Encouraging a Female Future

Having just celebrated International Women’s Day this month and following the recent news of the partnership between The Women in Logistics UK group (WiL) and The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), here at Barnes, we felt that it was an appropriate moment to comment on the current gendered state of affairs within the industry. We are, like many other logistic professionals, confident in stating that the industry is male lead – but whilst we are confident on this matter, we are also disheartened by it, and it is in this piece that we hope to not only raise awareness of the gender disproportion but to ask why this disappointing disparity exists.

As the joint venture between The Women in Logistics UK group and The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport was announced, the industry as a whole felt a movement of progression. The partnership, which came into effect on the 1st March, is significant as it allows greater opportunities for women to access support, whilst also allowing them a platform to confidently and safely discuss the issues and challenges that they face in both recruitment and retention. In addition to this, to create an encouraging ambience to the sector, the two bodies hope for it to also be a space to engage, motivate and inspire past, present and future female logistic talents.

Whilst this is a step forward, the road to equality within logistics still stretches ahead, and it is up to us and our industry peers to host conversations that aim to discover how we can continue the journey to a better, and more equal, working environment. In 2013, The Guardian reported that although the transport and logistics sector boasts an employee count of 1.5m, women make up less than a quarter of these numbers. Upon investigation, they offer a plausible proposal as to why; one which we fear may be the reality: poor perceptions.

Despite 2018 being marked as ‘The Year of the Woman’ – a reflection of the progression in the 100 years since women gained the right to vote and a reminder that there is still a way to go – it is thought that many women believe there to be (and have experienced) a glass ceiling within logistics. Whatever gender you may identify as, it is vital to understand and this perspective and the limitations it may pose. On a daily basis, if you deemed the working environment to be overruled by the projection of male stereotype narratives –  “heavy labour is a man’s work” – which lead to suspicions of restrictions in terms of growth, promotions and salaries – why would you enter such an industry?

Jennifer Swain, a logistic and supply chain recruitment expert, offered a thought-provoking piece on LinkedIn, whereby she discussed the reality of female enthusiasm to join the industry in the first instance. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, she had only interviewed three women for logistical positions in seven months; and although this is the experience of a singular company, we suspect that the numbers may not be all that different for other businesses within the industry.

With the key issues identified, the next steps are to tackle them. The WiL and CILT partnership is a fantastic place to start, but we all need to offer the body support by playing our part. To do this, we cannot emphasise the importance of speaking to those affected enough; reach out to your female employees and peers, provide them with a safe space and ask them for an honest conversation on their motivations, challenges, and the ways in which they might feel restricted. Then put these comments into action – address the points raised by continually working together and fighting to improve the working environment for all employees. Once these practices become common place within the logistic and transport industry, the sector will undoubtedly better promote itself – although this is not to say that marketing efforts will not need to be executed in order to reach a greater number of people.

Here at Barnes, we strive for an equal and motivating work space for employees of all genders. As we have commented before, we operate an open-door policy, and we welcome all our colleagues to discuss any matters, regardless of the topic, with us.

If you have any thoughts that you would like to share with us on gender equality within the transport and logistics industry, please get in contact with us via our website or Twitter page.

How do we Entice the Younger Generation into Logistics?

Each day offers something new – one day may take you to the other end of the UK, the next you may be heading across the borders and venturing into our neighbouring countries. Imagine waking up every morning to different scenery, having the opportunity to meet new people and receiving regular input and support from your employer. Logistics: it’s the ideal career. However, despite this, the logistic industry is still struggling to recruit young people, and it’s a growing concern for the country.

For the past two years, the haulage industry has been talking about the shortage of drivers. With the shortage of drivers believed to be between 45,000 and 60,000 and just 2% of HGV drivers under the age of 25, it is imperative that the industry acts soon in order to encourage a new generation of drivers to fill the available positions.

At Barnes Logistics, we’re committed to tackling the driver shortage, and so, we have decided to round up the best parts of being a driver, and what it takes to get there!

Each day typically begins with checking the truck for damage or physical faults. This includes examining the tyre pressure, topping up fluids, and even checking that no one has entered the vehicle. These checks are vital, as the vehicles are on the road for long periods every day, and these checks act as safety barriers for both the driver and other road users – so a sharp eye is key.

Following the checks, the driver will load the lorry. It is a task that requires both physical strength and skill, as drivers will need to be able to efficiently operate the lifts within the vehicle, and plan how to balance the load to maximise the driving quality. Once this is done, you’re ready to hit the road.

A career in driving is a rewarding one, with drivers often able to plan their hours to suit them – as long as delivery targets are met and they meet the DVSA guidelines. Through picking up and dropping off deliveries, it is guaranteed that you’ll meet new people every day, as well as having regular contact with other employees at the company base.

Access to the resources and qualifications needed for a HGV job are there, but more young people need to know how to access them. The All Part Parliamentary Group has reported that there are 142 high education courses available, including courses at 48 universities, all available to school leavers. With the government also ruling that young people must remain in education until the age of 18, the age at which a C+E licence can be acquired, the logistic industry is hopeful that with the right guidance, many school leavers will opt to head straight into a HGV driving career upon completion of their studies.

In order to do this, governing bodies and logistic organisations must be more proactive in covering issues such as education, funding and bursaries if the driver shortage is to be addressed.

At Barnes Logistics, we are keen to welcome young drivers into the business. Each of our drivers are happy, comfortable and undergo all necessary training. We hope that through continuous recruitment, we can help the industry overcome the driver shortage and the effects it has on the sector.