More than 500 qualified respondents to the 34th Annual Salary Survey reveal that their salaries moved up only incrementally last year, despite them being tasked to do more and with fewer resources.

“While our results indicate that compensation did not improve by the same margins as last year, we’re able to discern some unusual shifts in the career path, resulting in taking on more responsibilities,” says Judd Aschenbrand, research director at Peerless Research Group (PRG), the Framingham, Mass.-based author of the report. “We see that 64% report a small bump up in salary, but at the same time, 77% reported that their job functions had increased.”

This year’s survey again draws the most feedback from logistics managers who have been climbing the executive ladder for some time. The youngest age category is 35 years old or younger, with 56% aged 45 years old to 64 years old, pointing out that it often takes more than 20 years to become a leader in the industry.

However, managers are earning good money in their twilight years. The average salary inched up from $113,175 to $114,250 this past year, with the median salary also moving a bit higher, from $90,000 in 2017 to $93,000 in 2018.

Other significant findings include the “gender gap,” with men continuing to earn more than women. Currently, the average for men is $119,490, with women trailing at $80,640. Another thing that has not changed much over the past several years is length of time with one company. Those remaining at their present positions for more than 10 years see steady increases in income, reaching a high average of $120,980.

Respondents reflect

The extent to which managers are tasked with more duties than ever before was also explored in the research. Survey respondents shared anecdotes and real-life stories about their jobs, revealing that responsibilities have indeed broadened considerably.

Online education advantage

The survey revealed that continued online education programs are just as important as social networking and involvement with professional associations for negotiating compensation. In fact, this year’s survey shows that continuing online education had the least number of doubters.

“Online education offers the advantages to students of being self-paced and providing a concrete certificate, where social networking and professional association involvement rely upon faith and intangibles,” says Michael Gravier, associate professor of marketing and supply chain management at Bryant University, Smithfield, R.I.,

He expects online education to not only grow in popularity, but also to have a greater impact on “promotability” and salary growth due to its perceived greater credibility. Meanwhile, he feels that professional certifications may be waning in importance.

“In terms of improving level of pay or job position, the more important legal knowledge and soft skills become, and professional certifications don’t appear on the list at all,” adds Gravier.

Mid-level and lower salaried positions emphasize technical and functional knowledge, according to Gravier. This fact is reinforced by additional findings that professional associations are no longer perceived to have an additional benefit for negotiating compensation over social networking or online education.

“Professional associations and certifications have increasingly become relegated to mid-level and technical roles, a natural consequence of their compliance-based and test-taking approach,” says Gravier. “Yet, it begs the question of how sustainable or relevant they will be in the future without the involvement of top industry leaders.”

Avoiding burnout

The field overall sees more logistics managers reaching the top levels of company leadership, but also sees them being expected to do more, and not always being compensated for the extra effort.

“Many companies are left with a dilemma,” says Tisha Danehl, vice president of Alijon, Chicago. “They’re trying to find the right talent with patience and precision, while also filling the jobs quickly enough to reduce costs lost from open positions. As the New Year gets underway, more companies are trying to figure out how to have a successful hiring program in 2018.”

In order to keep employees up to speed with new job duties, it’s important that employers have on-the-job training programs for everyone, Danehl adds. Not only will this elevate the quality of work being done within the organization, but also regular employee professional development helps with employee retention.

“It’s striking that only 19% of this year’s respondents were women—sadly, we’re seeing the supply chain industry continue to struggle to recruit and retain top female talent at every level,” says Danehl. “This in part comes down to a variety of factors. For one, the supply chain industry has been traditionally thought of as more of a manual labor job, but the career path is becoming more white collar as time goes on.”

Additionally, says Danehl, men are frequently in positions of power within organizations, and an unconscious bias in favor of men still exists. However, if companies can start looking to women earlier—from the first years of college—then the number of women entering the industry can dramatically increase.

“The industry needs to look at solutions that fit for the long-term to ensure that in 15 years, when this survey is done, there will be a more balanced representation,” says Danehl.

Uneven compensation

The difference in the average salary between men and women in the field is “disappointing,” but hardly a lost cause, says Rosemary Coates, executive director of the Reshoring Institute, San Jose, Calif., and president of Blue Silk Consulting, Los Gatos, Calif. In fact, part of the pay disparity is due to a needed underlying shift in the industry.

“Fortunately, many companies are more aware of the gender shortcomings, and they’re doing more to address the issue,” says Coates. “For companies seeking to be proactive on fixing the gender gap, I strongly recommend tapping one of the talented women within your company to get their help in formulating a plan that will attract more women to the organization. This should include promoting flexible working hours for young mothers along with maternity leave.”

In 2016, Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management & Education (AWESOME), Des Plaines, Ill., and Gartner, Stamford, Conn., set out to establish a baseline with retail and manufacturing companies. In 2017, the goal of the survey was to assess progress, as well as to collect key data on goals and initiatives, some of which are yielding benefits, some not.

“This year’s survey was expanded to include companies that provide logistics services integral to supply chain, such as third-party transportation and logistics, consulting and technology providers,” says Dana Stiffler, vice president of research, Gartner. “Our findings should reflect greater awareness for the need to make a difference and gain a competitive advantage by improving compensation and other benefits.”