In recent years, the call for improved gender representation in leadership positions has gained momentum, and rightly so. However, the significance of having women in leadership goes beyond mere representation, says Juliette Fourie, managing director of Metro Minds.
“Research and data suggest that having more women leaders can be a game-changer for businesses and their financial performance. McKinsey research recently highlighted that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom. Plus, research from academics from the universities of Glasgow and Leicester showed that companies with more than 30% female executives were more likely to outperform companies that don’t. In 2023, women CEOs are heading up 10% of Fortune 500 companies for the first time in history. This is undoubtedly an important milestone. But it also underscores the need for more women at all levels of leadership,” she says.
Despite this, women’s representation in the freight industry remains historically low, particularly in roles such as truck drivers, freight handlers and other operational positions. Women continue to face barriers to entry and advancement in the field. Fourie says some advances have been made to improve gender diversity in recent years, but representation in many segments remains disproportionately low. “The lack of female representation can be attributed to various factors, including perceived physical demands, workplace culture, family and lifestyle considerations, and lack of mentors,” she says.
According to Fourie, it is essential that companies introduce programmes to increase women’s representation. “At Metro Minds, our workshops and programmes are aligned to cater for women in leadership roles and build a new generation of women leaders. There are currently wonderful success stories in the industry, and many organisations are good at promoting female leadership.” She says the freight industry must recognise the importance of gender diversity and actively work towards creating an inclusive and equitable workplace for all employees. In particular, there is an urgent need to create a pipeline for women leaders.