Advice for Women in the Logistics Industry
BY JEAN REGAN, PRESIDENT & CEO
Whether you’re a woman currently working in logistics or simply exploring this field, I encourage you to look for opportunities here. It can be daunting to try to make inroads in a field where the vast majority of leadership positions are held by men. That’s why I’m sharing the advice and insights I’ve gained working in this industry and taking on the role of CEO.
TIP 1: Don’t be intimidated that majority of the industry is male.
The reason men make up most of the leadership in the logistics field is largely due to historical preference. Going back 20 or 30 years, there weren’t many women entering this field. Since men made up most of the field then, it only makes sense that over time they would advance and make up most of the leadership now. From what I’ve seen, a woman who wants to make it in this field is just as capable of doing this as a male counterpart. And since there are an estimated 6 million jobs out there in logistics, it’s certainly an area where there is room for advancement.
TIP 2: When looking to advance to a new position, give yourself the benefit of the doubt.
In an article in LinkedIn Pulse by logistics recruiter Jennifer Swain, she shared that men are applying for jobs even when they fall short of the qualifications, while women are not. She comments:
“… it has become apparent to me that men and women view a job description in very different ways. A man will look at a job specification and highlight all the things he CAN do, and apply for the role on the basis that he may tick 70% of the boxes. A woman will look at the same job description and look at all the things they CANNOT do and NOT apply because they don’t tick 30% of the boxes.”
Next time you see a position that’s a good next step for you, give it a try, even if it isn’t a perfect fit. The worst thing that can happen is they’ll ignore you and if you don’t apply it’s certain that you won’t be on their radar.
TIP 3: Get involved in conferences and associations.
As a woman in the logistics industry, networking through events and associations has added value since you’ll be more memorable than the many men in the crowd. I’m involved in several associations and attend many events each year, which enables me to meet new people and stay on top of what’s happening in my industry. Another recruiter in the supply chain area commented in a Fortune article, “If you can, go to the huge national conferences CSCMP sponsors … It’s a great way to meet people in the industry.” She went on to encourage signing up for one of CSCMP’s local chapters since they’re all over the United States. Our company is very involved with CSCMP and I’d suggest this as a great place to start if you’re not already plugged in.
TIP 4: Set yourself apart with an advanced degree such as an MBA.
An MBA is a valuable degree to have in the logistics industry and I’m grateful to have earned one early in my career. Many other notable women in logistics have MBAs such as Deborah Winkleblack, VP of International Logistics and Compliance for Claire’s, and Terri Reid, Director, Transportation and Supply Chain Famous Footwear. Gaining this degree is a great way to expand your network as well as learn a ton about the industry and management in general.
TIP 5: Toot your own horn if needed.
This last piece of advice might be the most difficult for many. Terri Reid of Famous Footwear cautioned:
“Understand that in this business if you run an efficient and tight ship, you won’t get noticed. You have to do a certain amount of “tooting your own horn” and you need to educate and inform the C –level Executives in your organization about the value of the functions you perform. You need to communicate important issues such as regulatory changes that can affect pricing and operations and how they will impact your company’s bottom line. And after that, you have to educate them on what to do about it. Stay visible, don’t just sit back and expect anyone to notice you.”
If you’re doing an outstanding job and it’s not being recognized, don’t be afraid to highlight your successes. That could be done by having examples ready to share in meetings, sending an email update about a positive change or trend, or in another way.I hope you found these tips helpful and wish you the best on your journey. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them.