Women are the largest pool of untapped talent for the supply chain. They represent nearly half of the total U.S. labor force, and earn more than half of the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the U.S. However, they make up less than a third of the workforce in manufacturing. The challenge is to determine how companies can recruit, and retain, female employees.


“Minding the Manufacturing Gender Gap: How manufacturers can get their fair share of talented women,” a recent report completed by APICS Supply Chain Council, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, compiles feedback from more than 600 women across manufacturing roles. One of the responses that most stood out for me, is that 26 percent of the respondents rated their companies’ retention efforts as poor or very poor when it comes to retaining female employees.


With that number in mind, I was interested to read about two initiatives targeting women in technology and the supply chain. The first, Women of Color in Tech, now offers free stock photos that can be used to make it easier for women of color to picture themselves as software engineers, IT analysts and infosecurity professionals, reports an article that ran in the Chicago Tribune.


“When we were creating our website, I noticed that there were few stock images of women of color in professional and technical settings,” says group co-founder Christina Morillo in the article. “So I decided that we should hold a photoshoot made up of women of color who actually work in the tech industry, with the idea that people could use these images in all of their materials. We didn’t want people to experience the same frustration we faced.”


The group held the photoshoot, and has released a set of 60 photos featuring women of—as they note—different styles, sizes and skin colors. The women are featured in technology office settings, working at computers, collaborating in teams and reading.


“Our ask? That you use these photos to show a different representation of all women in tech,” the group wrote in a blog post, the Tribune article reports.


Co-founder Stephanie Morillo, who is not related to Christina, says “The photos are general enough that they work well across a number of industries and can represent people having an interview, a meeting or a brainstorming session every bit as they can about tech education and pair programming.”


Although it isn’t new, I was interested to recently read about an initiative at Manhattan Associates, called Women’s Initiative Network (WIN). Originally started as part of Manhattan’s PRISM program focusing on diversity and inclusion, WIN fosters a work environment and culture that supports the company’s talented women in achieving their professional goals, says Connie Taylor, a Manhattan vice president of R&D and one of the program’s executive sponsors in the U.S.


“If you look at our industry, historically it’s been a fairly male-dominated field, particularly within areas like warehouse management and software development,” says Taylor. “We launched WIN 18 months ago to provide a forum for women working at Manhattan to network and learn from one another. Plus, the initiative will help us recruit talented, in-demand women.”


WIN holds various events throughout the year, such as leadership training sessions, informal meetings to watch and discuss TED talks or more structured panels with invited speakers, Taylor explains. In Atlanta, the group also partners with community organizations and has hosted mentorship days, where high school girls shadowed some Manhattan female employees. WIN has also been a big part of Manhattan’s yearly conference, Momentum, and this an entire track was dedicated to the topic of women in supply chain, Taylor says.


I am intrigued by the Women of Color in Tech initiative, and look forward to finding out how often the stock photos are used. I also am interested in reading more about the support WIN offers female employees at Manhattan Associates, as well as providing mentorship for high school girls interested in supply chain careers.


Does your company have a program like WIN? If so, how do you think it helps women?