Inside Logistics

Geodis builds female leadership through mentor programs

Goal is to reach 25 percent by 2023

March 8, 2021

Only 13 percent of senior leaders in the logistics industry are women. Yet recent research by Novosensus shows that women have higher leadership capabilities than men.

This has prompted companies like Geodis to address gender inequality in its leadership. Its own progress in this regard has seen levels of 13 percent in 2017 grow to 18 percent currently. The goal is to reach 25 percent by 2023.

“The logistics industry urgently needs a greater degree of gender diversity and inclusion to recognize, reward and profit from the talents of its female workforce and to improve its record of attracting women of superior ability,” said Mario Ceccon, Geodis Group human resources executive vice-president.

“The industry’s image is one of traditional male leadership, lack of upward mobility for women and unattractive to aspiring young females.”

Read more in our International Women’s Day (#IWD21) series: Women at work; The gender-based wage gap persists in supply chain; Women call on logistics industry to improve equity.

Through its Geodis Women’s Network (GWN), mentor programs have been evolving in regions across the globe over the past four years. The GWN has three pillars that support its activities: career development and mentorship; inclusive leadership and connecting people.

The mentor program builds on the first of these pillars. Each mentee has a mentor from within the company assigned to them for the duration of the Program.  They engage over a series of informal and more formalized sessions during which inter-action is consistent in being constructive, confidential, respectful, open-minded and frank.

In the Americas region a pilot was established in 2018 to trial a mentor program in partnership with the professional development experts at Dale Carnegie. The program has evolved in content and has grown in numbers of participants across the US, expanding into the Latin American organization for this year’s schedule starting in April. In 2021, there will be a total of 218 staff involved, both mentors and mentees.

“Based on feedback from those involved in our 2019 Program, we made significant changes last year,” said Gerri Commodore, senior vice-president new business and Geodis Women’s Network America’s chairperson.

“Our mentors and mentees wanted more structure and tools to help them. So, we partnered with Impacting Leaders, a leadership consulting company and introduced the Style of Influence (SOI) assessment. This measure focuses on the natural way people would influence others.”

The response from mentors and mentees based on these changes, was overwhelming praise for the program and an increase in applications to participate this year.

“This year we are employing a new format to complement the original. This entails 29 of the mentees working in small groups. Each will focus on practical applications of our ‘5 Core Competencies of a Leader’ in order to further develop their natural leadership style” Commodore said.

In the Asia-Pacific (APAC), Geodis Australia-New Zealand (ANZ) team launched their program in September last year, with a schedule of activity set through to July.  With the benefit of lessons learned as the Program develops, it is planned to roll it out across the Geodis APAC region over the balance of the year.

“We are seeking to understand the goals of our mentees and support their potential development within the company,” said Stuart Asplet, managing director, Pacific Region, the main sponsor of the Mentor Program.

“Although the first twenty-five are all women and drawn from the ANZ region, the program is open to male employees. A key goal of the program is to engender a feeling of empowerment, of being noticed, valued and develop confidence.”

A ‘6 Steps to Success’ framework has been designed for the ANZ Program running over the 10-month period. After initial training sessions last year, Mentee Networking Events and mentoring sessions are regularly underway. Feedback indicates that 98 percent of the mentees have found the structure engaging.

“Gender diversity is not only a social necessity but also a corporate responsibility and a sound business policy. Empathetic leadership that balances the sensibilities of all genders brings greater understanding of all human inter-action and hence value creation for employees, customers, suppliers and business partners” Ceccon concluded.