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Today we hear from Ben Liggins, Managing Director of JBAndrews, as he speaks about gender diversity within the Logistics & Supply Chain industry.

JBAndrews are an executive search firm whose main business comes from Freight Forwarding and Contract Logistics within Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.  Ben thinks that “diversity is something clients are now starting to address more and more. Gender equality has been a hot topic across all industries but particularly Logistics & Supply Chain, where statistics back up the preconception that this is a male dominated industry. There are trends that see higher numbers of females in certain roles, for example HR, Finance, and Customer Service functions, however the overall industry percentages are shocking”.

Ben wanted to analyse these percentages and compare them to the number of males and females JBAndrews placed within the four regions mentioned above from January 2018 to now (November 2018). Of the 125 million people employed in Logistics & Supply Chain globally only 2% are female, with 20% of management roles being held by females in 2017 (dovetail.com), an improvement yet still a disappointing figure. The US and UK have some of the highest percentages of female workers in the industry, being around 22% (logisticsmgmt.com) and 25% respectively (theguardian.com).

When comparing this with the percentages of males to females placed by JBAndrews, a similar trend follows suit. We broke down the regions in which we generate the most business and looked at the split between male and female placements within each. As a percentage, in Europe only 16% of our placements have been female, North America is 29% and both Africa and Asia is 0%. Overall as a company just 16% of our global placements in the last year have been female. These figures mirror those of the industry’s workforce.

Ben’s reflection on this was mixed. He thinks that “culture in the Africa and Asia regions regarding gender equality is very different to western regions, which causes a divide and will probably continue to do so until perceptions are changed”. A trend Ben found in these regions is the amount of westerners that are in the leadership roles, he puts this down to “Africa and Asia often being seen as hardship locations that need somebody with seasoned local/regional experience from successful companies”.

His subjective opinion overall is that “although there is sexism within the Logistics & Supply Chain industry throughout all levels, the main reason for this gender divide is the perception of the industry. People don’t see logistics and supply chain as a ‘glamorous’ or ‘sexy’ industry to go into meaning it will probably attract a larger male audience. Of course this isn’t always the case as there are some champion females leading the way and acting as role models to other females looking to go into Logistics & Supply Chain. Supply Chain in particular is a very experience based industry meaning people start at the bottom in the more physical roles and work up, another reason why the industry might not always appeal to the majority of women. Sexism, I believe, is something linked to this, with people of power having this same perception and potentially favouring males because of this”.

However, Ben has found that new global statistics show the gender divide of graduates moving into the industry is starting to decrease. In fact the split is now around 65% male to 35% female (dovetail.com) which is definitely a step in the right direction. He puts that down “to the Logistics & Supply Chain embracing technology at a faster pace, making it a more attractive industry for those at entry level and above”. Here at JBAndrews we strive for diversity and hope to see equality within the industry develop as perceptions begin to change. Our plan is to review these figures each year to see if there are tangible trends across the regions. Please do let us know your thoughts on this topic!

Ben Liggins

Ben Liggins
Co-founder & Managing Director UK