gender pay © Syda Productions
© Syda Productions

The forwarding industry – along with many others – is under pressure following the UK’s gender pay gap (GPG) survey.

However, companies are at pains to point out that men and women are paid the same for comparable jobs.

In Panalpina’s gender pay gap report, the numbers “demonstrate in no uncertain terms that the GPG is caused by where men and women are found within the organisation and not on how much men and women on the same level and/or job, are paid.”

While there is a likelihood that numbers are calculated differently among different organisations, overall the figures appear to show that the multinationals have fewer women in higher-paid roles than smaller UK companies.

Those companies that responded to questions from The Loadstar said they realised that it was an issue of recruitment. But there may be a little more to it than that.

The management boards of the companies are significantly under-represented by women. Research carried out by The Loadstar last year showed that, of 175 people in top positions in global logistics companies, just 19 were women (11%). This falls to 7%, if you exclude the more gender-equal integrators.

According to McKinsey (2015), gender-equal companies outperform their unequal competitors by 15%, and EBIT increases by 3.5% for every 10% increase in boardroom equality.

Six of the largest forwarders have no women on the board or as senior executives, which compares with a global corporate average of 25%. Logistics is falling behind.

But the companies say they are working hard on recruitment, albeit at entry level.

CEVA UK, which was among the better of the multinationals, had a mean average pay gap of 5.7% and a median average pay gap of 10.5%. But its board is 100% male, despite its workforce in the UK being 83% male.

“The logistics sector is a male-dominated industry,” said Nicola Hartley, HR director UK, Ireland and Nordics. “Our industry has historically attracted more men than women hence the fact we are working hard in the community to promote logistics as a career and employment opportunity for everyone.

“We place significant resources on building links with schools, colleges and universities in order to broaden our gender diversity at entry level as stated in our recently published gender pay gap report.”

There is work to do. The Loadstar asked a (Felixstowe-based) 12-year-old girl what she thought about working in cargo. She said: “It sounds like a man’s job, carrying cargo everywhere.”

But when asked what she knew about ports, she added: “Ports are really cool. There are lots of different people doing different jobs there.”

Panalpina, whose board of directors has one woman out of eight members and whose executive is 100% male, added that it was reviewing its recruitment practices and would “consider unconscious bias training for those involved in recruitment”.

But it was also looking to create more attractive working conditions.

It said it would “make it easier for women to return to work after career breaks or maternity leave by introducing a truly flexible working policy, increase the availability of quality part-time or flexible arrangements at senior levels, introduce a mentoring scheme to increase the number of women in senior roles, devise development programmes targeted at women.”

Panalpina UK was among the worst offenders for its gender pay gap, with the mean average of 23.9% and a median average gap of 10.7%.

gender pay gap logistics

Source: Logistics Manager

XPO Logistics UK, meanwhile, which had a mean gap of 11% and a median average gap of 12%, said it was already seeing more women coming into logistics.

Mark Simmons, executive HR and QHSE director, said: “We’re pleased more women are advancing from middle to senior management roles at XPO. Women now account for 35% of these promotions, versus 26% three years ago. Moreover, our gender split has improved by 3% in favour of women over the last three years.”

XPO’s senior management comprises 15% women, while its board of directors has two out of eight.

DHL Global Forwarding was one of the few companies which had a short- and long-term policy to address the gender difference among the lower paid, as well as senior management. In the UK, its mean average pay gap was 17%, while the median average gap was 9%. DHL’s board lists just one female member out of seven.

Juliet Stephens, communications manager, said: “You’ll have seen in our report that the overall GPG in the lower three quartiles is significantly smaller than the overall gap, with a median gap of 2% in the lower three quartiles and a mean gap of 1.2%. In the short term we will be focusing on closing this small gap.

“This will be achieved by driving more transparency and measures of the GPG in reward processes, such as annual reviews, plus reviewing reward data by branch location and grouping different, but similar, roles with a generic role title to enable more comparisons to take place in order to ensure equality. |

“We will also focus on the take-up of additional pay elements at more junior levels, such as standby and call out payments.

“Longer-term, and affecting the upper quartiles, we will be focusing on developing our female employees to prepare them for stepping up into senior roles. For example, we have used a DHL Top Women programme and will continue with programmes designed to develop females. We are also focusing on mentoring females in station manager roles to support their career progression.”

Among UK forwarders, Clipper Logistics, which boasts 25% women among its senior team, had a mean average gap of 16.8% and a median gap of 7.6%. A spokesperson said: “We have already commenced a proactive programme of positively seeking applications from female candidates.

“We are actively engaged in a number of recruitment initiatives, including our Fresh Start programme, which not only will promote Clipper to potential female applicants, but also to differently abled persons, the learning disabled, ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed.

“Our graduate programme is having a significant impact across high schools and universities.

“We are also looking at how our female colleagues can progress in their careers with Clipper. Our Emerging and Aspiring Leaders programmes, supported by the Institute of Leadership and Management, are proving extremely popular – with a significant proportion of participants being female.”

The Loadstar asked the companies when they expected to achieve pay parity – targets mean little without deadlines. None gave any timescale for change, although DHL’s Ms Stephens explained: “We can’t realistically say when this will be, at this stage, however, we are actively focusing on both long-term and short-term steps in order to close the pay gap.”

Next: GPG in the the rail freight industry

With thanks to Logistics Manager for the chart.

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