Gender Equality in Logistics: From Operations Into the Board Room

International Women’s Day 2020 calls upon all of us to push for gender equality. As a logistics leader, I believe that correcting gender disparities in ‘profit and loss’ (P&L) and operational roles is a key strategy to fill the executive pipeline with more female talent. For this blog article, I interviewed Renata Mihich, Managing Director Canada at DHL Global Forwarding, on her journey at DPDHL.
|Written by Sabine Mueller


gender equality in logistics

It’s International Women’s Day 2020 and this year’s theme is #EachForEqual! At DPDHL, there is momentum to work towards diversity in logistics – it’s management’s top priority. This is great, but when taking a closer look one thing becomes clear: We are missing female talent in operations and P&L positions. This is where the gender inequality is rooted and where we need to take action to make real progress on our diversity agenda. Here’s the why and how:


Diversity in Logistics = More Women in Operations

The Women in the Workplace 2019 report shows that female talent thins out the further we look up the organizational ladder. This dramatically hurts women’s chances to break the glass ceiling. This is no different in the logistics industry.

Additionally, we see that women in leadership are more often found in HR, communication, legal, or marketing functions. In country/regional management, and P&L career tracks the gender gap is larger. The impact of this is significant as these lines of work typically lead up to management promotions. So, the message for logistics leaders is clear: We need to join efforts to effectively hire and develop women for operations and P&L roles.

The structural lack of women is also related to another underlying issue: We still perceive logistics operations as a male domain characterized by heavy physical work, bad hours, and very difficult leadership situations. This is not true.

Logistics Operations: Is It ‘a Man’s World’?

Are operations roles designed for men in terms of culture and working conditions? I find myself regularly discussing this point with my female mentees and network. My answer is: No, not per definition. There are some aspects of operational work that might be less attractive to women. But this should not be a reason for us to stay out of the field. Let’s take this as a challenge and change it!

The working world is undergoing a transformation driven by digitalization, automation, robotics, and new work. This gives us the opportunity to redefine how, where, and when we work; also in the field of operations. In this way, we can break down barriers for women to enter this career track and debunk the myth of operations being male territory.

Renata Mihich challenges this myth and shares her experiences in logistics operations next.

My Interview With Renata Mihich on Her Journey at DPDHL

On IWD we celebrate women’s achievements. I am happy that I could interview Renata Mihich, Managing Director Canada at DHL Global Forwarding, on the occasion.


Renata, many thanks for participating in this interview!
What advice would you give to women starting a career in logistics?

Embrace disruption, which is basically the ability to adapt to change and listen to the people at all levels of your organization. Every perspective counts to help you make the right decision about your career. Seek for mentorship and role models. It is key to have inspiring examples around you. Think of the future and be open for as many different avenues for your career as possible. Take ownership of you career; the company does not own it, you do.


How has your experience in an operational role helped you to understand the business and advance your career?

I think having the opportunity to work in operations gives a solid base of knowledge and experience. It will help to give you those arguments of “who has been there”, telling your own story rather than quoting concepts. This will help you to persuade others and present strong ideas and arguments. Operations is about experiencing the process where it happens. It is as well a good way to bond with people, not only up or down, but across.


There is a common perception that operational roles are designed for men. What is your view on this?

I don’t feel the nature of the role is designed by gender. I believe women have an equal opportunity and can find their way in male-predominant professions. It’s about what the individual, as a professional, regardless of gender, aspires for themselves and what they want to put forward for their career and how they will attain it. Availability, work-family balance, willingness to travel are all aspects that will differ per person and are in the control of the individual. Knowing what you want and can offer is what matters – not your gender.


What makes you so passionate about working so close to our operations? What would you tell a young woman that is still on the fence about starting a career in operations?

Logistics is a great direction for your career! What makes me so passionate is working with people. I am passionate about learning the cultural diversities that this job brings to myself. In this industry there are many career paths that can be taken. There are careers for those who can put forth the hours and there are paths for those who are unwilling to do that and need a more stable lifestyle. The beauty is the fact this industry needs it all. Remember: your journey starts with your own choices. We sometimes transfer that accountability for career planning to the companies we work for. Make sure you feel good about your own decisions and be flexible. There will be times of more and less in your career, as everything else in life. Once you get your own formula for what works for you, this becomes a very joyful ride.


Many thanks for sharing your inspiring story with us, Renata!

I absolutely share your passion for the logistics industry and by making female role models and examples like yourself visible other women can get inspiration for their own personal and professional journey.

Let’s Embrace the Momentum for Gender Equality

Gender parity is a business imperative and needs to be established along the entire pipeline leading up to management. This is how we can generate a lasting shift in our board rooms towards diversity and inclusion. This calls for all stakeholders to take action.


I personally encourage:

  • all ambitious women out there to go for an operations role.


Face your fears and ask for what you want!

  • all senior leaders to commit to diversity in operations.


Be vocal about your diversity target of 50 percent women. Stay open for ways of how you can reach your target. And, turn the issue of why women shy away from these jobs into a topic of discussion.

  • all spouses or life partners to be career enablers, even if this requires creative family solutions. It will be worth it.


IWD 2020 defines equality as an enabler, and this is exactly what it is: when we push for diversity in logistics this means that we can draw from a larger talent pool. Equality will enable us to take better decisions and grow sustainably.

How are you making an impact on gender equality? I am looking forward to exchanging experiences with you in the comments below or on my social media channels: LinkedIn or Instagram.

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