Logistics and supply chain needs more women

Perception is changing but nationally women are still underrepresented within the logistics and supply chain sectors, a situation that many businesses like total supply chain solutions provider Oakland International are working hard to change.

With their goal to have a workforce which broadly reflects labour availability Oakland International have rolled out several initiatives with the sole aim of cutting through the many real barriers woman face.

Operating flexible shift patterns, trialling workplace childcare facilities, and offering the same pay rates irrespective of gender for both part-time and full-time workers, are all aimed to enhance gender diversity as Oakland believes a mix of masculinity and femininity brings benefits including alternative thinking, increased productivity, reliability, and retention, and that by attracting more female talent and providing a platform for career development benefits all parties.

Oakland International Transport Manager Lynne Pearson joined the company three years ago.

Said Lynne: “I’ve always had an interest in transport and joined to assist with their transport administration and drivers’ shifts. As my transport knowledge increased, and despite every day bringing new challenges, I wanted more and approached Oakland to undertake the CPC (Certificate in Professional Competence) transport qualification.

“They were very supportive and even put me through the required training and qualification, which I successfully completed in November 2022, and when the opportunity arose, I applied, and in September I was appointed transport manager.”

Women only represent around 7% of the logistics sector workforce which employs over 2 million people, and generated £139 billion in 2019, and although female HGV driver numbers are increasing, they still only account for 0.7% of the UK’s qualified HGV drivers.

Lynne together with fellow female colleagues attended the launch event of Women in Cold Chain (WiCC) in September, where Oakland International’s Co-Founder and Group CEO Dean Attwell was one of the speakers. The WiCC initiative aims to encourage female school leavers, university graduates, and women from other industry sectors to consider a career in the temperature-controlled storage and distribution industry, which traditionally is male dominated.

Said Lynne: “At WiCC the speakers imparted their experience that anything’s possible, and so many women talked about their own experiences of working within a male dominated environment that I too had experienced such as service engineers talking to the ‘man’ behind you as you wouldn’t know what they were talking about, drivers talking over or past you, your opinion or point of view not being heard in meetings, and people generally presuming because you are female you can’t manage transport!

“I do believe that there are a lot of men that just don’t realise the challenges women face, and they need to hear about it firsthand to understand, and for them then to support women in their chosen profession, no matter what that might be.

“WiCC was fantastic, and I left feeling empowered by the speakers and women I met. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other women, and who knows, I may be able to encourage others into our industry.”

Oakland International is a leader in distress load management, saving food and non-food from going to waste and is a specialist in D2C/B2C/B2B providing contract packing, storage, picking, food distribution and brand development support encompassing ambient, chilled, and frozen food, and services retail, convenience, discount, wholesale and food service markets in the UK and Ireland. BRCGS AA accredited they are a Certified B Corporation business and are working towards becoming the first business within their sector to achieve net-zero.

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