The logistics industry is evolving with new technologies, market trends, and customer demands, and is becoming more inclusive and welcoming to diverse perspectives and skill sets, particularly in the participation and representation of women.
The logistics industry is shifting towards a more skill-based approach to recruitment, while digitalization is enabling women to enter roles that were traditionally held by men.
According to JBAndrews, a European-based executive search firm specializing in Freight Forwarding and Contract Logistics, only 2% of the global logistics and supply chain workforce is composed of women. Additionally, only 20% of management roles in the industry are held by women, with the US and UK having some of the highest percentages of female workers at 22% and 25%, respectively. In India, data on female representation in the logistics industry is limited, but estimates suggest that it was around 15% a few years ago.
However, the industry is now adopting a skill-based approach to recruitment, and advancements in technology are allowing women to take on roles that were previously held only by men. The labour shortage and criticality of missions during the pandemic prompted logistics companies to increase their hiring rate, and women are now being seen in roles such as operating forklifts and driving heavy vehicles.
New research also indicates that women provide a key advantage in boosting supply chain collaboration and efficiency. Incorporating diverse perspectives, including of women, into leadership teams can lead to above-average profits. Women in the industry who have been breaking barriers and challenging traditional roles are now getting the recognition they deserve, and this is helping in creating more visibility and awareness.
Change in culture is of utmost importance in organizations, and it must permeate from top to bottom. Every member of an organization must understand the important role women play in the growth of their company. With a greater emphasis on an inclusive culture, a systemic change can take place. Various Indian companies are making efforts to hire more women in blue-collared jobs, and the transportation sector is also witnessing a change, albeit at a slow pace. While long-haul travel is still completely male-dominated, inroads are being made in the last mile delivery segment.
Success in logistics is about reliability, trust, and building long-term relationships.
When I entered the logistics industry 25 years ago, I only had a B.Com degree and I studied Law while working. I believe that while degrees are important, they are not essential. My advice for women considering a career in logistics is to prioritize their ability to quickly grasp, learn, retain, and understand the industry within the first three months of joining. Not everyone is suitable for every job, so it's important to identify your strengths and focus on developing the skills that will make you successful in your desired role. There are many institutes and teachers who can help equip you with the right skillset. However, it's ultimately up to you to hone your skills and use them effectively at work.
It's important to note that a professional approach is becoming a dying trait in the industry, with many young people focusing more on money, success, and recognition than on building a solid reputation. Remember that reputation is everything in this industry and clients want reliability and trust in their vendors. The way companies are handled today is different from 5 or 7 years ago, so it's important to adapt to the changing times.
The logistics and supply chain industry is a rewarding and fulfilling field, one that provides its members with a sense of purpose and impact, diverse experiences, and the opportunity to travel.
The logistics industry is a powerful force that shapes the world we live in every day. As a member of this industry, you are responsible for getting goods from the manufacturer to the final customer, both domestically and internationally. This helps to facilitate global trade and ensure that the goods we need in our daily lives are readily available.
One of the biggest perks of working in logistics is the sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing that your hard work is responsible for the goods in stores, the clothes being worn, and the food that is being eaten. This sense of impact is unmatched in other industries.
Additionally, the logistics industry offers the opportunity to meet diverse people, gain unique experiences, and handle a wide variety of cargoes across different industries. This diversity helps to keep the job interesting and engaging.
Many logistics professionals also find that traveling is a significant perk of the job. It allows them to see new places, experience different cultures, and stay energized and agile. In fact, many seasoned logistics professionals consider traveling to be one of the best parts of the job.
Both the government and the companies play an important role in ensuring the inclusion of women in the logistics industry. From a policy perspective, equal pay, safety, better working conditions, and hygiene, are critical issues that must be addressed.
From my experience, companies that employ women understand the importance of providing equal pay and opportunities for advancement. Although there may have been instances in the past where some companies were insensitive to the needs of women, this is changing. I am not aware of any companies where women are paid less than men for the same work. In fact, in many cases, women are paid more, have the same power and resources as their male counterparts, and may even receive additional benefits. My company, for example, has had women heading departments from the beginning.
The logistics industry is generally considered to be one of the safest for women. While there may be specific geographic areas or individual companies where safety concerns are more prevalent, overall, women in this industry are treated equally.
The government is also taking steps to promote gender diversity and attract more women to the logistics industry. For example, the government-certified Logistics Skill Council has provided internship opportunities for students, many of whom are women. However, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed, particularly in the transportation sector. Rest stops for truck drivers, for example, may not have adequate facilities for women. Efforts must be made to improve washroom infrastructure and hygiene, as well as physical security arrangements, to make the sector more attractive to women.
One of the most challenging projects I have been involved in is handling aviation cargo, specifically helicopter transportation.
I have been involved in many shipments over the years, each with their own unique challenges and complexities. The first shipment that I handled stands out as particularly challenging and transformative. It has been over 15 years since I handled that shipment, but the effect still lingers. In fact, I am often referred to as the "Helicopter Lady of India" due to my expertise in this area. Overall, handling aviation cargo, especially helicopter transportation, has been a challenging yet rewarding experience. It has allowed me to grow and develop as a logistics professional, while solidifying my passion for the industry.