Improving gender balance in the logistics industry

A proactive approach to providing career opportunities for women is driving positive results for workforces in Gabon.

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All over the world, logistics has historically been a male-dominated industry. Traditionally viewed as labour intensive, roles such as operating heavy machinery or driving heavy vehicles have been perceived as unsuitable for women, leading to under-representation of women within the sector.

In Gabon, ARISE Integrated and Industrial Platforms (IIP), and ARISE Ports and Logistics are leading the way in challenging these gender stereotypes. Recognising the potential business benefits of a gender-balanced workforce, the ARISE team identified a lack of female candidates who were qualified to operate heavy machinery. Due to gender stereotypes around these roles, most women had never had the opportunity to develop the required skills.

To address this gap, the ARISE team piloted a project in 2019-2020 to train women to drive and operate trucks, cranes, forklifts, and other heavy equipment, with the aim of increasing the trainees’ employment potential and the opportunity to have jobs within the business. With support from our technical assistance facility, CDC Plus, the ARISE team recruited and trained 50 women at Owendo Mineral Port and the New Owendo Industrial Port. The project overcame various challenges – such as the COVID pandemic – and learnt valuable lessons on the unique needs and experiences of training women to work in non-traditional roles.

So far, the project has been a success and the trainees have become increasingly confident in their new skills:

“With my driving license I [could] work overseas, hence the project has opened new employment opportunities for me that I didn’t think of before.”

“My main challenge was technical: I always dreamed of driving heavy vehicles, but could I really? Now I know I can, and I’ve pushed my limits further – I feel empowered and I know I can do more.’’

50

women were recruited and trained as part of the programme.

While the training has come to an end, much of the impact is yet to come. The trainees are currently waiting to receive their driving licenses, after which they can pursue job opportunities and put their new skills to practice. In partnership with the ARISE team, we will continue to monitor their progress and the impact of increasing gender diversity across the company. Alongside this, the project has helped to internally promote the importance and value of gender diversity, including amongst senior management. As a result, ARISE IIP and ARISE Ports and Logistics are making plans to increase gender diversity across all levels of their organisations.

Their recently published case study explains the project in detail and the lessons learnt along the way, in the hope that similar logistics companies can learn and be inspired to adopt similar initiatives.

We are proud to work with the ARISE team and support their efforts in advancing gender diversity. This case study is a great example of how male-dominated sectors can work to bring more women into the field.

ARISE Ports and Logistics is based in Gabon and manages infrastructure and logistics services, including the Owendo Mineral Port which CDC is invested in. Read the full evaluation of the Com’Elles project here

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