By Marta Ramirez, Senior VP, Human Resources, Americas –
Whenever I sit down and talk to female employees who want to move up the corporate ladder and into senior and leadership positions, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, these women are capable and anxious to take on new, exciting roles in the organization. They’re up to the challenge. But on the other hand, at times I often sense legitimate levels of apprehension and anxiety over the impact that the new responsibilities will have on their personal life and their family.
When I’m face-to-face with these aspiring individuals I usually tell them, “Listen, there is a price to pay, there will be times when you have to leave your home to go to a business meeting and you’re going to miss an important family date or one of your children’s events, but that’s the nature of the beast. You win some; you lose some. But at the end of the day, you’re working for an organization where women are encouraged to advance and progress both personally and professionally, so it will even out over time, brace yourself and move on.”
Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to promote a young woman who has been at Schenker for about 10 years. She was willing and ready to take on a larger role within the organization. As it happened, she has a young family and wanted to make sure the new job included at least some degree of flexibility while also giving her the opportunity to grow professionally.
Knowing this, we were tasked with assembling the right elements into a package that would give her the opportunity to contribute at the higher level, but also retain a positive work-life balance and know that she’ll be home for some holidays and as many of her children’s games and events as possible. That way, she can utilize her talents and skills, have an impact, and contribute at a very high level without having to make unnecessary sacrifices in her personal and family life.
As Schenker continues to grow in the Americas and worldwide, we are purposely seeking to appoint more women in leadership roles. This is very important to us, and it’s something that our leadership is focused on. We understand the value of balance and do everything we can to provide career pathing that supports and nurtures all employees.
Walking the Talk
I’ve personally felt the impacts of Schenker’s positive, woman-friendly work environment. I joined the company about 10 months ago, coming onboard to lead the HR functions in the Americas. My region encompasses 10 countries, where my 100+ person team (80 in the U.S. and the rest situated in other countries) manages Schenker’s territories and services. In the HR leadership team, we have a significant female representation. However, overall for other roles in the logistics and supply chain field, we recognize we are on our way to make progress in the right direction. Just last year, in fact, Schenker promoted a long term female employee to the chief financial officer (CFO) role for the U.S. This was a very positive and encouraging move, and it shows our firm’s commitment to putting a bigger spotlight on women’s strengths, attributes, and contributions to the industry as a whole.
Other initiatives include bringing one of our values to life, a “Walk the Talk” campaign, focused on building more diverse, well-rounded teams where issues like gender pay gaps are adequately addressed and mitigated. By creating matrix teams that center on specific corporate projects, for example, we’re opening up new opportunities to incorporate women in the conversation. My team also works to create awareness of the need for better female representation in logistics without the biases, inequalities, and stereotypes.
These are just some of the steps we’re taking in order to make a difference, impact change, and actually mean what we say. Through Walk the Talk, for instance, we encourage everyone in the organization to take pride and ownership in the work that they deliver, the value they create, and the role they play in making the world a more sustainable place. This collective definition aligns directly with our purpose statement – “we advance businesses and lives, by shaping the way our world connect”, and create even more opportunities for women in logistics, while also encouraging employees to lead by example and connect their actions with Schenker’s purpose statement and values.
Come One, Come All!
In our own private lives, my husband and I contribute and care deeply to the women’s equality cause. We partner with financial support and time to building schools in Haiti. Education is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart, and one that’s centered on helping little girls and boys focus on learning and giving them access to better opportunities. Perhaps someday, by giving youngsters these types of opportunities early in life, we’ll be able to even further increase the pipeline of talented, bright women who want to work in the logistics and supply chain field.
At Schenker, we continue working towards making a difference. We’re just putting the finishing touches on a program designed to stoke even more internal communications around creating opportunities for women, and are looking to become even more visible and intentional about showing others the path to opportunity. This commitment will extend into our recruiting efforts, in respect of clearly articulating career path information to both new and existing employees. In the end, it’s obviously up to the individual woman as to how she wants to approach her career and what opportunities she does (or doesn’t) want to take advantage of.
As someone who still looks regularly at a picture of myself at a corporate dinner, surrounded by mostly men and at times, not another female in the vicinity, I really look forward to a time when there are more women working alongside me in this challenging-yet-rewarding industry. Come one come all, we are ready for you!