Growing Greater Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Supply Chains

Resolving the racial and cultural inequities experienced in our country is something that must be addressed across all parts of society. That includes the workplace.

By Christian Dow

Resolving the racial and cultural inequities experienced in our country is something that must be addressed across all parts of society. That includes the workplace. Not only is it critical for creating equal opportunity for all, but also improving employee diversity, equity and inclusion offers numerous benefits to corporations with the vision and willingness to embrace different points of view.

In addition to being the right thing to do, expanding diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace can have a significant positive impact on the bottom line. With the majority of supply chain leaders surveyed for the MHI 2021 Annual Industry Report—released in April at ProMatDX—reporting that hiring and retaining qualified workers at all levels is an ongoing challenge, building a workforce from a much broader and deeper talent pool will help resolve that issue. Further, leveraging the input and knowledge of a wider range of races, cultures, ethnicities, genders, disabilities and other disadvantaged groups can help a company gain a significant competitive advantage when developing new product offerings, go-to-market strategies and a larger customer base.

In recognition of both the benefits of and the need to be more intentional in this area, MHI’s Board of Directors formed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. This group has been tasked with identifying opportunities and recommending short- and long-term strategies to cultivate investment by the material handling business communities, which will lead to more diverse, equitable and inclusive opportunities for all.

The committee is made up of member company representatives and chaired by Robert Salone, industry segment manager at MHI member Lenze Americas, who is African American.

“When one looks around the material handling and supply chain industry, you don’t see a lot of diversity,” said Salone. “I believe companies—and their leadership—are starting to recognize the need to become more proactive toward attracting and hiring a more diverse workforce. But, in many instances, those entities aren’t sure how to begin the process of engaging those communities or what the messaging should be to reach them.”

For that reason, the DEI Committee has already formed partnerships with Women in Manufacturing (WiM) and the Diverse Manufacturing Supply Chain Alliance (DMSCA); released a video on MHI.view entitled “Using Diversity as Your Differentiator;” hosted a webinar on implicit bias; and released a podcast on MHI.cast featuring Dr. Randy Bradley from the University of Tennessee and Annette Danek-Akey of Penguin Random House discussing “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Supply Chains.” The committee is also backing additional training of MHI personnel on how to lead a workplace culture shift, has undertaken an industry survey to establish a baseline of DEI progress, and sponsored the ProMatDX Women in Industry keynote and diversity and inclusion networking sessions.

Future initiatives aim to raise awareness of MHI’s scholarship opportunities, including those from the Material Handling Education Foundation, Inc. (MHEFI), among faculty and students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

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