Diversity & Inclusion in logistics why bother?

The Financial Reporting Councils new code has been released, demanding that gender and diversity is explicitly considered when new board members are appointed. Around the same time, Women in Logistics UK gathered 50 members together to share insights and learnings from best practice examples of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) programmes within supply chain and logistics. D&I can encompass a broad spectrum of areas, including gender, ethnicity, religion, disability and sexual orientation the event touched briefly on each of these, with the majority of time focussed on gender diversity. The output was compelling examples of real business benefit in logistics businesses and five simple lessons applicable to any logistics business.

The group brought together best practice case studies from a range of businesses, with formal presentations from Pepsico, DHL and CEVA logistics, as well as numerous other examples shared by the Global Diversity Practice and experts from Cranfield University.  Whilst each organisation had built their approach independently and used slightly different tactics, common themes and lessons were clear.

1. Get leadership buy in from the line.  A successful D&I programme needs leadership from the very top, and from the line rather than just HR.  Senior sponsorship is essential to embedding the change within the organisation and ensuring that D&I is taken seriously as a cultural norm.

2. Get clear on the business case.  Business benefit of an effective D&I programme comes from a number of areas.  These typically include maximising and retaining internal talent through improved engagement and retention, attracting a greater pool of strong diverse external talent, as well as general reputational benefit.  Successful D&I programmes usually start small and with minimal budget its amazing what you can achieve for little or no investment.

3. Share the vision.  All the success stories shared at the Women in Logistics session had a clear and compelling vision for D&I. Clarity and communication of this vision at the start of any D&I programme was seen as a key success factor for making the initiative live within the organisation.

4. Measure & recognise success.   The old adage what gets measured gets done applies as much to D&I as any other initiative.  Best practice businesses have functional D&I objectives in place, with performance objectives to make people accountable.  Alongside clear objectives, recognising and celebrating success in D&I is key and again, this can be done at minimal cost.

5. D&I is a journey and even the best have lots more to do.  The best in supply chain and logistics are making a real difference, but there is still a long way to go.  Without exception, the Boards of the UKs 350 top companies are all dominated by men: not a single one of them has more female directors than male ones and almost half feature no women at all.  Women account for just 22% of the logistics workforce in England, compared with 46% in other sectors, and women hold fewer than 10% of the managerial roles in Logistics.

Diversity & Inclusion is still at the early adopter stage within logistics & supply chain, but those already engaged have seen compelling business benefits and are happy to share their learnings.

About Women in Logistics UK
Women in Logistics UK has a key purpose of promoting women in the logistics sector and providing networking and mentoring opportunities. The organisation was established in September 2008 and quickly gained momentum, with 500 members joining in the first year; there are now almost 1,000 with numbers going up every day. About 15% of members are men who support women working in the industry, and the organisation actively encourages more men to join. Women in Logistics UK was formed with the aim to help increase the number of women in the sector, improve life for those women already working in logistics (and therefore retain their talents) and to address the gender imbalance issue. Its objectives include:-
providing networking events for members to attend.
offering support and mentoring for younger professionals.
providing advice and encouragement to those entering the industry.
personal development and support for members through planned activities.

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