Ruth Edwards, is Business Development Director at Talent in Logistics, the delivery partner for Big Logistics Diversity Challenge 2020.
There can be no doubt that the logistics sector is facing a potentially catastrophic skills shortage. One of the most effective ways to combat this is to recruit from all available talent pools. However, in order to do this, the sector must promote itself as an attractive career option to a wider range of candidates.
What does diversity look like?
There are two main categories of diversity: inherent diversity, which encompasses race, sex and age; and acquired diversity, which covers factors such as education, experience, values, skills and knowledge.
UK legislation is already in place to ensure employers do not discriminate against candidates because of age, disability, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. If your organisation meets these requirements, you may think that's enough. However, the aim of your workplace should be to draw talent from a number of backgrounds in order to reflect the makeup of society, and this means more than just meeting minimum legal requirements.
Five steps to developing a diverse recruitment approach:
1. Something as simple as more carefully worded job postings can increase the diversity of candidates applying for posts. Review job adverts for any biased wording and look objectively at your talent attraction methods. Do the images and videos on recruitment webpages and other branded resources reflect diversity and inclusivity?
2. Introduce a blind CV/interview system. This process of removing identification details from CVs and applications will ensure candidates are evaluated purely on their skills and experience rather than factors that could potentially lead to biased decisions.
3. Ensure organisational policies are in place to make sure all employees are treated fairly. If you do not already have one, put together a document that sets out your commitment to promoting equality and diversity in your workplace, particularly in areas like recruitment, training and pay. You may also want to introduce formal diversity training for all employees.
4. Review data on pay, progression and employee survey measures, or collect data to understand whether current employees feel the organisation is inclusive. This will help you to identify barriers to progression.
5. Embrace flexible working arrangements. Many highly skilled people leave the workforce mid-career; for example, to care for children; and this can result in a lack of diversity within many organisations. Ensure jobs allow flexibility, then review or implement flexible working policies.
When these steps are followed, you will start to see change happen organically, because diversity attracts diversity.
Why does it matter?
The need to broaden the appeal of the logistics sector as an employer has never been more vital. It was reported in the 2019 FTA Logistics Skills Report
that 89.8% of workers describe themselves as ethnically white; therefore, only 10.2% of the logistics workforce within the UK is from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. The logistics sector continues to be dominated by male workers (86.8%) and only 1% of Large Goods Vehicle drivers are female. With 80% of millennials believing that diversity and inclusion within an organisation is an important factor when deciding which company to work for, the culminating result is that many young, female and BAME candidates do not consider ours a desirable sector to work in. With the industry already feeling the effects of an ever-widening skills gap, this is a problem that can no longer be ignored.
A diverse workforce will bring its own rewards in terms of increasing cultural awareness, sensitivity, creativity and productivity, but to reap the full benefits of a diverse workforce, it's vital to create a truly inclusive environment where everyone can fulfil their potential.