· Features

Getting women into male-dominated sectors

A Women’s Business Council report released last month stated that increasing the number of women in the workforce would dramatically boost the UK’s economic growth. It added that if women were represented in the same numbers as men, GDP would increase by 10%.

So, how can businesses break down the barriers that are stopping women from getting into top-level positions and entering traditionally male-dominated sectors such as construction, engineering, and oil and gas?

HR magazine asked Nikki Craig (pictured), VP of HR, UK, Ireland and Nordics at DHL, for her views:

"The logistics sector is one of the biggest in the UK and stretches across industries such as fashion, food, automotive and fast-moving consumer goods. According to the Commission for Employment and Skills, the sector employs 1.45 million people and less than a quarter of them are female.

The logistics industry needs to find an additional 500,000 candidates before 2017. With such a wide breadth of career opportunities, it's vital that the logistics industry works to better promote its careers by combating any false perceptions of what a job in logistics might entail.

A diverse workforce creates greater harmony and naturally leads to better decision making as employees bring different experiences and perspectives to the table. It is, therefore, important to have diversity at all levels of management. To address its own deficit of women, DHL's board has voluntarily pledged to fill 25%-30% of executive positions with women. The purpose of DHL's programme is to discover talented women early on and support them to obtain personal and professional growth. We do this in a number of ways, from workshops to providing a mentoring network to graduate and emerging leaders schemes and promoting options for flexible working. These measures have helped start to change the composition of our executive teams in some regions, especially Europe, where the proportion of women has risen from 6% to 18%.

The future of every business depends on having an adequate supply of skilled employees, and at DHL we are striving to encourage more candidates into not only our business but the sector itself. To replicate this success and grow diversity, the logistics industry needs to better promote these opportunities."