Thursday 20th Sep, 2018

INDUSTRY OPINION: Promotion of workplace diversity makes good business sense

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

OUR sector of commerce is facing increased automation, regulation, operational reforms and a highly competitive environment. Business must adopt change management strategies to implement process improvements and more importantly, encourage individual staff development to build team excellence.

Supporting these outcomes, the Women in Logistics (WIL) forum has two primary aims; to provide a network for women to assist in their professional development and to support businesses in better managing staffing resources to achieve operational efficiencies.

Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Women’s International Shipping & Trade Association (WISTA) had the pleasure in hosting the annual Women In Logistics forum in Sydney on 26 July 2017 where we were privileged to hear from Libby Lyons, Director of the Workplace Gender & Equality Agency (WGEA).

Libby presented a scorecard on the gender gap within the logistics sector (including customs brokerages, freight forwarding businesses and transport operations) which highlighted:

  • 26% of full-time staff are female with a 20.7% pay gap translating to a difference of $19,053 every year (when you include other forms of remuneration (like superannuation) the full-time total pay gap is 23.8% every year – or a difference of $26,835).
  • Few women make it to managerial level with 20.6% of key managers being women, and 4.5% of CEOs are women.
  • Women are concentrated in clerical roles – 60.6% of administrative staff are women.

The forum also included presentations from government and stevedore executives.

Sneha Chatterjee, Chief Superintendent, Australian Border Force (ABF) gave a presentation focused on the Australian Trusted Trader Program and provided personal insights on opportunities and challenges faced by women in management positions.

It is all about changing culture. In what was a traditional male dominated workforce, the ABF has evolved with a focus on utilising women in key management roles. The ABF has demonstrated an ability to adapt in more ways than one, moving away from a “controlling” to a “trusted” environment whereby business entities that can demonstrate a secure supply chain will receive operational benefits.

Interestingly, Sneha highlighted that the ATT account management team has a large contingent of women leading this important reform. These ladies bring to their roles effective communication, lateral thinking, high organisation and excellent listening skills to ascertain their clients’ needs.

While we thought that the ABF had a traditionally male dominated workforce, what about our waterside worker environment?

Paul Scurrah CEO, DP World Australia discussed the “Our Compass” program implemented to improve respect within the workplace based on the four pillars of Respect, Pride, Courage and Gratitude.  A “no swearing” policy was a starting point in creating a workplace of mutual respect. Another frontier is that women are now “wharfies”. Paul proudly showcased an example of a father and daughter working alongside each other at Port Botany. Extending this change in culture, DP World staff also support White Ribbon Australia in the prevention of violence against women. This workplace culture not only benefits staff but carries through to their families and the community in general.

Changing culture in the workplace are often difficult conversations to start, however many companies are beginning to undertake change management strategies to achieve diversity within their businesses. WGEA statistics reveal that 62.5% of employers within our sector have an overall gender equality policy and 22.9% have completed a pay gap analysis in the last twelve months.

As a society and in business we must embrace religious, cultural, ethnic and gender diversity. FTA & WISTA would like to thank our major sponsor Insync Personnel and the men and women that attended the forum. We encourage more managers to attend next year’s forum and begin this important conversation with your female staff…  change cannot happen unless we all work together.

* Caroline Zalai is a co-founder and director at Freight & Trade Alliance

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