Celebrating Women in Warehouse and Logistics

Anyone working in logistics will not be surprised to learn that it is a male-orientated industry. Although figures are not exact, it is estimated that the logistics industry employs over 2 million people, yet women only represent around 20% of women in warehouse and logistics.

Here at SEMA, we want to make those figures change so we’re taking the opportunity this International Women’s Day to shine a spotlight on some of the amazing women working in our SEMA Member companies!

What is the significance of International Women’s Day?

Celebrated annually on the 8th of March, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day which aims to celebrate women’s achievements and call for a positive change in advancing women.

This event has a long history with the first IWD starting in 1911! Since then, the success of the day has grown to allow women to have their voice. To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day (link to website) their campaign theme is Inspire Inclusion to help forge a better, more inclusive world.

SEMA Members Inspirational Women

Name:

Megan Mountain

Company:

Rack-Master Storage Systems Ltd

Job:

SEMA Approved Racking Inspector

What is the male/female ratio in your company?

I would say approximately 70/30

Why did you join the logistics industry?

This was a brand new opportunity for me and a chance to work and challenge myself in an industry I knew nothing about.

How does it feel to be a woman in this industry?

When turning up to complete a racking survey, most people expect me to be male, but only being 25 in a male-led industry makes me feel refreshed and empowered! I have worked in the industry for 5 years now and delivering high-quality surveys makes me feel like I have so much to give, especially when I have plenty more years to further expand my knowledge.

How have you seen gender equality change in your work?

In my role, I’m out visiting new sites every week. Every year I see more and more progress. There are now more women wanting to join typically male-led industries such as engineering, construction and architecture for example. I hope this growth continues and that we see more women wanting to get involved and bring diversity to all work environments.

What advice would you give to women entering the industry?

Go for it. Surprisingly, a lot of men find it refreshing to see more and more women coming into a male-dominated industry.

What do you feel is missing or can be improved for women in warehouse and logistics?

I think a lot of women don’t want to be the only woman in the workplace. However, if it is shown or even advertised to them that the industry is changing then I believe more women would be inclined to go for a different position.

Name:

Jenna Baker

Company:

Rapid Racking

Job:

Project Coordinator

What is the male/female ratio in your company?

In the warehouse, as you would expect, the majority are male but across the departments and at manager levels it is more mixed.

Why did you join the logistics industry?

When I was looking for a new job role, I was looking for something that had a progression opportunity, something I’d not had previously. When I got an interview with Rapid, I was inspired by the two ladies who interviewed me, who had started in a sales role and progressed to their current positions. This is what mainly drew me to Rapid Racking.

How does it feel to be a woman in this industry?

Rapid Racking has a culture where each individual is appreciated for their own skills, strengths, and performance. So, within the team at Rapid I don’t find that being female is any different.

We do occasionally get some customers call in (obviously asking about racking and shelving) and they ask to talk to a man because they would know more about it. But we all have the same product training! Luckily, it’s not very often and once you start talking to customers they do quickly realise you have the product knowledge.

What are the key achievements you’ve made in your role?

I’m currently on a 12-month development plan at Rapid. At the moment I am taking leadership of the Project Coordination team and then I will get the chance to develop and progress my career. Rapid is very good at that, if an opportunity arises and you want to progress, they will try and make that happen from someone within the team. As far as I have seen they want to progress their team based on individual performance rather than gender.

What progress have you seen in gender equality in your life and work?

When I was at school there was a lot of talk about the glass ceiling. As the years have gone on, we are now seeing women breaking through into senior management roles, as well as seeing more women working in areas which may have before traditionally been seen as male roles.

I think one of the benefits which came following the Covid-19 pandemic is the transition of many companies to hybrid working and flexible working. This transition has helped break down the barriers of juggling family and work commitments.

What advice would you give to women entering the industry?

Find a company that has a culture where it's based on an individual's performance rather than gender. Also, if you want the opportunity to make progression don't be afraid to ask for it because the right company would support that and give any training and mentoring to make it happen.

Name:

Nicola Charing

Company:

Warehouse Systems Ltd

Job:

Marketing Manager

What is the male/female ratio in your company?

Around 35% of the workforce is female.

How does it feel to be a woman in this industry?

My focus is to contribute to the success of the team. Whilst it is historically male-dominated, collaboration with male colleagues and dipping into their knowledge and expertise has helped me develop my own. It has helped me make meaningful contributions to the business.

Irrespective of gender I do feel recognised for my contributions as an individual.

What are the key achievements you’ve made in your role?

I've gained valuable insights from my team, and completing the CIM marketing course has significantly enhanced my skills. This combination has enabled me to produce great blogs and develop the content on our website. As a result, we've received lots of positive feedback from our customers who engage with our content and reach out to us in relation to them.

I believe my biggest achievement is learning the ins and outs of racking, including its safety aspects, and the factors that are important to our customers. By having a thorough understanding of this, I can confidently communicate this information to both potential and existing customers, ensuring they are well-informed.

What progress have you seen in gender equality in your life and work?

Around 35% of the workforce is female and two are in key positions. Currently, our managing director and sales director serve as great examples of the diversity in key leadership roles within our company.

What advice would you give to women entering the industry?

Go for it. Male or female take advantage of your colleague's knowledge to learn as much as you can. When I started here, I knew pallet racking as just racking. I didn't know the different types or the safety aspects or anything like that. I’ve learned a lot and that's just from my team.

What do you feel is missing or can be improved for women in warehouse and logistics?

Encourage diversity and leadership like we are doing here and a culture that recognises the unique contributions of individuals regardless of gender. I suppose in the industry, everyone should feel empowered to progress in their careers.

Name:

Emma Hughes

Company:

Rack-Master Storage Systems Ltd

Job:

Administrator and Accounts

What is the male/female ratio in your company?

Approximately 30% are female.

Why did you join the industry?

I shifted from recruitment to a role that allowed me to continue working with accounts, which I already had experience in. It was a perfect fit for me.

How does it feel to be a woman in the industry?

It feels amazing and I enjoy it. I’ve had some experience with surveying with Megan who is our SEMA Approved Racking Inspector, and it felt very strange because the field seems very male-orientated. Megan mentioned she that she doesn't encounter many women surveyors in her line of work.

What are the key achievements you have made?

Since joining the company, I have learned so much. My main achievements would be mastering new computer systems and deepening my understanding of both my role and the industry. Working in the racking industry I feel a lot more confident than I did a year ago. I’ve been able to pick up lots of knowledge and skills along the way.

What progress have you seen in gender equality in your life and work?

A lot, especially life, which has come a long way in the last 10 years. Also, going into work roles, 10/20 years ago I probably wouldn’t have seen women in the industry, so it has evolved.

What advice do you give to women entering the industry?

Not to be afraid of going into something new and go for it. Go for what you want to do.

Name:

Nicola Harris

Company:

Rack-Master Storage Systems Ltd

Job:

Service Department Director

What is the male/female ratio in your company?

Approximately 30% are female.

Why did you join the industry?

I fell into it, to be honest. My skills initially were drawing with CAD.

How does it feel to be a woman this industry?

It was difficult when I joined, as I was out on site regularly, in a mainly male environment. Interestingly, not much has changed since then. It really does depend on the age of the client, as I think the older generation still finds it difficult to work with women.

What are the key achievements you have made?

Becoming a company Director.

What progress have you seen in gender equality in your life and work?

It’s definitely a better mix of women now. Although, I do believe it is still male-dominant.

What advice do you give to women entering the warehouse and logistics industry?

Be strong and stand up for yourself. Have confidence in what you say, to make the client at ease.

What do you feel is missing or can be improved for women in warehouse and logistics?

Introducing a better range of on-site women’s PPE. By offering PPE specifically designed for women, not only does this ensure a better fit and enhanced comfort but it can also demonstrate the increased diversity within the racking industry.

Name:

Dominika Fiodorow

Company:

Connect Storage Systems Ltd

Job:

Design & Sales

When did you join the company?

I originally joined Connect in 2017 and worked for them for just over 3 and a half years, however, I decided to pursue a slightly different career path, leading me to leave Connect temporarily. In 2023, I seized the opportunity to return to Connect and currently, I am proud to be part of the Design & Sales team.

What is the male/female ratio in your company?

75% male to 25% female.

Why did you join the industry?

I joined the industry after graduating in Architecture and exploring various roles within the construction sector (I basically sought a more diverse and hands-on experience within the industry). My skills in surveying, drawing buildings, and proficiency in CAD made me an asset with transferable abilities. When the opportunity arose to join Connect, I was brought in to support the Design Manager. As I delved deeper into my role at Connect, I discovered the excitement of working in sales, which gradually became a significant aspect of my job.

How does it feel to be a woman in this industry?

Being a woman in the construction industry comes with its challenges, given that it's predominantly male-dominated. It's not uncommon for me to encounter surprise when I arrive on-site to discuss racking or other inquiries. However, I've found that most of my customers judge me based on my knowledge and experience rather than my gender.

That being said, I have encountered instances of sexist behaviour in the past, for example, there was a customer who consistently tried to exclude me from discussions and preferred to speak with male colleagues instead, despite my involvement in the project and my expertise in the field. While these instances are not very frequent, they highlight that there are still challenges for women in the industry that need to be addressed.

What are the key achievements you have made?

Over the 5 years with Connect I've gained invaluable insights not only about racking systems but also about warehouses as a whole. I've been involved in a wide range of projects from small-scale installations to large warehouse fit outs comprising racking, mezzanine floors, partitioning, etc. Handling these projects, particularly the larger ones, has been immensely satisfying! Also, building lasting relationships with suppliers and customers is also a key achievement for me and I take huge pride in expanding our client base and fostering new partnerships.

What progress have you seen in gender equality in your life and work?

Throughout my career in the construction industry, I've consistently observed the presence of other women, indicating a presence of gender diversity in the workforce.

What advice do you give to women entering the industry?

Entering the construction industry as a woman may seem scary at first, but I do believe that gender should never be a barrier to pursuing one's career aspirations. While some may perceive the industry as challenging for women, I've found it to be a rewarding and fulfilling environment. My advice to women entering the industry is simple: embrace your skills, expertise, and passion, and let them guide your journey. Don't let stereotypes or preconceptions hold you back from pursuing your goals. Remember, your gender should never define your capabilities or limit your potential and you have just as much right to thrive and succeed in this field as anyone else.

What do you feel is missing or can be improved for women in warehouse and logistics?

I feel like one notable issue is the lingering presence of old-school attitudes toward women's roles within the industry. Despite progress, some companies may still hold onto outdated perspectives on where women "belong" which can create barriers to advancement and equal opportunities. There is almost an expectation that women will be in roles such as administrative work rather hands-on, physical roles. Whether this is due to personal preference or something else, I think that it's essential to foster an environment where women feel empowered to pursue a broader range of roles within the industry.

Perhaps the solution is to implement initiatives to provide support, training, and mentorship opportunities tailored to women interested in the more 'physical' roles. By promoting inclusivity and breaking down stereotypes, we can create a more diverse and equitable employment climate where women feel valued and empowered to pursue their full potential in all aspects of the construction sector.