What women want from warehousing

June 27, 2022

Men have always borne the bulk of the logistics industry. Today though, truth and myth are harder to prize apart. Our 16th annual Voice of the Blue Collar Worker (VBCW) survey reveals that while there are still more men than women in warehouses, women are actually more satisfied with their job. From almost 20,000 respondents, 37% of women told us they were actively seeking a new role in 2022, versus 53% of men.

What's behind this trend? It may correlate with more flexible working patterns, which themselves are becoming an expectation instead of a novelty. Better education and training can also stir loyalty – the easier it is for a woman to pick up more skills from the start, the farther she can see her shelf-life with the company, breaking out of the assumption she can't advance into a real career. The current strain on logistics businesses may (and should) be motivating employers to train, adapt and catch up with their workforce more regularly.

However, since ProLogis reports that only 34% of warehousing jobs are filled by women, you might want to incentivize more female applicants and widen the path to parity. Join us as we dig past the stats and consider how to do this.

Plan flexibility that spreads over 'regular' working hours

Elsewhere in the VBCW, we see another trend: strict shift patterns as a whole are declining. Schedule patterns now have a higher priority than pay and other benefits in some areas – chiefly what makes hires stay for the long haul. 21% of men and women combined say that flexible scheduling motivates them more than anything else.

Look closer, though, and you'll notice that women prefer five eight-hour shifts compared to men (52% against 44% respectively). Aversions increase for 10 and 12-hour shifts; only 9% of women want to take the latter. It appears that women prefer to spread their work out through the week, and are less inclined to take longer, more punishing stretches at once.

How might it affect your schedules? As best you can, try and limit any early, late or weekend shifts to eight hours. Any woman who wants more can take more; make this clear. But it's worth asking men at the outset for intense, less frequent working arrangements, and planning with that aim in mind.

Encourage young, women-led internships

As is often the case, young people imitate what they see in a warehouse. If there are very few women leaders (shift managers, technical operatives, health & safety supervisors and the like), students and interns may assume it's not a good fit – that they won't be valued or given meaningful work.

You can fight back against stereotypes with regular internships. Partner with a local trade body or university to offer two or three months in a logistics environment. Young women can watch, learn and get to grips with the reality of the job, furthering their education and certificates. What's more, they may respond even better when they're guided by a female warehouse worker: someone who's proven themselves in the company, and wants to do something new for their own advancement.

Read more about flexible work, incentives and the changing winds of American warehousing in the VBCW report here.