Women – who have long been underrepresented in the logistics sector – are building a significant presence in the industry. Around 19% of C-level logistics executives are now women, and industry leaders now see gender empowerment as a key driver of success.
In working to accelerate this process, FedEx – the leading logistics and express transportation company – has built a policy of actively advancing women in the business and encouraging their women team members to move into roles previously considered the preserve of men.
The company also has a programme called Leadership, Education, Advancement, and Placement (LEAP) to prepare aspiring women team members for management roles and has mandated policies in place to maintain a bias-free work environment.
Through such programmes, and by offering women professionals a wider range of opportunities, FedEx is working to create rewarding career paths for its team members, which improves retention – an emerging industry challenge.
“Our mission is to be as diverse as the world we serve,” says Natasha Parmanand, managing director of FedEx Express Sub-Saharan Africa operations. “We actively encourage women to assume roles that were previously male dominated. From FedEx frontliners and couriers to pilots, FedEx women are making a difference across the organization and challenging biases around women in logistics.”
Flying the flag
An example of this policy in action is first officer and pilot Stefanie Lee, who has been part of the FedEx family for seven years, flying 777s on long-range routes. Since joining the company, she has gone on to raise a family as a single mother, while excelling in her professional life.
“In my career, I faced several challenges from those who thought I couldn’t be a single mother and still fly. I pushed through those barriers – and am happy to say I’ve now been flying for 19 years, seven of those with FedEx.”
Stefanie’s advice to women who would like to follow in her footsteps is to “Let your performance speak for itself. It’s the best way to combat biases anyone may have. Be your best self. Treat people with dignity and respect.”
Ground force of change
While Stefanie flies the flag as part of the flight operations crew, Johannesburg-based FedEx courier Doreen Mashashane is challenging gender stereotypes from the ground up.
“I chose to work in an environment traditionally dominated by males, in order to help correct the gender imbalance in courier roles,” reveals Doreen. “I want to show other women frontline workers that we are all equipped to excel in any role, and that our possibilities are not limited by our gender.”
Cape Town courier
Also breaking gender boundaries is Cape Town courier Jamie-Lee Cozyne. When she first started working in the logistics industry, delivery was a space traditionally filled by men. Now, that is rapidly changing – and Jamie-Lee is one of the faces of that change.
“I chose to become a courier because I enjoy the challenge of doing what for many years was perceived to be a man’s job,” says Jamie-Lee. “But working at FedEx, I feel like I’m a key part of the team. I’m not treated differently because I’m a woman.”
Parmanand says inspirational women like Lee, Cozyne, and Mashashane are helping to strengthen FedEx, as a diverse, inclusive organization that reflects the demographics of the countries where it operates.
“These are just examples of a handful of the exceptional women at FedEx who are breaking biases every day all around the world,” says Parmanand. “Their contribution extends well beyond their own careers. They are helping to pave the way for even more women to take up roles within the logistics industry, proving that this industry is not just for men.”
“Building an inclusive work culture, without bias, is the first step to helping women thrive across the business,” concludes Parmanand. “It’s up to every one of us to give women the support, flexibility, and opportunities they need to continue to succeed.”