Women in Logistics: Logistics is changing – Australia needs to catch up.
Transport & Logistics employs nearly half a million people across Australia. Only 20% of these are women – unchanged for the past 30 years. But logistics isn’t what is used to be. Amazon and the impact of technology have changed this space forever. Gender diversity in the industry needs to change with it - or Australia will be left behind.
A 96.65 billion dollar industry – Transport & Logistics is key to the Australian economy. It employs nearly half a million people across the country and impacts many more.
So what are all of these people doing? When most people picture the industry, they think of trucks. Lots of trucks driving down dusty roads. The reality is very different. The advent of the Individual Economy - the IConomy - an economy of individuals who are all about “what I want, where I want, when I want” - is driving huge growth in ecommerce. This in turn is driving a massive growth in transport and logistics – with the expectation that road freight in 2030 will be nearly double what it was in 2015.*
These IConomy consumers have also changed the expectation of what needs to be delivered by logistics companies, particularly at the last mile. Customers at the very end of the supply chain are demanding transparency and control of their experience. They want to track their parcel from the time its dispatched to the moment it arrives in real-time, like they can their Uber driver. This expectation at the last mile is forcing change back through the supply chain – right to the first mile.
Customer expectations are forcing transport and logistics businesses to embrace technology and automation. The industry is not new to automation, we have already seen mining operations amongst the first to use autonomous vehicles. This surge in technology is reflected in the automation of goods-to-person logistics.
As the industry is changing so is it’s workforce. The average age of all workers in Transport and Logistics is 45 and continues to increase. This poses a huge problem for as a large proportion of workers are set to retire in the next 20 years.
Not only is is the workforce aging but the skills required are changing dramatically. The new workforce needs to be digitally savvy with data management and software solutions skills. A greater need than ever before exists to understand the customer at the end of the supply chain and to adjust to meet these needs.
Despite these changes only 20% of the transport industry were female in 2017. This percentage has remained essentially the same for the last 30 years. One of the reasons given for the low number of women in transport and logistics by the AIS is that “…barriers still exist for certain job roles considered too dangerous or impractical for females.”
Seriously? It is 2018 people. I would really like to know what these supposed jobs are that are ‘too dangerous or impractical for women’. This must be questioned. The real problem appears to be an outdated attitude to what sort of jobs women can and want to do. The AIS reported that 80.7% of employers reported difficulty getting people who could fill roles as truck drivers, educators, supervisors/managers, schedulers and forklift drivers. I think my feeble brain could handle scheduling. What do you think?
But to be fair, it’s not just the old attitudes. Transport & Logistics has an image problem – it’s just not sexy.
Australia is yet to feel the full might of Amazon. Amazon has made logistics sexy.
Amazon has disrupted transport and logistics on a global scale. Using their dominance in the ecommerce space, they understood very early that the ecommerce was really about delivering what the individual consumer wants. They dominated this space with Amazon Prime, linking online content subscription to free fast delivery – of pretty much everything. Delivery carriers are still scrambling to match this experience.
They moved up the logistics supply chain – where they are now a massive player and disrupter – in nearly every market. Worldwide Amazon has 493 warehouses covering about 180 square million feet. In February this year, Amazon announced plans to build its first air cargo hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport and they have already moved into the ocean freight business.
This global disruption, coupled with advances in technology has ignited innovation worldwide as businesses scramble to compete. Smart businesses are partnering with new innovators to help them change their businesses to adjust to this new dynamic world.
With all of this excitement, it’s hard to say transport and logistics is not sexy. Far more than driving trucks - it’s finding new and innovative ways to do business. It’s creating brand new software to fulfil the IConomy customer’s needs. It’s understanding the first mile, the last mile and making sure that there is innovation at every step in between.
It’s time for women to take their place in the industry. Logistics is changing and the gender diversity of its workforce needs to change with it. Businesses that embrace the change will be the winners.
Sources: *Transport & Logistics IRC Key Findings Paper, February 2018, Australian Industry Standards Ltd