Esther Kestenbaum Prozan is a Voice for Women in Ecommerce and Supply Chain Industries
A recent Gartner survey found that women comprise 41% of the supply chain workforce, but make up only 15% of executive level roles in that industry. Lack of career opportunities is the top reason that midcareer women leave a supply chain organization or provider, and 54% of survey respondents said that retaining midcareer women is an increasing challenge. The second-most selected option on the survey for reasons women leave a supply chain business was development opportunities.
Esther Kestenbaum Prozan is out to change that. In a recent article for Thrive Global as part of their “Why We Need More Women Founders” series, she was interviewed by Jerome Knyszewski, CEO of HeavyShift. The interview focused on an EoY 2019 Diversity Report, which revealed that only about 20% of funded companies have female founders. When asked her opinion about what is holding women back, Esther boiled it down to two things: access and bandwidth.
“Women have far fewer opportunities to interact with the sources of social and financial capital that ultimately lead to becoming a founder.” Regarding bandwidth, “founding a company is demanding on time and focus, so until a more equal distribution of home and childcare tasks becomes more normative, we will continue to see women hampered by bandwidth issues leading to unequal representation among founders.”
Esther was encouraged, however, by the number of female founders she has interacted with at Ruby Has Fulfillment. “At our company, we have a front row seat to the day-to-day workings of hundreds of innovative direct-to-consumer brands. It is heartening to see so many great female founders and to be part of their journey.”
Esther offered several reasons why women may be predisposed to succeed in the direct-to-consumer world. These reasons include the fact that throughout history, “she” has always been the consumer, or as Esther puts it, “chief procurement officer” for the household. That makes women naturally more sensitive to features, form, design, and functionality. And THAT substantively informs the quality of the products being produced today by female-led brands.
Moreover, in an unequal world, Esther believes that having your own brand is an equalizer. “While full inclusiveness and gender equality in the workplace is still a work in progress, there is freedom in forging one’s own path. Direct-to-consumer is a great equalizer because great products, thoughtfully marketed straight to buyers, can leapfrog the various biased gatekeepers that can traditionally stall advancement for a product entrepreneur.”
Esther was recently chosen to receive Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s 2021 Women in Supply Chain Award. The award honors female supply chain leaders and executives whose accomplishments, mentorship, and examples set a foundation for women in all levels of a company’s supply chain network.
“I feel really fortunate that I work in a field where we get to empower entrepreneurs — I feel that we get to do good while doing well.”