Historically the logistics, supply chain and manufacturing industries have been comprised of a high proportion of male workers. You only have to attend a logistics or supply chain-oriented trade show and scan the attendees for this to be evident. Over the past 20 plus years, there has been an increasing number of women entering these industries, and they have significantly contributed to the business dynamics, products, and service offerings.
While a more balanced workforce has produced benefits, it also highlights some real issues in the difference in how companies treat men and women in the workplace. The Gender Pay Gap is a clear example of this, and an acknowledged issue across all industries ̶ the supply chain and logistics Industry is no exception. Women are paid, on average, 5.72% less than their male counterparts, and men continue to dominate leadership roles.
Women in leadership
The statistics are encouraging, showing an upward trend; last year saw the highest number on record of women holding senior management roles at 29% globally, and 87% of companies have at least one woman in a senior management role. However, when we focus on supply chain, women account for just 25% of senior managers and directors.
There is more to do. Industry groups such as The Chartered Institute of Logistics (CILT) and Women in Logistics (WIL) have been fundamental in promoting the value of women. The Women in Logistics group welcomes men who wish to be involved and support equality.
Room for improvement
There are some critical areas for improvement that can be made to support women. In my opinion, the following can easily be implemented into company policy and personnel:
Changing cultural values, leadership orientation and behaviours in conjunction with better visibility of current women leaders (and their success stories). Increasing the awareness, presence and visibility of senior women leaders Greater flexibility to allow for parental responsibilities Increased opportunities for sponsorship and mentorship
Balance is the key
At the start of my career, I often felt that I should act differently, more masculine, to be taken seriously. Interestingly, it was a man who spotted this and told me it wasn't necessary. Since then, I have had both male and female mentors who have helped shape my career. Being able to identify with another's challenges and obstacles is significant, and it's here that women have been most encouraging.
Female role models, and the increasing number of women sharing their experiences, challenges, and successes, have been and continue to be motivational and inspiring. The challenge of working and being a parent is rarely discussed professionally. I am very fortunate to work for a company that lives by the motto "family first". This flexibility encourages mutual respect between employee and employer, and works both ways and is not exclusive for mothers.
A few months ago, I attended a meeting that felt like a defining moment in the industry's change towards gender equality. I sat around a board room table for a meeting with a potential customer. Every seat, including the customer, was filled by a woman. All senior leadership positions. This was the very first time I had experienced such a sight, and it filled me with hope and pride to be part of it.
Having spent 20 plus years within the logistics industry, these are exciting times. We are beginning to see a real fusion between logistics and technology. It is impressive to see how technology is enhancing compliance and product integrity. The provision of end-to-end visibility and risk management is improving customer's global supply chain security operations and simplifying day-to-day operations from all sides.
Guiding companies towards Industry 4.0 is exciting. There are many facets of technology, and deciphering which solutions are of most value and offer the best return on investment is becoming a key strategic focus.
In IT/tech, India is dominating; they have the highest percentage of women at 35%, compared with 17% in the UK and 20% in the US. So as with logistics and supply chain, tech still has a way to go for an equal workforce.
Where equality is standard
I am fortunate to work with a company that is breaking boundaries in more than just gender equality. They are also disrupting the supply chain and logistics Industry by fusing traditional supply chains with technology, two male-dominated industries. Working within a hybrid of Tech and Supply Chain Logistics, it has been rewarding to work for a company where women fill 50% of senior roles. With a natural 101:100 female: male ratio in the general population, shouldn't we be aspiring to see this same kind of balanced split within all levels of the workforce? I think so.
Amy Shortman, FCILT.
Amy is a Chartered Fellow of The Institute of Transport and Logistics and has 20 plus years’ experience within pharmaceutical logistics. During this time, she has worked within operations and commercial roles and is passionate about creating supply chains that ensure product integrity is maintained throughout.
In 2019 Amy joined disrupter Overhaul as its director of product marketing, enabling her to utilise her practical experience of supply chains with her passion for the future and Industry 4.0.