Women in Logistics: Support Matters
Women in logistics need support from their companies to succeed in their careers.
One of my most meaningful career moments happened when I had my first child. I received a promotion and my boss informed me that I would take over my new role when I returned from maternity leave. I saw this as the company’s commitment to me and my career advancement. This support played an important role in my professional growth, but I realize that I am more the exception than the rule in the supply chain sector.
As in many other industries, one reason women leave logistics is the perception that they must make a choice between advancing their careers and embracing the demands of parenthood. This results in a low percentage—14 percent according to a Gartner study—of women striving for and holding executive-level positions, which may conflict with their parental duties. The logistics industry still struggles when it comes to supporting female employees long enough to watch them grow into senior roles.
But there is hope. The same Gartner study finds the number of supply chain companies committed to improving gender diversity increased from 43 percent in 2017 to 50 percent in 2018. As a woman in logistics, I know how crucial a company’s dedication to supporting a woman is to her success.
The most effective gender diversity initiatives start from the top, driven by CEOs, management boards, and investors. Leaders must establish formal goals, then work to meet them. Gartner’s 2018 survey asked women in supply chain, "What is the most important action to recruit and retain women?" The number one recommendation is to change cultural values, leadership orientation, and behaviors.
Companies can start by embracing proven methods such as using gender-neutral language, highlighting flexibility and benefits in job descriptions, and diversifying interview panels.
Planning for Success
Gartner also found that when it comes to advancing women to leadership positions, practicing "integrated pipeline planning" was the top priority. This means a proactive and dedicated process involving recruitment, development, mentorship and sponsorship, rewards and recognition, and succession planning. When a company values its female employees and supports them every step of the way, they are more likely to commit to and succeed in the company.
Company support is important, but the representation and visibility of women in leadership roles is crucial to successfully recruiting and retaining female employees. On average, companies with more women vice presidents have 50 percent or more women in the total supply chain organization. By 2023 the logistics sector expects to see women hold 30 percent of VP positions. The presence of more women at all levels, but especially at leadership levels, improves gender equity and increases talent diversity.
A new perspective
Attracting more women to the logistics sector is a challenge, but change doesn’t happen overnight. Now is the time to push for diversity and gender equality to engage women in logistics, which happens to be my long-term goal. This not only benefits women in general, but all employees, because it brings new perspectives to the table, which ultimately drives value for our customers. We need to share women’s success stories both internally and externally if we want to encourage women to join and stay in this sector.
Representation is powerful because it inspires hope for a future that once seemed impossible. I am proof that this is possible in a company that values talent, dedication, and drive in its female employees.