Women in logistics breaking barriers, an emerging potential

Women leaders showing the value of diverse perspectives and are breaking barriers in an industry demanding agility and innovation. Their influence is vital for continued success of logistics sector. While gender parity and inclusion have played a major role in bringing women to mainstream in sector, still a lot needs to be done.

Ritika Arora Bhola

The logistics industry has witnessed a transformation in recent years. One of the most vital changes has been the increasing importance of women in varied roles within the field. Women have made major contributions to logistics, leading to valuable perspectives for shaping successful teams in the industry.

According to Gartner’s 2021 ‘Women in Supply Chains’ survey, women now comprise an average of 41 per cent of the supply chain workforce. This represents a growing acknowledgment of the critical role women play in the logistics industry. Even more promising is the fact 73 per cent of the supply chain organisations surveyed have set goals related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, highlighting the industry’s commitment to attracting, developing, retaining, and advancing women.

Of late, women leaders are breaking barriers and demonstrating the value of diverse perspectives in an industry that demands agility and innovation. Their influence is significant for continued success of the sector. Embracing diversity and gender balance is not just a trend, it is a mujst for the logistics industry to thrive in an a changing world.

In logistics, women are mostly found in office jobs such as in controlling, purchasing or human resources departments. But thanks to its growth and integration of high-quality logistics services into the value chain of industry and trade, the logistics sector offers men and women a wide range of career opportunities.

While the initiatives such as gender parity and inclusion have played a major role in bringing women in the mainstream in the logistics sector, there is a lot that still needs to be done to get the right talent into the sector. While making provisions for inclusion is one way by which we can bring more women into the mainstream, there is also the need for organisations and educational institutions to train women to take up complex roles in this sector.

Once we build that confidence among women to take up all types of roles in the logistics ecosystem, we will see many proactively becoming a part of this sector. It is time we realise we need to look beyond gender and have an efficient workforce.

CARGOTALK takes you through the success journeys of leading women, who have made it big in logistics and air cargo industry.


A forklift operator in GHAC, she stands as a testament to her sheer determination
Sriramoju Radhikha, Forklifter, GMR Hyderabad International Airport
Sriramoju Radhika, who has passed Class 10, rose by breaking stereotypes and pursued her dreams, and she does not let societal expectations confine her aspirations. Born in Venkatapur of Warangal district, her journey began when she heard about vocational training programmes offered by GMR Varalakshmi Foundation. Radhika, who resides in Gollapally, Shamshabad, was initially drawn to the idea of enrolling in tailoring courses.

But a visit to the foundation is all it took for her to change her mind. She loved to learn to drive but never got an opportunity to do so. Motivated by the foundation’s counsellor, she underwent a three-month training course being offered free of cost to the unemployed. Radhika got it when she took up the job of a Junior Excavator Operator. She was miffed when others around her doubted her ability to handle heavy machinery. Radhika’s perseverance shone through during the training. With each passing day, she mastered the skills needed to operate an excavator. After completing the course, she secured a job as a Forklift Operator at GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo where her day involved doing physical work and precision in handling various types of cargo.

To hone her skills, Radhika underwent a 10-day rigorous simulator training at the Volvo Training Center in Bengaluru and emerged as a competent operator and a beacon of inspiration for other women. Her success story challenges societal norms and exemplifies the impact of empowering women in non-traditional fields. Her journey from considering tailoring to becoming a skilled excavator and forklift operator stands as a testament to her sheer determination.

As Radhika dons the Forklift Operator’s cap at GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo and operates heavy machinery, she has become an example for others of how to pursue their dreams, regardless of societal pressures. Her story is not about operating excavators and forklifts, but about women breaking free and soaring to new heights.

Addressing gender diversity within particular timeframe
Celine Hourcade, President, Women in Aviation & Logistics (WAL)
Since its inception on International Women’s Day in 2021 and an established not-for-profit association, WAL drives towards gender equality. WAL’s objectives include promoting the value of gender balance at the workplace defining an industry action plan to address gender diversity, supporting transition by identifying targets and timeframes and delivering solutions for gender-focused goals. After driving a series of projects, including a mentorship scheme and creating a database of women speakers, WAL’s structure has been formalised to ensure it can continue to grow and has a good future ahead. The association is open for formal membership from corporations and individuals. It is seeking sponsorship to fund its next mentorship scheme, developing WAL database, and to be able to continue to provide benchmarking and statistics about gender balance in the industry.”

Efficiency improvement an important parameter
Donna Mullins, Vice President, Kale Info Solutions
Highlighting significant factors over the years has become an integral part of the growth process of Kale. Cybersecurity is an important aspect that must be addressed forthwith. That apart, infusing sustainable operations is important too. In addition, efficiency improvement is being looked at as an important parameter. If a logistics Information Technology solutions provider can address any of these areas, then they would survive well. To survive in this highly-competitive industry, empathy is important. Empathy is a core value, and the firm is built upon that. With a looming recession, there is a tough time and a slowdown looming in the overall market conditions. However, we learned and are continuously learning to evolve with our survival tactics. If the companies empathise and understand their customers pain points’, then they can achieve 100 per cent results.”

Global trade to improve if gaps in infra are mitigated
Ayesha Katgara, Head, Corporate Strategy, Jeena & Company
The more agile our supply chains are, the better equipped we would be to face any sort of disruptions. This can be achieved through automation and digitization. With tech, there will be something new to adopt and leverage for the sector to be at par with other industries. Many green initiatives have been taken up or are in the pipeline for reducing emissions. NLP and Gati Shakti are poised to impact the logistics sector; they focus on infra development and bridge the existing gaps in the ecosystem. Logistics is fragmented in nature and through these initiatives, it is certain we would witness improvements in efficiency and efficacy. If the existing logistical challenges are mitigated, domestic and global trade will improve. Jeena has ventured into multimodal logistics
and we see potential in coastal shipping if the infrastructural developments occur as planned.”

Women bring improvement in logistics industry
Emma Rowlands, Strategic Sales Director, Kerry Logistics UK
I have been in  the freight forwarding for the past 25 years and I love the industry as much now as when I first joined. The industry is a dynamic, exciting business to be in. It gives plenty of opportunities for any ambitious person who is happy to get stuck in. But we do not do enough as a logistics industry to tell the world and focus on attracting young talent. It does not come as a surprise that it has taken so long to start seeing improvement on the gender balance front. Times have changed for the better now, and though we are a welcoming industry, it is a slow change. We need to see more women in management roles in the industry, and we need to celebrate those who are succeeding in all parts of the supply chain. A word of advice, however, for the younger generation embarking into the industry, I would say not to worry about being in a minority, but involve yourself, work hard, and enjoy it, and you will go far.”

Their inclusion enhancing industry’s performance
Jacqueline Han Lin Ni, Area Manager, Etihad Cargo
Women are stepping into leadership roles in the logistics industry, bringing diverse perspectives and management styles. The increasing involvement of women in logistics is not only enhancing the industry’s performance, but also driving it towards an inclusive and sustainable future. Their diverse perspectives and innovative approaches are must for addressing the challenges of modern supply chains. At Etihad Cargo, 40 per cent of our employees are female. The executive leadership team at Etihad Airways is committed to build a diverse, inclusive, and equal organisation. This is evident at every level of the business and programmes launched to support this. For example, on 8 March 2020, Etihad Airways joined IATA’s’25 by 2025’ pledge to increasing its female workforce by 25 per cent. We were the first airline in the UAE to do so and provide dedicated support, and tailored opportunities to women to achieve our goal.”