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How to solve the recruitment crisis in Logistics

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Diversity Launch53-1Logistics is facing a recruitment crisis. In 2017 77% of haulage firms struggled to fill vacancies and 2018 saw a 45% increase in vacancies as logistics businesses struggle to recruit the right team. (Source: Monster UK)

But one small firm has solved this – and they say its 100% down to their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.

diamond has achieved what many in the industry fail to do so with its parity gender numbers in headcount, and even odder in its majority female board – unique in an industry where only 24% of the workforce is female and only 8% of entrepreneurial leadership is female.. And in doing so has a waiting list of applicants rather than a talent drought. Founder, Kate Lester, says its down to two key elements – distinctive inclusive culture and equal opportunities supported by proactive support of theoretically  minority team members.

However diamond are keen to state its not just about equality of the sexes, it includes age, race, family status, sexuality, religion, ability too. Age is no barrier at diamond – with an active appreciation of the ‘sage wisdom’ of their older team, and appreciation the energy of younger team. Parenthood, looking after elderly parents, whether you are male or female, doesn’t limit career options at diamond, nor does flexible working or other life choices – as long as the contribution that is made is equal to their investment in the individual.

Kate says, ‘Discrimination has a direct effect on the appeal of the logistics industry. It’s elitism and exclusion of in its mildest form, to harassment and intimidation at the severest. It’s about the closed networking shop,  onerous atmospheres and limiting people’s ability to succeed for the simple reason that they are not made in the logistics mould. It’s about behaviours that are unprofessional – aggressive even – and a culture of work hard play hard dinosaurs.

And look where that leaves us – we miss out on excellent talent in our sector because it appears onerous to our younger generations – because of its lack of diversity and modernity’.

What can businesses do to change? Kate thinks they may have a few tips they can share to help the industry.

‘We are a very purpose and values led business – this may be sniffed out by traditional transport types but it supports an ethos that is appealing to a modern workforce. We live and breathe our Values – which helps our team select the right kind of people to join us. Shared Success© is key in what we deliver for our stakeholders.

We don’t have token by lines stating we are a diverse employer – because everything from our team photos to our recruitment adverts to our team numbers show we live and breathe it’.

When the diamond team was asked to share the one thing that made diamond so different to the norm, they all spoke predominantly about empowerment of individuals.

Natalie Wainwright, Director of Network Operations confirms this, ‘By not passing judgement on anything other than their ability – with encouragement and nurturing – to be the best versions of themselves this enables our team to fulfil their ambitions via not just their employment journey, but their life journey shared with us here at diamond’.

Kate confirms, ‘At diamond diversity starts with equality, thrives on encouragement and is sustained by judgement of people purely on their maintenance of our Values and delivery of results.  Nurturing individuals and their behaviours naturally breeds those results'.

What does a proactive EDI strategy look like from a day to day perspective? Its not as difficult as some employers may fear.

Charlotte Heard, Head of HR and Exec Support says, ‘We have flexible work days so they can do school runs, part time work options for life balance reasons (all genders), employees from 18 to 64 and a predominance of 20-30 year old who are encouraged to pursue their ambitions as hard and as fast as they wish, but also as contained as they wish if they want to balance their lives in other ways. We have an incredibly diverse global culture mix in our business. We don’t tag people as old, millennial, female – this labelling is irrelevant. Its literally best person for the job. It’s all about results’.

In a period of near on zero unemployment recruiting the best is challenging. Attracting and engaging the right candidates, hiring at a speed that matches your companies growth is all about creating a strong employers brand so that people are magnetically attracted to your business. So then you don’t have to hire the best of a bad bunch – you can have the pick of today’s talent.

Logistics is not an industry that people dream of joining when they leave school – so recruitment and retention is a challenge.  Creating a diverse workplace creates a desirable workplace. If your business is inspiring, fun, flexible, and can help people achieve what they want to in life, backed by their career with you then you massively expand the pool of people wanting to work with you. You can future proof your business - ensuring innovation, succession planning, recruiting the best, continuation and growth. 

It’s also challenging retaining great teams – as an aging population retires and is replaced by a younger generation that expect to stay in jobs for 2-4 years the employee churn is expensive. Turnover is statistically higher in underrepresented groups, where a scarcity of employees like them further up the food chain can be seen as a sign that they are not welcome, or that their ambition will have a ceiling.

If that wasn’t reason enough then let’s look at a company’s performance too. As the McKinsey Report shows - ethnically diverse businesses are 35% more likely to earn above average income. Gender diverse companies 15% more likely. Teams with 50-50 gender numbers outperform teams in quality of work.

Diversity in the workplace also equips companies with the ability to connect better with their target audience – to speak their language.  A diverse workforce is essential for industries like logistics – where our client pool is more diverse than ever – from global online start-ups to retailers, healthcare, etc. To communicate you need to relate. To relate you need to understand. The more diverse your team the higher the probability that your company can speak their ‘language’, understand their needs.

Encouraging equality and diversity is not soft skills tokenism – it improves performance and secures a business’s future….. and its those compelling reasons that can ultimately persuade the middle aged white males boards that its time to move it up the agenda.

Does diamond have the answer? This is Kate’s advice, ‘The number one thing you can do in your business is to not introduce a token diversity policy but a 100% equality policy. Live it, breathe it, mean it.

And to understand this - equality is not philanthropy – it’s good for business. Today, tomorrow and for all future generations in our diverse, beautiful society’.

 To watch videos of diamonds Women in Logistics take a look here