Hiring Women In Warehousing
But the idea of getting more women into this particular workforce isn’t a new one. Since technology has changed the very landscape of warehousing there has been a significant call for more women to come into it. But what’s the hold-up? Today we’ll explore more about why women may still be hesitant.
The Current Landscape
Since its beginning Warehousing was considered more of a job people fell into, rather than strove to join. It lacked clear career growth paths and was often not seen to be the vital industry it is until the worldwide pandemic demonstrated it to be. In recent years warehousing has become much more than just heavy lifting or picking and packing lines. Logistics and strategy have begun to play a major role, roles women often find more suited to their career path.
However. research now suggests that de-genderised leadership teams work better as they bring together a diverse perspective and more effective decision making. A move towards gender equality has also improved a companies chance to attract great talent and keep them engaged. What all HR managers desire.
Consideration of the Warehousing Role
Legacy roles in the workforce often require skill sets that traditionally appeal to male employees. Such as reasonable fitness levels, ability to work continuously for long shifts, and a certain amount of strength for loading of vans. They are also required to work in shifts, operate forklifts, work outside in unpleasant conditions and often suffer from back problems.
These considerations in no means hold a woman back from working in Warehousing, but if they have children and childcare issues, don’t have the physical stamina or struggle with managing heavy machinery the role will not be suitable.
More than moving and lifting
However, as technology has evolved and processes have become automated, the skill sets required of the workforce have changed. Where once physical strength and stamina were the main criteria, now logical thinking and strategic management have stepped into the forefront. Skills that women often excel in.
Supply chain management and leadership roles require excellent business management experience, as well as high proficiency in mathematics. Both skills which can be obtained by all genders, and in particular, candidates who can problem solve, communicate, multi-task, organise and think innovatively will thrive in modern-day warehousing.
STEM & Paths Into Warehousing
If the roles are there and women have the skills why aren’t more women working in Warehousing? Well simply put, many don’t get a taste for it early on in life and still see the industry as the physical and tiring one of old.
Many initiatives have been introduced over the years to tackle this issue, such as showcasing role models in the industry, creating networking opportunities and providing access to specialist degrees.
Companies also venture into schools and provide work experience opportunities to young girls in the career deciding stage of life. This early exposure to STEM (Science, Technical and Medical) is proven to increase the number of women who join the career path into industries like Warehousing.
The Challenges of a Male-Dominated industry
There are a number of challenges that continue to hold back the de-generalisation of any previously male-dominated industry such as societal expectations, beliefs about women’s leadership abilities, outdated stereotypes i.e. the mother role. Lack of mentoring and career development, as well as higher rates of sexual harassment, make the industry a challenging one to become part of.
Coping mechanisms to such an environment also have their disadvantages for Women, such as distancing from female co-workers, working in isolation, acting more like one of the ‘guys’, and eventually leaving the company.
Taking the next step involves getting women into positions of leadership that are visible and ensuring they are heard. Companies must create supportive environments, which encourage women to grow and apply for career-advancing roles. Ultimately creating a culture that all types of talent lean towards.
Providing flexible working hours, as well as onsite childcare for all workers with a family is a must. Access to education and training is also key, as well as connecting female employees to mentors. Warehousing is going to continue to grow and need more people who think in different ways, and hiring more women is the perfect solution.
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