Women in logistics: Attracting female talent to the industry

By - Talent in Logistics Journal

Women in logistics: Attracting female talent to the industry

The logistics sector is currently suffering from a nationwide skills gap, with around 54 per cent of logistics companies expecting this skills shortage to increase over the next five years (CILT). But, why is there such a shortage?

The lack of skills could be down to the fact that the supply chain industry is still largely male-dominated, which means it is missing out on valuable skillsets from female workers. In fact, a diverse workforce could be key to the success of your company. Research from McKinsey & Company shows that businesses with a diverse executive board tend to receive significantly higher earnings and returns on equity compared to those that are less diverse.

It is important that we address the gender imbalance and recruit and retain more women in the logistics industry. Here are a number of ways businesses can attract more female candidates.

Challenge perceptions of the industry

The logistics sector is currently dominated by men, which means it can commonly be looked at as a masculine industry. However, with so many different roles, from physical labour and warehouse management to AI, IT, and research positions, as well as opportunities for career development, it is important that we challenge and change perceptions of the industry and show off the varying roles that women can take up.

To do this, there are various steps that we need to take. First of all, we can attend schools and colleges to encourage young women to think about a career in logistics. We can preserve our future talent pipeline by discussing the importance of STEM subjects at an early age. We can also start to attract grassroots talent by taking part in apprenticeship and graduate schemes.

Introducing female mentors into schools and universities can show young women just what a career in logistics can do for them. Simply having a female role model that's already in the industry can go a long way towards attracting female talent in the future.

Encourage gender equality

In the workplace, there needs to be a bigger focus on encouraging gender equality. Although there's been a huge crack down on the gender pay gap in recent years, there are still some instances and industries where female workers are paid less than their male counterparts.

Currently, female forklift drivers earn around 5.1 per cent less than male forklift drivers, and female managers and directors in storage, warehousing, and logistics are, on average, paid between 9–11 per cent less than men (ONS). So, businesses must encourage gender equality by offering female workers the same opportunities and pay as male staff.

The hiring process itself needs to be considered. Everything from the wording of job adverts to the imagery used online can tell potential applicants what kind of person is being sought. However, wording and imagery can create an unconscious bias. To avoid this, employers must avoid any gendered words in job descriptions. Using a tool like Totaljobs' gender bias decoder can help to display diversity and gender-inclusivity.

In a male-dominated industry, it is highly likely that recruitment boards will be made up of a large proportion of men, which can either put women off or cause an unconscious bias in the final decision.

Review your company culture 

Since the industry is generally male-dominated, the thought of entering into this kind of workplace can be intimidating for female applicants.

Employers should make sure that all employees are aware of the benefits a diverse workforce can bring. Company culture should be fully inclusive of people, no matter their gender, so employers should make sure they have systems in place that can make roles fit around female workers as well as male. For example, offering flexible start times or giving the option for workers to choose their shift patterns. Not only can this help to attract more female talent, but it can also be a key factor in employee retention, too.

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