill task.

Image illustrating the challenges of implementing DE&I in Supply Chains
  • Measurement and Monitoring: Knowing how successful a DE&I initiative has been in a supply chain can be complex. It is essential for companies to set up clear metrics that are in line with their actual ground performance. Lack of it can result in active action plans that will continue to yield middling results.
  • Cost: DE&I initiatives require constant outreach in the form of development programs, internal training sessions, and events. So, in a few cases, primarily for companies that have started anew, bearing the financial cost for DE&I might be secondary to their scalability prospects.
  • Blind Spots: In some countries, constitutional law can sometimes act as a barrier to implementing DE&I. For example, many nations still haven’t adequately outlined their stand on the LGBTQ+ community. Owing to such blind spots, leaders can sometimes find it hard to deconstruct the law's understanding of their diversity, equity, and inclusion principles.
  • Internal Biases: There can be a case when companies might find it hard to impart knowledge about the various communities that can work in a setup to their current employees. While the majority is open to acceptance, there can be a situation where a few might not be flexible. Such scenarios create biases that impact the workplace environment.
  • Acknowledging Importance: More often than not DE&I as a subject is treated as necessary only when a global issue makes it relevant all over again. It is at times like these when the lessons imparted for diversity, equity, and inclusivity are considered urgent and imperative. For a well-rounded approach, management should be made aware that the concept of DE&I is a constant process and not one driven by momentary needs.

A look at recent DE&I trends

In a recent survey conducted on the APAC region's DE&I trends in the supply chain industry, some notable findings represent the extent to which positive change has been witnessed.

👉 77% of companies in the Asia-Pacific region are making efforts to set overall goals for representation in their hiring strategy. This implies that organizations will now review their hiring process to include all demographics towards building a diverse talent pool and implementing inclusive recruitment practices.

👉 64% of enterprises have now onboarded talent partners, groups, job boards, or charities to fast-track their objectives of hiring diverse talent. With the increased budget allocated to the purpose, conglomerates are confident of achieving their DE&I goals more efficiently.

👉 56% of companies are making more fine-tuned efforts to relay accessible job descriptions or a dedicated website for people of all backgrounds to apply. This action promises more transparency and an upgrade to the efficiency of hiring diverse talent across functions.

DE&I Initiatives at 3SC

In our quest to build a workplace that is inclusive of all the personnel and their ideas, 3SC has always shown proactivity to instill an equal platform that brings together the brightest individuals irrespective of their societal background, orientation, race, color, gender and make them part of the community where the skillset is the only barometer. As a member of the Global DEI Alliance, 3SC as an enterprise prides itself on providing a safe space for ideas while providing the resources for every individual growth with equity intact. Throughout our multinational presence, we harbor our principles in practice with much aplomb.

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