It’s not simply about hiring more women into logistics, but making improvements to all aspects of the industry culture and eventually shifting the mindset away from logistics being a man’s job
The power of high heels in logistics – By Katie Kinraid
Iconic movie star Marilyn Monroe once said, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” Indeed, across many industries, we are starting to see the rise in female executives taking up leadership positions.
From finance to retail, construction to supply chain, women are playing a bigger role in transforming the perception of industries that have always been predominantly male. The logistics industry is no exception – long been dominated by men, women make up just 14% of full-time workers in the transport, postal and warehousing industry.
Having been in the logistics industry for over 10 years, this is not surprising at all. In fact, most of my bosses have been male, and there are very few females sitting across the table from me during meetings. People have asked me why this is the case, and I think a lot of it boils down to perception.
There is no doubt that the logistics sector has traditionally been associated with physical work and is fitting for masculine roles such as lifting, moving, driving and operating machines. These are not roles women would immediately or naturally gravitate to when it comes to deciding their career path. There is also a lack of focus on the mentoring and development of women to help them build a career path within what is a traditionally masculine industry.
However, with new and emerging technologies introduced within the logistics space, many traditional manual roles are now automated through artificial intelligence or robotics. While this shows that the industry is changing in terms of digital transformation, it also signifies a shift in perception of the industry because women now have lower barriers of entry to set foot in logistics.
Fresh thinkersAs the logistics industry enters a new era of unprecedented change, with digitisation taking the lead and reshaping the sector as a whole, there is a need for fresh thinkers to help logistics companies transform and deal with new sets of challenges. Regardless of gender, the logistics industry needs problem-solvers and innovative minds to help propel it forward.
Critically, it’s not simply about hiring more women into logistics, but making improvements to all aspects of the industry culture and eventually shifting the mindset away from logistics being a man’s job. Be it men or women, both gender play very important roles in driving productivity, bringing innovation to the table, and helping logistics companies approach challenges with renewed enthusiasm.
For that to happen, it takes the entire industry to acknowledge that bringing diversity into the workplace is important. It takes the responsibility of many parties, in particular leaders in senior positions, to change an organisation’s culture to include an agenda that promotes women in logistics.
Changing the status quoTo begin with, the industry needs to make women visible by promoting existing women to senior roles, or roles beyond traditional and perceived female roles, so that it sends a strong message top down to women who find it hard to craft a career path forward.
That said, in order for that to happen, women also need to constantly challenge themselves to change the status quo and to close the gender gap within the industry. Undoubtedly, it takes strong action by men to actually listen and understand gender equality, and to help make them advocates and agents of change, where men can take action through being a ‘sponsor’ or mentors of women they see have the potential to develop the business.
For women, it is critical that we step out of our comfort zone in an industry that is experiencing lots of change and disruptions. I believe it takes courage for women to strive in an environment dominated by men.
Support and encourageHave I rightly or wrongly been careful when it comes to the way I act or engage at work simply because I am surrounded by more men? The answer is yes. However, instead of limiting ourselves to our gender, we should focus on the qualities we bring to the table and be proud of the role we can play.
It is important that we support and encourage each other, and continue to challenge ourselves. In today’s environment, we know that the playing field is not level. We need to be empowered and be confident in our abilities and skill sets. We need to focus on what we can do, not on what we can’t do.
Don’t let a male-dominated industry put you off pursuing a career in an industry that would benefit hugely from the input of more women.
Katie Kinraid is the general manager, Asia Pacific, at BluJay Solutions, a role in which she oversees customer adoption and growth in the Asia Pacific region