The Growing Phenomenon of Women Leaders in Logistics

Their skills is what this “male society desperately needs."

By Yasmin Al Heialy

 

Logistics is a time-consuming and demanding business, and workers need innovative minds for this kind of work. Nour Suliman, CEO of DHL Express MENA explains that he “think[s] women stand a very good chance of growing in this business as they bring to the table new sets of skills and angles on things that this male society desperately needs.”

 

In the Middle East, and in especially the logistics field, which is traditionally considered a male-dominated industry, “female presence is rapidly increasing and taking on successful leadership posts, and in DHL we have plenty of success stories across the board of strong women in influential roles such as CFOs, Program Managers, CSR and Sales,” says Henry Fares, Vice President of Human Resources at DHL Express MENA.

“If a person is determined to succeed they will succeed regardless of his or her gender.”

- Henry Fares

 

Gender diversity is success

When asked, if women are being encouraged to help grow the UAE’s economy in the supply chain and logistics industry, Suliman says that “all industries have come to realize how important diversity is for the continuous success of their business, and to be able to increase your pool of thoughts and stay ahead with innovative ideas - this includes gender diversity, and logistics and supply chain realize that too.”

 

When it comes to the evolution of the supply chain, and from his own observations and what he came across in industry articles, Fares explains that it is evident that women are increasingly playing a vital part. He says that “in order to succeed you need to be sure you are reaching your full potential, and that happens when you cover all facets of your market; including different angles and views on how to get things done. Women make up a large percentage of our population, and it sounds to me like a big mistake not to tap into the set of skills and ideas that they would bring to the business.”

 

The female participation in DHL's (MENA) workforce

From 2013 to 2015 the percentage of women in middle to senior management roles at DHL more than doubled to 226%. “We also have a large number of females joining us in junior positions across all divisions and departments which promises a new generation of female managers in the near future,” adds the CEO. 

 

The percentage of females across DHL global, as well as MENA operations

NS: we don’t have the latest figures on this since this type of data is difficult to frequently update in a company the size of DHL. The thing about DHL is that it is truly global; when you operate in 220 territories and countries around the world with such a diverse talent pool it is really difficult to see differences, we don’t see gender, or color or age, what we look for is the individual that can embrace our culture, and work well in our team. In my view we don’t need a quota for females in the work place; they just naturally belong in the job if they qualify for it.

 

“Encouraging and embracing diversity in human capital is the defining line between a good company and a great one.”

- Henry Fares

 

Growing the female talent in the logistics industry

HF: Female talents like all employees at DHL sit through an extensive training of the Certified International Program (CIS). CIS has been a fundamental factor in the recent strong performance of DHL Express; it has helped reinforce and reinvigorate the company’s corporate culture, equip our employees with fundamental skills in cross-border shipping, and focus their attention on international growth.

 

Is DHL (MENA) leading the way to more industry changes by empowering its female workforce?

NS: I think we host a very welcoming environment for females, highlighted by mutual respect, openness, honesty and the spirit of trust in which all colleagues can fulfill their full potential.

 

HF: Fostering diversity is of strategic importance to us and we have adopted multiple activities in the form of mentoring programs and gender reports to help preserve this culture of ‘acceptance’. The Corporate Board of Management adopted a “Diversity & Inclusion Statement” on June 28, 2013. This statement is intended to increase awareness of the importance of diversity and enshrine such awareness within the company.

 

The Women’s Program and DHL Women’s Network explained by the experts

NS: We have established that we consider diversity not only a necessity, but indeed one of our main strengths. But in order for it to become a reality we need to promote our industry to women. Some females might think that there is no room for them in this industry, so by developing these programs to reach out to them, we made it our business to correct that perception.

 

HF: Both initiatives were developed under the Women in Leadership program that we commenced three years ago with the objective of attracting more female employees into our workspace, and to promote the friendly and accepting environment that we enjoy, as well as providing mentorship and development programs.

 

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