At present, research suggests that the logistics sector still remains a male dominated space despite the rise in numbers of women into the rest of the business world. However, there is a growing number of statistics and trends emerging to prove the true worth of placing greater numbers of women into logistics jobs.
No one doubts the profound role that the logistics sector plays in the global economy, with some 125 million people currently working in the sector around the world. However, women make up just one to two percent of this workforce.
Even in the UK, where the gender imbalance is less dramatic, barely a quarter of the 1.5 million people working in the logistics industry are female according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).
A more female logistics industry is also a healthier one
Of much more urgent significance to the broader logistics sector, however, is the very real improvement that an expansion of the female workforce could help to bring. Several major studies in recent years have indicated that greater numbers of female leaders – including board members, managers and supervisors – are associated with an improvement in business outcomes.
The 2009 Women in Supply Chain report, for instance, found higher levels of productivity, safety and financial returns when women were more prominent in leadership positions. The PwC Transportation report, meanwhile, discovered that companies with the greatest numbers of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 16% in return on sales and by 26% in return on invested capital.
Such findings indicate that embracing gender diversity and inclusion stands to deliver a much more fundamental benefit to logistics organisations than merely the opportunity to demonstrate social responsibility.
The efforts to place more women in logistics jobs
Even in the face of such strong evidence of the performance improvements that the employment of greater numbers of women in logistics jobs stands to bring, the persistent reputation of the transport and logistics industry as a ‘non-traditional’ one for women, with few relevant career opportunities, has hampered efforts to bolster gender diversity.
This does not need to be the case. Logistics jobs in the 21st century often amount to much more than ‘moving and lifting’, with business development and customer-facing personnel required alongside the more stereotypically expected drivers and warehouse operatives. Furthermore, logistics impacts upon every one of the world’s industries and business sectors, ranging from life sciences, fashion and retail to technology, transport and construction.
Advances in technology such as hydraulic lifting equipment and automatic gearboxes, together with such trends as the retirements of existing workers, higher levels of education and better technical training among the sector’s new entrants also lend themselves to a boost in the number of women represented in this for-so-long male-dominated area of the economy.