Woman on LaptopCareers in supply chain logistics offer excellent opportunities for job progression, but women are currently underrepresented in the industry.

In this article, Veronika Simekova, product manager for supply chain technology partner Balloon One, explores how women can be encouraged to join the field in three stages.

Careers in supply chain logistics have some amazing benefits — the industry is expanding, the careers are stable, and there are many opportunities for progression. So why are women still underrepresented in the industry? Shockingly, only 5% of the highest-earning supply chain positions are currently held by women (IndustryWeek).

Whilst this statistic is fortunately set to improve, there’s still a long way to go. That’s why we need to be proactive in encouraging women to pursue careers in supply chain logistics, which we can do in three steps.

1. Entering the industry

To get more women in supply chain logistics, it’s important to start promoting the industry to girls at a young age. The earlier that girls learn about the industry, the more time they have to see the perks of the roles and find the right career path for them. A great way to educate girls on the wide range of roles is to do Q&A’s at schools and colleges, with three women at different stages of their logistics careers. As well as showing that women are welcome in STEM careers, this will demonstrate the potential for career progression in action.

But it isn’t enough to just educate young girls — we must take action. One important change that can be made is increasing the amount of apprenticeships available exclusively for women. Not only does this help young women get their foot in the door, but it will create loyal female employees, as 64% of apprentices continue working for the same employer (reed.co.uk).

To attract more women to the industry, it is vital that companies prioritise closing the gender pay gap. Research has found that on average, women in logistics are paid 5.72% less than men (logisticsmanager). DHL, a leading global supply chain management company, has an average pay gap of 8.1% (DHL). Some tried and tested actions that have had a positive impact on closing the gender pay gap include using structured interviews to prevent unconscious bias from kicking in, encouraging salary negotiation, and appointing diversity managers (Government Equalities Office).

2. Staying in the industry

Once women start taking up more roles in supply chain logistics, the challenge becomes keeping them there. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that women are welcomed into the workplace with open arms. To make women feel safe and comfortable at work, employers have the responsibility to create a diverse workforce and ensure that every team member receives diversity training. Not only does this make the workplace safer for all employees, but diverse teams often outperform less diverse companies (McKinsey & Company).

It’s also vital that we take the time to understand the needs of female employees, and find ways to accommodate them. One way this can be done is by offering employees flexible schedules. Research has found that not only do many women prefer flexible work arrangements, but they are more likely to apply for management positions that offer flexible working (Independent Women’s Forum).

Another great policy for female workers that has been underused in the UK is menstrual leave. While periods aren’t disruptive for all women, up to 10% claim that the pain is enough to interfere with their daily life (Women’s Health Concern). Menstrual leave policies are rare, so companies that have them really stand out from the crowd, which could give your business a competitive edge when hiring female staff.

3. Progressing in the industry

Supply chain logistics is by far one of the best industries for job progression, with many paths to choose from. But with women accounting for less than a fifth of supply chain management roles, female workers may not seize the chance to move up in their careers (Gartner). This will leave them feeling unsatisfied with their role, and could ultimately lead to them leaving the industry.

To help women progress in the supply chain logistics field, industry leaders need to provide two things: motivation and knowledge. Assigning female mentors to women new to the industry will help them thrive in their current roles and see their future potential. Mentors can also be a great source of knowledge, as they have likely experienced similar dilemmas to their mentee, and therefore know which course of action is best to take.

Furthermore, mentorship is highly valued by women in the workplace, with 67% seeing it as an important resource that will help them with career advancement (CHRONUS). Plus, 65% of female mentees go on to become mentors themselves (CHRONUS). This creates a supportive cycle amongst women, which will both strengthen employee bonds and give future female employees the opportunity to thrive in their supply chain logistics career.

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