Flying the flag for female leadership in logistics
Three of our female employees in diverse senior positions are leading by example as they mark International Women’s Day by calling on more women to consider careers in transport and logistics.
26-year-old Team Leader and Account Manager Jo Lawlor, 27-year-old Marketing Manager Helen Chick and Warehouse Administrator Hayley Thomas, 25, are part of our 79-strong workforce of whom 17 are female. All three have risen swiftly to their respective roles, and are keen to raise awareness of the variety of opportunities available for women in the industry.
Jo Lawlor started with us as a traffic controller four years ago before fast advancing to the role of Team Leader/Account Manager, which she has held for over two years. With a background in education and motorcycle sales, and with little prior knowledge of the logistics industry, Jo was drawn to a career in transport as she relished the challenge of something new. Both Jo and Hayley value the day-to-day variety of their respective roles and the rapport they’ve built with their teams, and agree that multi-tasking, prioritising and learning to find prompt solutions to all problems are crucial skills.
Jo acknowledges that there are stereotypes relating to both genders in the transport industry: “People think truck drivers are all men, and while this certainly isn’t the case, there aren’t as many female truck drivers as there could be.”
Early in her role as Team Leader, an agency driver informed Jo that she was “just a woman sitting at a desk – you don’t know what it’s like out here.” Jo’s response was assertive: “I reminded him that he had approached me for help and, considering he needed my assistance, it was best for him that he listened to me.”
She believes the industry will gradually become more accepting in terms of gender: “There is a need for more women higher up in this industry. It’s about finding the right person for the role – it’s really individual-based, rather than about gender.”
Helen Chick came to us from the electronics industry, and has been solely responsible for our marketing for almost two years to date. She thrives on the autonomy and ownership she has over her role, and has enjoyed taking on the challenges of prioritising and time-management as we have continued to grow over the last 18 months.
Whilst acknowledging that marketing is at present a female-dominated industry, Helen stresses the gender-neutral nature of her role: “You have to establish your department and learn how other departments within the company work to understand how best to market the business.”
Hayley Thomas joined the logistics industry aged 18, and has been working for us as Warehouse Administrator since February 2018. What drew her to the position was the opportunity to combine her passion for logistics and computers, and she feels that the skills required for her role – leadership, time-management, problem-solving and concentration – are gender-neutral.
“There are people who think logistics and warehousing are male-dominated, but I believe times are changing and it is becoming acknowledged that warehousing and logistics are gender-neutral, and that males and females can do the same jobs.
“I think the industry addresses gender imbalance with all its workplace equality laws, rules and regulations. There is now a lot less discrimination on the basis of gender within the logistics sector, which I think is helped by extra training in workplaces and by the Equal Rights Act, which enforces disciplinary action if discrimination is found.”
All three women share a common ambition: to continue to progress in the industry, working their way up to higher roles and greater responsibilities. Helen is eager to increase her management qualifications, build a team and bring in different skill sets.
Asked what advice she has for women considering embarking on a career in logistics or transport, Jo doesn’t hesitate: “Just do it! You’ve got to have a strong personality, be assertive and wear many hats and change them quickly, so if that’s you then go for it.”
Helen’s advice is similarly encouraging: “It’s not as male-dominated as you think, despite the look and feel of the industry. Since joining the Northamptonshire Logistics Forum I’ve grown more aware of how diverse the industry is in terms of gender. So many women in so many roles attend the Forum, from driving and finance to HR and marketing. Changing the perception of the industry is key to attracting more women from different careers into logistics. The more exposure the industry has, the more women will be drawn to it.”
Hayley’s last word on the sector is more personal: “It’s varied work and it’s also extremely rewarding. Logistics and transport workplaces are often close-knit communities, and as such you feel like your workplace and colleagues are family.”
Managing Director Neil Powell says: “Jo, Hayley and Helen are all fantastic members of staff who are greatly valued by their colleagues. We want to reward the dedication and hard work of our staff with encouragement and ongoing training. We’re proud of all our employees, and we hope to continue to recruit quality male and female staff across our expanding business.”
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