Community. For some women working in food and drink, this wasn’t a word that regularly sprang up in their lexicon. However, as questions of diversity within the workforce have arisen in all areas of the industry, women in the supply chain have found a place to share their thoughts and feelings in the shape of a new online forum.
The brainchild of Beth Morgan, Boom! offers a curated and regularly updated community of content, including video interviews, webinars and articles on topics relevant to the supply chain and the roles that women play in it. A social media element is also built into the site, allowing users to reach out to each other to discuss pressing issues or create connections that would not have been possible without the help of the site.
“It’s this idea of bringing people together so that they can share their experiences,” Morgan explains. “It’s a pretty random coming-together of people, similar to what you might get if you were going to a conference and were in the reception area having a coffee. As you start talking, you make connections.
“The reason I wanted to do this was because some people in our communities might not always get to go to conferences or might be a bit earlier on in their career. So, we give them a forum where they can have a similar experience of meeting people from other companies. As it’s online, it means that, in fact, you can meet people from all over the world.”
Creating a global network of women in the supply chain sector opens up a dialogue between members of industry that might never have had the chance to meet in the real world and presents opportunities to share innovative ideas far beyond the site’s original remit.
“It’s not about women coming together to have a moment about how hard being a woman is, it’s more about ‘hey, how can we get together and share experiences in a really positive way?’,” Morgan explains.
Indeed, instead of using the forum as a place to vent their frustrations, women are coming together to share tips and tricks on how to survive in the supply chain world. Very quickly, Morgan learned that her users were coming to the site to learn new ways to make their businesses operate more efficiently, as much as they were seeking personal support.
This emphasis on bringing together women in the supply chain has, by extension, brought many different industries together. As well as members of the food and drink industry, the forum attracts people from retail, manufacturing and logistics – something Morgan planned from the start.
“In terms of the breadth of what we’re doing, from the beginning we’ve tried not to focus just on one industry sector or perhaps even just on one geography,” she adds. “That might have been a simpler thing to do, but the benefits of bringing together women from multiple areas allows people to learn from each other. If you work at Unilever, then you might be able to learn a bit from someone at Mondelēz and make new connections.
“While I hate the term, it’s about transferable learning – things you can learn from industries outside your immediate environment. You might say, ‘hey how about connecting with somebody in pharmaceuticals?’ or ‘hey, I would like to make a move from high-tech into the food and drink sector, who can I find in the network who can help me navigate that path forward?’”
Although it only launched in September this year, Morgan has already identified areas in which to expand and enhance Boom!.
“Every day is a learning opportunity, but it is still obviously early days in terms of what we’re doing and I’m loving it,” she enthuses. “It’s just so exciting when the response to what we’re doing seems to be positive – people are posting questions, they’re replying to questions and supporting each other. That is exactly what I had envisioned.
“Given the trajectory we’re on, I think 2020 will be all about growing our core community and, maybe in the future, there will be physical events. But right now, we’re focusing on making that online experience really good and creating a really valuable resource for people to learn from, get support from, then also contribute to.”
Despite the focus on women in the supply chain, men play an important role in Boom!’s operation. From men being on the board of directors to male speakers for webinars and case studies, Beth wants the forum to start a systemic change in different supply chains’ views on diversity.
“Men are – and want to be – part of that solution,” Morgan explains. “Either it’s men wanting to understand how best to bring more women into their businesses or companies wanting to know the things they need to put in place to help women thrive, because there are lots of change happening.
“This isn’t just by women for women, it’s about the much bigger picture where men and women are part of the solution moving forward and, ultimately, everyone wins. That’s the vision.”
Boom! members: 300 individual members from 50 companies across 22 countries and growing.
Food companies on the board: Unilever, Mondelēz, Hershey.
Founder and chief executive: Beth Morgan
CV: Starting out as an industry analyst, Morgan broke away from
her role at research and advisory firm Gartner in 2018 to become
a performance coach under her own steam. From there, she identified a gap in the market for a forum dedicated to women in
the supply chain.
Hobbies and interests: “We live in the countryside, so we spend a lot of time walking and enjoying country pubs and so on. I also have a horse and he takes up a fair amount of my spare time.”