#TeleportThoughts: Why International Women’s Day Matters in Logistics

113 years ago, garment workers in the U.S.  marched on a citywide strike to protest their unjust working conditions. These brave women became the spark that created International Women’s Day.  We know what you’re thinking: What’s all this got to do with the logistics industry and Teleport in general? As a company with a mission that’s Made to Deliver, it’s impossible to achieve that without cultivating a healthy and diverse workplace that provides equal opportunities for all. 

We’ve got work to do and man do we know that already. Change needs to start with us. By standing up against discrimination, encouraging women to speak up, and sharing opportunities with all, industries like logistics can thrive with both men and women helming the wheel. As part of our IWD celebration, we spoke to the female leaders in #TeamTeleport about their experiences to better understand what this day means to them.

The logistics industry is traditionally known to be a male-dominated arena. Just ask Community Lead, Kelly Ann Fernandez. Growing up in a family with a logistics background, her first job was unpacking massive 40ft containers at just 16. Unloading cartons wasn’t easy, especially for a young woman with uncles who told her to give up. Instead of giving in, she got the tough jobs done in her own way, never letting her differences hold her back. Now that’s the spirit we love at Teleport.

It was apparent that I had to find different ways of completing tasks – a carton box that one of the guys could carry no problem, might be tough for me – so to prove myself, I always had to find ways around it without compromising productivity or slowing the team down. That didn’t mean I couldn’t do the job, it just meant I did it differently. 

With a string of experiences around the logistics belt, Kelly has her fair share of valuable insight into the industry’s ecosystem, earning her the role of overseeing operations here in Teleport. Unfortunately, she’s faced gender-based remarks throughout her career like,

“The problem with women is that we focus too much on the details.”

And to that comment, Kelly has the best reply: Sorry, not sorry”. Being detail-oriented is one of the most highly sought-after soft skills in any given occupation. It shows the ability to think of the big picture, and we definitely would want a detail-oriented colleague on the team.

Our Cargo Marketing Specialist, Shahirah, or Sha as she’s commonly known in the office, has had her fair share of unnecessary interjections from male colleagues in past workplaces. While we encourage open communication and discussions, we don’t believe people should use their voices to shut others down. Every voice deserves its own airtime, so giving Sha and everyone in the room that space is what we need to continue doing for an industry like ours to progress. 

Breaking discrimination starts by giving women equal opportunities to lead. Having women like Sha and Kelly pave the way for other women in the field ensures diversity without biases from application pools to management roles. A person’s career should progress due to exemplary work, not due to gender, sexual orientation, religion or skin colour. It’s not easy, but it’s damn well worth the fight for equality.

Thankfully, progress has been made both globally and in our own backyard. A Malaysian study conducted in 2017 found that the labour force gender gap has narrowed by more than 35% within two decades. In logistics, we’ve seen a 12% increase of women in logistics, an encouraging sight that the labour sector is becoming more inclusive. This seems like a slow change, but we’re committed to being a part of it.  Looking at the pay data of our 572 Teleporters, we noticed that we have a negative pay gap. This meant that the women in our organisation were paid 3% more on average than men. While this is a good start to levelling the field, we still need to correct the 34% representation in our teams, especially with middle managers. We aim to correct this inadequacy over the next few quarters.

By breaking the proverbial glass ceiling with equal opportunities, support and tools, we’re giving half of our population the same chance of success and growth. Talk is cheap but action is what we need for real change to happen.  It’s not greeting cards we need to mark a day like this,  but real organisational change. Like more women in leadership roles, improved parental leaves and a constant effort to tackle gender discrimination at work. We hope more companies will level the playing field by ensuring equal pay and job opportunities, condemning sexual biases and harassment, and providing a safe and inclusive environment. 

To wrap things up, we asked our very own CEO, Pete, to tell us what International Women’s Day means to him.

“International Women’s Day is a reminder that we still have 364 more days each year to make gender equality a reality in the workplace and in our communities. Diversity and representation strengthen bonds, break down invisible walls and glass ceilings, and correct blindspots. It’s as good for business as it is for the soul.

I hope diversity is not something we have to solve for or encourage but is just who we are- A culture where everyone feels welcome, included and valued. There is absolutely no role that only a man could do in #TeamTeleport. So it starts at home; to be the change we want to see elsewhere.”

We couldn’t have said it better, Pete. 

At Teleport, we believe that labels are meant for parcels, not people.

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