Happy International Women’s Day!
Over at System People we have a pretty good understanding of what compromises a fulfilling and productive workplace and unsurprisingly, it’s one that champions women. The System People Education team is an all-female team, so we really do understand the issues women face in the workplace and specialise within employment.
Our Logistics business SP Training offers training and apprenticeships in the Logistics sector, so we know first-hand that these industries tend to be male-dominated and know that generally, women might be apprehensive at prospect of embarking on a career in the industry for a number of reasons.
We caught up with Karen Stalker, Managing Director at Stalkers Transport, who shares with us why Logistics is a great career choice for women, her advice for women wanting to pursue a career in Logistics, and her insight on some misconceptions about the industry. Karen has a wealth of experience within the industry, and Stalkers Transport have been helping their diverse range of customers find a flexible range of vehicle choices and solutions for over 50 years now.
Watch this space – and make sure you’re following our Facebook page here where we will be sharing more tips and insight into workplaces and employment.
Q+A with Karen Stalker, Managing Director, Stalkers Transport:
What advice would you give women looking to go into the Logistics sector?
Don’t put yourself in a box – remember that you can do anything you put your mind to! Physically, there is absolutely nothing stopping women from perusing a career in the industry – I’m really passionate about this and we really do need more women to balance the diversity.
There are actually lots of successful women who have done really well, which proves women are more than capable to succeed. I would also emphasise how broad the industry is – people don’t realise the wide range of roles there are including the likes of accountants, financial roles, marketing sales, planners etc. It’s not just road haulers, its rail, air, fleet – the opportunities are endless.
What barriers do you think exist for women entering the industry?
I think for the likes of truck driving perhaps the element of working away from home for really long periods of time – that could be difficult for new mothers working around home life. However, saying this, we do have a female long-distance driver at Stalkers Transport, – she is excellent and loves the job and lifestyle.
There is definitely the misconception that women are not strong enough – and might not be able to manage the physical demands of truck driving and other roles in Logistics, but if you’ve got the right equipment, tools, and training It’s really not a strength thing.
The facilities on the road could be a turn off – for long-distance drivers. The cleaning facilities aren’t great. You’d be surprised how adaptable these vans are now-a-days though, they have microwaves in the back, they really are self-sufficient.
What could the Logistics industry do to encourage more women to choose a career in Logistics?
More women in positions of leadership are really important – if women can see other women in these positions if will reinforce the narrative that they can advance and have a successful career in logistics.
We just need to raise awareness about the breadth of opportunities. The industry can actually be very flexible, for example, it’s possible to work shifts that suit different people based on all of the different roles and opportunities available. There really is something for everyone.
Companies should have open and honest policies in place that supports all workers and makes them feel comfortable. At Stalkers Transport we have a really positive open-door policy where we ensure that communication is key in making employees feel supported in the workplace.
It’s really important we raise awareness and educate before gender roles become ingrained in schools and young girls are led to believe that a career in Logistics isn’t for them. We are part of Cumbria Transport group alongside System People and are working hard to raise awareness of the industry and the breadth of opportunities in the Logistics sector. The industry is often overshadowed by university and apprenticeships. Equally, it’s important to make young females aware of this industry and the opportunities.
What are some of the misconceptions about the Logistics industry?
That it can be isolating, especially with long distance driving and working alone which could also raise concerns about safety, especially with women for obvious reasons but they are completely kitted out with cameras, intercoms etc – so being on the road is a safe place to be.
Further to this point, people aren’t aware how vast the industry is. From Warehousing, Supply Chain Design and Planning, Procurement, Inventory management, Transportation and more – two days are never the same and there is something for everyone. There is a lot of collaboration that goes in the industry so you’re always meeting people which makes it a really exciting career.
Are there any groups out there to support women in Logistics?
There are all kinds of groups online and on social media that champion women in Logistics that include the likes of networking events, panels, awards and discussions.
There is a lot of support, encouragement and mentoring! A lot is online now due to Covid-19 but we have monthly and quarterly meetings and through some of the associations older mentors would be paired with younger individuals to discuss any worries and concerns – which is really great.
Women in Logistics and Transport (WiLAT) was launched in June 2013 to promote the industry to female members and to encourage support their career development, and there are a lot of women championing this within the industry – like myself!