Women in logistics: status quo & opportunities

Logistics is still considered a man’s world today, as the industry has so far failed to recruit and promote more female specialists and managers. But what exactly is it that keeps women from working in logistics? And what are the opportunities that diversity could offer the sector? The Federal Logistics Association (BVL) investigated these issues on behalf of transport logistic. Learn more about the most important facts and the results of the study.

An analysis of BVL and transport logistic

The fact that women are still poorly represented in the logistics sector is not due to their qualifications. It is rather the corporate culture that decides whether women are attracted by logistical fields of activity. And the sector still lacks role models.

These are the findings of a member survey and individual interviews that the Federal Logistics Association (BVL) conducted on behalf of transport logistic in April 2019. The aim was to gather impressions from the everyday life of women in logistics—apart from the debate about women in business and in management positions.

During the fair, which took place in Munich from June 4 to 7, 2019, the topic was discussed in the session “Man’s world?! Opportunities for and with ladies in logistics.”

The Federal Logistics Association

The Federal Logistics Association (BVL) was founded in 1978 and is a non-profit, neutral and primarily honorary organization. Having more than 11,200 members, the platform forms a bridge between business and science for managers of logistics in industry, trade and services as well as for scientists and students. Furthermore, it serves as a national and international platform for managers from logistics and supply chain management to exchange ideas.

Women in logistics: status quo

Until today, across all sectors there still is a difference between men’s and women’s professional positions and the time scope of the work. Only 8.6 percent of the executive positions in DAX companies are held by women.

The situation is similar for women in the logistics sector

  • in the logistics, transport and traffic industries, the proportion of women was 20.7 percent in 2017
  • excluding drivers, the share of female employees in the sector is 28.7 per cent
  • among the top 100 German logistics companies, only 18.6 percent have a woman in the management board

Also interesting: the fields of activity. Currently, women in logistics are still predominantly found in classic office jobs such as in controlling, purchasing or human resources. But thanks to its steady growth and greater integration of high-quality logistics services into the value chain of industry and trade, the logistics sector offers men and women a wide range of career opportunities.

In addition, characteristics and skills that tend to have a "female" connotation—such as flexibility, service orientation, conscientious goal attainment, teamwork, efficiency, decision and conflict management—are ideal for working strategically and responsibly in organizations. Studies also show that greater diversity has a positive effect on corporate success.

Only a few women in the logistics industry: the reasons

With its study, BVL has obtained an impression of the prevailing stereotypes of women in logistics. This confirmed the perception that the logistics sector is currently still a man’s world.

However, the fact that only a few management positions in logistics are filled by women is hardly questioned and is often justified by a lack of assertiveness and a supposedly lower self-confidence of women. In the public eye, logistics is also often associated with physical work, which is why it is far behind in women's career aspirations.

Professions in logistics: a wide range of opportunities for women

Digitalization is changing the world of work—and it changes the activities in logistics. Today, physical strength is no longer a prerequisite for employment in the industrial sector. In addition, the logistics industry has become more open and offers female specialists and managers many career opportunities.

Almost all women surveyed agree that logistics is an exciting field of work. Its attractiveness can continue to increase with a higher participation of women who can enrich the male domain with

  • additional empathy,
  • positive communication behavior and
  • great openness including willingness to learn.

In their comments, the respondents clearly expressed one thing: the qualifications of women in logistics are equivalent to those of male colleagues. So, the entry into logistics was not more difficult for women than for male graduates. All of them report a good start to their working lives.

Creating opportunities for women in logistics: a matter of corporate culture

Apparently, the path to logistics is difficult. Among women, there seems to be hardly any desire to become a logistician. No wonder, because there is a lack of role models for female career paths. The visibility of successful women in logistics would encourage others to take an interest in the industry as well—along the lines of "If she can see it, she can be it.” In addition, there are some changes in the industry that make companies increasingly attractive to women.

New business models in logistics

According to the study, logistics companies are already trying to adapt to changes in the professional world and to reconcile their business models with the wishes of employees—not just women. This includes:

  • more flexible working hours,
  • (life) working time accounts,
  • ergonomic workplaces,
  • individual part-time work.

Changed and encouraging job advertisements contribute the visibility.

Support programs & jobs for women in logistics

In logistics, women primarily experience support through networks and support measures such as the support program MentorMe. Classic networks such as BVL's “Ladies in Logistics” or “Women in Mobility” enable both women and men in the industry to meet, network and help each other.

There are currently over 60,000 vacancies in the logistics sector in Germany. transport logistic is an excellent opportunity both for specialists and graduates to get to know companies as potential employers and to discover job profiles, career options and chances.

Thanks to the format JobMatching*live the fair also offers a targeted matchmaking platform for a career in the international logistics industry. Watch the following videos for impressions:

Task of logistics companies: support women actively & over the long term

All participants in the study emphasize the task of companies to actively promote women in the long term—even if and although they take more family-related breaks than men. The interviewees argue that promotion and career advancement should be possible without gender bias and women's quota—because both genders want to convince through good performance. The discussion about the women's quota seems to do more harm than good. Rather, the women surveyed would like the logistics companies themselves to inspire their male colleagues to work in a diverse environment.

In addition, it is also important for logistics to achieve a shift in its image and to make it clear that—similar to crafts—it is a decisive and exciting economic sector in Germany. Companies themselves must do more for a diverse workforce and greater attractiveness as employers. In the efforts to recruit more women in logistics, the interviewees see it as the duty of individual companies and the industry as a whole to make logistics known to potential colleagues and to actively promote it.

Especially the rethinking among the mostly male workforce is a task for the corporate culture. Because: the employment of qualified women is not a problem, but an opportunity.

More information?

Would you like to know more? Here you will find the publication accompanying the session “Man’s world?! Opportunities for and with ladies in logistics” of Messe München at transport logistic.