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IWD 2023: Beyond shipping - Empowering diversity in logistics
Wed, 8th Mar 2023
FYI, this story is more than a year old

When I first began my career, I would have never expected to end up as a leader in the shipping and logistics industry. While it might seem like an out-of-the-box career choice, the reality is that the sector is so much more than just sending parcels.

With touch points in multiple sectors — eCommerce, small business, supply chain, sustainability and more — there's a consistent humdrum of activity and opportunity, which means no two days are the same. Yet, there's no doubt that the shipping and logistics industry lacks diverse representation. In the global supply chain management sphere, only 15% of women hold executive positions.

Throughout my career, there have certainly been challenges that I've faced as a female in a male-dominated sector, but what I've learned is that every challenge presents a fresh opportunity — to innovate, disrupt and lead — and it's these learnings that have shaped who I am today and led me to my role as Sendle Australia's Managing Director. Here's a snapshot of my greatest lessons so far…

More than a one-size-fits-all opportunity

There's so much more to the shipping and logistics industry than package delivery.

From roles like Sustainability Director (including our very own Veena Harbaugh) to jobs in marketing and technology, customer support and product innovation, the industry is filled with exciting opportunities. In my experience, the biggest barrier preventing people from breaking into the industry is their own confidence in the skills that they're bringing to the table.

Research has shown that women typically apply for jobs for which they perceive they are 100 per cent qualified. But if my experience has proven anything, you can still be the right person for a role without ticking every box on the job description or criteria. My unconventional path to joining the shipping and logistics workforce couldn't have been possible without the transferable skills that I developed in both brand and business commercialisation roles.

Skills like communication, problem-solving, critical thinking and resilience are invaluable in just about every industry — and it's these skills that made me the right person for the role of Managing Director, despite a limited background in shipping and logistics.

At Sendle, we know that diversity has great benefits for a company. Varied perspectives lead to better problem-solving, faster and more creative ideation and safeguards against 'groupthink', which is why it's so important to make sure there's room for everyone at the table. And that means hiring people with a wide range of backgrounds, skills, identities and experiences.

Unlocking the potential of diverse talent in shipping and logistics

Statistically speaking, women make up less than half (41%) of the supply chain workforce.

But it doesn't have to be this way. The industry is home to engineers, marketers, eco-warriors, designers, pop culture nerds and more — we're an industry full of passionate and creative people engaging in robust conversation and solving big problems. While we know diversity is good for business, it's also paramount to cultivating an inclusive culture (and one where people bring their whole selves to work).

From an industry perspective, businesses should actively recruit diverse talent and look beyond the typical pool of applicants when it comes to recruitment. Building mentorship and internship programs are also ways to support the next wave of talent, and providing on-the-job training and professional development opportunities can also help nurture those in the field.

Finally, the industry can work to create a more flexible working environment that supports the needs and goals of its employees. At Sendle, we're a remote-first company, which means our employees can — and are genuinely encouraged to — work around family and life commitments. Creating a diverse and inclusive environment also means making sure everyone feels supported and valued so that they can enjoy their work, look after mental health and truly excel in their roles.

At Sendle, we've always believed in challenging the status quo, and we apply the same lens to our approach to diversity and inclusion in our workforce. Globally, 51% of us are female, half of our leaders and managers are women, and women account for a fifth of our executive leadership team.

Each year, International Women's Day is a reminder of the importance of creating diverse and inclusive teams. But diversity and inclusion can't exist in a vacuum and require considered, daily effort to foster. Just like every sector, the shipping and logistics industry has the potential to become a champion of diversity and inclusivity. Recruiting from more diverse talent pools, providing greater opportunities for mentorship and training, and offering more flexibility in working environments are ways that the industry can move towards a better and more equitable future. I look forward to being a part of this change.