Have you ever heard of the "talent war"? This term, used at the end of the 90's to describe a shortage of resources or skills and the difficulties in hiring and retaining the best employees, is today more relevant than ever. With the growing success of e-commerce - which jumped 15.1% in 2021 compared to 2020 in France and 16.2% worldwide over the same period - the number of orders to be processed is constantly increasing. In contrast, there is a shortage of talent to support this growth. This is particularly the case in the Transport and Logistics sector, which is little known, not particularly visible and suffers from an unattractive image.
Although the issue of diversity among their teams is above all a social matter, companies have also clearly understood that embracing a multitude of talents has also become an economic issue and a necessity. Those that promote inclusion are seeing a positive impact on their performance and view it as the key to their business success. According to a study by Deloitte (Diversity and Inclusion, January 2020), companies that practice an inclusive policy generate up to 30% more revenue per employee and higher profitability than their competitors.
The talent shortage is already a reality in the logistics field. In 2020, 92% of transport and logistics employers surveyed by ManpowerGroup believed they would have difficulty recruiting.
With the rapid growth of e-commerce, more and more people are needed to manage, store and deliver goods. Some professions are particularly in demand, such as forklift operators who manage the flow of goods in warehouses, order pickers or logistics dispatch bay managers and inventory clerks who prepare orders for each customer. The pace is fast, with little change, which represents a challenge for employers looking to retain their workforce and remain attractive...
It's essential to focus on skills, leaving aside other considerations related to the identity of the applicants... Does this seem obvious to you?
In theory, everyone obviously wants to avoid discrimination. This is even a legal requirement in many countries. In the United States, the Civil Rights Act prohibits any differentiation based on skin color, gender, origin, or religion. The French labor code incorporates similar provisions.
But in practice, many often unconscious biases persist, often due to habit and convenience. Encouraging diversity within your teams is not always easy. It’s necessary to confront the legacy of established practices and one's own preconceived ideas and to look beyond them, by recruiting women in professions mainly occupied by men, for example. In the same way, we may hesitate to hire young professionals, who require more time to become fully operational. However, the younger generations see transport and logistics as sectors where the work is meaningful: the added value they bring to each delivery is undeniable, and youngsters understand the challenges and benefits of online sales and delivery.
By recruiting the right person, in the right place, based on his or her skills and the meaningfulness of the work, companies can be sure of performance, but also of motivation. Indeed, we observe greater commitment from employees when they realize their full potential and fully appreciate the added value they bring through their work.
A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that an inclusive corporate culture results in a sense of inclusion and satisfaction, increased productivity, and commitment, which generates 19% more innovation and higher margins than other companies. "Those who say they are happy at work are 1.5 times more likely to state that they always want to do their best. On the other hand, dissatisfied employees are 4.6 times more likely to state that they are likely to leave their employer in the next six months", explains Les Echos.
The improvement to the overall collective intelligence of the organization will also benefit its clients, who will derive added value from inclusiveness, even more when this is envisaged in a sustainable, long-term manner. The term "sustainable value" illustrates this concept well.
In a book dedicated to this subject, author and professor Chris Laszlo believes that companies that "do things right" in terms of social justice, environment, and CSR in general, are those that do best. For him, inclusiveness is one of the factors that give companies competitive advantages in the long term.
These policies need to be successfully implemented in each organization. The example of gender equality in the recruitment process speaks for itself.
As The Conversation pointed out, "historically, the logistics industry has been a male-dominated sector". In the transport sector, women account for only 2% of employees. In the logistics sector, they accounted for 17% of the workforce in 2014 according to the INSEE.
There are relatively few more recent studies on the subject, but between 2016 and 2019, Awesome and Gartner noted a "feminization" of these professions, while pointing to the persistent underrepresentation of women in management positions. Among senior supply chain managers, only 29% are female.
Several measures can be taken to encourage parity in the work environment. They concern the arduousness of the work in particular, with measures to adapt workstations. Tasks can be automated to make them more accessible to everyone.
Adapting working hours is also an interesting measure. This concerns night hours, but also paternity and maternity leave or the number of paid vacations, etc.
Finally, it's important to focus on combating misconceptions. As we mentioned earlier, the idea that the logistics sector is a male preserve is still widely encountered. The implementation of programs encouraging women to apply for jobs helps to counteract this. These include wage gap reduction programs, mentoring programs and the promotion of female role models, workshops to promote their talents, their appointment to positions of responsibility, labels such as the GEEIS (Gender Equality European & International Standard), or parity indicators that allow managers who encourage parity to obtain their performance bonus.
Thanks to a combination of these measures, 37% of GEODIS' team members were women in 2017, including 13% of top executives. In 2020, the percentage of women in management positions in the group reached 18%. In 2021, it was 20%, with a target of 25% for 2023.
Inclusiveness is obviously not limited to gender equality. It must be considered comprehensively and can also concern people with disabilities or visible minorities
When looking to foster the right skills in the right place for better customer service, it's important to overcome preconceived ideas about disabled people.
In the United States, GEODIS has recruited people with autism for jobs that require a very high level of concentration, with relatively repetitive tasks. These employees possess enhanced abilities for the performance of these missions. They have also proved to be particularly diligent, punctual, versatile, autonomous, and committed to observing instructions.
And so, inclusion does not mean less efficiency. On the contrary, when everyone's special characteristics are taken into account, that's when you achieve the best performance and create the best employee experience.
Following the initial trials, several people with disabilities have signed permanent employment contracts at GEODIS, in other countries as well as at Satolas-et-Bonce in France, in partnership with the integration association Messidor.
The winning combination is finally here. Companies must value skills, inclusion and motivation for the benefit of their business. Everything else is secondary. Some changes are obviously necessary, but they enable us to lay the foundations for lasting and sustainable success.
For this reason, we encourage you to go beyond the legal requirements of the country in which you operate. By going further and developing a true diversity culture within your company, you'll reap real benefits...