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Women’s networks in logistics – where is the benefit?

At the Women in Logistics AGM (www.womeninlogistics.org.uk) a few weeks ago, Kirsten Tisdale from Aricia Ltd raised a fabulous point. “Am I a ‘WIL’ or a ‘PIL'” she mused, “am I a woman in logistics or a person in logistics?’

Well, clearly both do indeed apply, but with passion, humour and intelligence she cogently argued why there is indeed a need to strike forward as a WIL – in order to not only to change business perspectives, but to network and importantly, enjoy, being with like minded people.

And it struck me that this is exactly what ALL the best networking events should be like. They add something to our busy lives – not just intellectually, but  socially too.

Citing Ingrid Devlin from Dell in Times supplement ‘Women mean business’ from November 2010, Kirsten acknowledged the differences in communication styles between men and women, and stressed that we ought to embrace the difference – but be aware of how a more ‘dynamic approach’ might affect a listeners’ conclusions.

“Women account for just 22% of the logistics workforce in England.”

Set up in September 2009 as a LinkedIn group, Women in Logistics now has more than 1400 members, men and women. From the kernel of an idea by Ruth Waring, MD of Labyrinth Logistics Consulting Ltd, the group was formed to help increase the number of women in the sector and to address the gender imbalance issue.  It now organises mentoring, skills days, social events, factory tours, and educational sessions;  has exhibited at various shows, and most of all, provides a network for logistics professionals to work within.

“I am so proud of the Women in Logistics network”, says Ruth. “it has wildly exceeded my expectations in its size, scope and influence. Clearly there is a demand for an organisation like ours to make a difference.”

A non profit making group, WIL runs with no finance, no bank account even, and is totally volunteer led. They will be putting on six events throughout 2011. These were democratically chosen at the AGM by the 40 or so delegates: we were all armed with six sticky dots each, and had to nominate our six favoured events (out of a total in excess of 24). These are now being finalised.

The line up for 2011 includes topics like a Professional Development Day, and seminars on topics such as

  • Non exec directorships
  • Work life balance
  • Social Media & LinkedIn
  • Spa and Confidence Building
  • IT for Logistics

And of course, a celebratory 3rd birthday party for WIL in September.

WIL has some exceptionally talented men and women in its membership, and you can read some case studies on what some of the members do, and what they get from being a part of the group.

So in answer to my question, where is the benefit? Well, for both men and women in logistics, it strikes me that the potential for benefit is the same in any network – the more you put in, the more you get out.

The next event is in March and will be a Social Media day, with talks on LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging. See Women in Logistics‘ website for more information

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