I am a woman that started working in the logistics industry in 1992. I’ve seen many changes over the years, but not nearly enough concerning more women entering the logistics industry. Over the years, I’ve encountered many more men than women in our industry. During the 1990’s I would often receive what I considered a gender biased remark from a few males in the logistics industry. I often encountered “the good ole boy” network of shipping managers as well. In 1999, I started my own freight brokerage business. As the face of the company, I was responsible for getting out there and generating new business. I was persistent and consistent in this pursuit. I was determined to make my business successful. When I finally received business from a new male customer, I often received a backhanded compliment such as “You did better than I thought you would”. Once these same male shipping managers experienced the logistics services I offered, I was able to grow my business substantially with their assistance. On many occasions, they introduced me to their vendors who also had shipping needs and recommended my logistics services, thus allowing my business to grow.
According to the department of labor, women only comprise 14 percent of the management roles in transportation. I would love to see this percentage reach 50 percent or greater. When I entered a male-dominated industry, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t achieve my goals. Having confidence and believing in myself was an absolute necessity to achieving a successful career. We women need to leverage our strengths. For example, many women are good at being more organized, being better listeners, being better communicators and having better bonding and connection abilities than our male counterparts. I’ve seen women freight agents flourish in building strong customer and carrier relationships because they understand their shipper’s needs and communicate well with their carriers.
As a woman, it is imperative that we know our industry frontwards and backwards. To be successful, we must have the same or even more knowledge than our male counterparts. Once your knowledge is demonstrated on the job, your male counterparts and customers will want to work with you more often. Knowledge is power. Once your knowledge is well known in our industry, don’t be afraid to self-promote. Self-promotion seems to be an area our male counterparts have no problem with and we should not either. A Proctor & Gamble study found that men typically oversell their abilities while women undersell theirs. Let the world know about your logistics knowledge, such as your commitment to your customers and carriers, your outstanding service record of on-time pickups and deliveries, your ability to procure any type of freight equipment to service your customer’s needs and your commitment to honest and ethical logistics practices. This will only enhance your business and help make it successful.
I believe in helping other people, male or female. Both men and women have assisted me along the way and I certainly want to pay it forward. If you have an opportunity to help another woman in the logistics industry, I encourage you to assist her. There is a great need for women in leadership roles throughout our industry. This would help close the gap and help more female entrants into the logistics industry. Let’s see if we can move beyond the 14 percent and make the logistics industry a more welcoming platform for other women. The future of our industry depends on bringing in new perspectives and more diversity. This will only strengthen the logistics industry. #FreightBroker #LogisticsManagement
By Lisa Fouts, Owner of Cargo Transit, Inc.