After almost four decades working across logistics and supply chain, I have witnessed a lot of change. When first starting out, I was often the only woman present in meetings or on sites, while the concept of gender equality was certainly not high on the agenda. Today, the industry has become far more diverse and I know a number of very successful women working in senior positions. However, there is no getting away from it – this is still a hugely male-dominated environment. Of the 1.7 million people working in this sector, female representation is thought to be less than a quarter. Not only do I think that this needs to change, but that it inevitably will, given the way that the logistics sector is developing.
Achieving gender equality shouldn’t be an end in itself. Numerous studies from the likes of PWC and Credit Suisse, have found that companies with more female executives in decision-making positions generate stronger market returns and superior profits, and employers in the world of logistics and supply chain must take note and look to recruit a more balanced workforce.
In the past, the biggest barrier to entry for a woman has been the misperception that a career in logistics is destined to involve heavy lifting and moving, operating machinery – physical work which might put them at a disadvantage. In reality, there has never been a better time to enter the field. Technological advancement means that many of those jobs traditionally associated with this career are now automated. Instead, success and progression in the world of logistics is more likely to come to tech-savvy problem solvers who understand how the latest technologies and computer systems can be implemented to make companies operate more efficiently. This shift has opened the door to more gender equality, and it is up to us in the industry to ensure that young women choosing their careers are aware of what’s involved in logistics.
The rise of e-commerce and globalisation has also created a need for logistical expertise across all types of businesses, whether it’s fashion and retail, or sectors more typically associated with logistics, such as construction. This growing demand is creating more opportunities, which women are increasingly grasping, not just in warehouse and delivery roles, but in customer-facing and business development logistics positions.
In my current role as Director of Commodity Support Services, Team Leidos & Director of Leidos Supply Ltd, I am privileged to help oversee Leidos’ LCST Programme, which is supporting the transformation of the UK’s defence supply chain, through the creation of a single supply chain integration portal. (SCIP). Since 2015, this programme has delivered over £1 billion worth of products to the UK military using cutting-edge procurement techniques – getting everything from food rations to boots, exactly where they need to be, at the right price and at the right time.
The role allows me to manage an organisation of around 200 supply chain resources within Leidos’ logistic business sector, with a high percentage of recognised professionals and an increasing number of women developing their careers. I take great pride in playing a part in these women’s careers and believe that if we are to accelerate a balancing of the gender scales in the logistics sector, then we need more women in senior and highly visible positions who can reach out to a new generation.
Thanks to development of technology such as AI, and the inexorable rise of delivery services, there has been never a more exciting time to work in the logistics sector and thankfully the door to women is now wide open.
By Jaynie Davies, Director of Commodity Support Services Team Leidos & Leidos Supply Ltd