When you write a regular column it can often be difficult to think of burning topics to churn out month in, month out (unless you’re Jeremy Clarkson who gets loads of new models each week and even gets to drive them!).
Lesser mortals take inspiration from things they come across just before the panic of the impending deadline creeps up. This month, three things have come together, all to do with making this industry of ours more diverse in the people it employs.
Number one was in a filling station near Haydock Park when I came across “the Pink Truck”. When I say pink, I mean really outlandishly, in your face, shocking pink. It’s the brainchild of a couple of training providers in the north-west and Essex and has the backing of Logistics College North West.
As a stereo-typical middle-aged lag in a suit, I personally find the pink truck patronising but the point is it is a good effort to do something off the wall and address a major issue. Good luck to her and all who train in her.
Number two was a presentation by Remploy, the government agency concerned with placing disabled people into work. To me, the impact was as great as a shocking pink truck in a filling station as all my misconceptions about disability were hung out to dry.
Archetypal definitions of “disability” appear to be poor bedfellows for an industry such as logistics but wheelchair-bound people represent only 4.5 per cent of the disabled community and there is, once again a big pool from which the logistics industry can fish.
Number three on the list of opportunities from diversity for this industry is the woefully low number of employees from black and ethnic minorities, especially in driving jobs. At Skills for Logistics, we are just starting a major piece of research, sponsored by the Department for Transport and aimed at, among other things, identifying real and perceived barriers for potential employees from these groups.
Key to this project is talking to real people inside and, more importantly outside the industry to find out what the real issues are. Not what people such as your columnist think are the real barriers. If you are able to take part in the discussion groups for this project please make contact on the email below.
So, three apparently unrelated incidents over a seven day period, all of which point up the need to do something serious to address the diversity issue, not from an altruistic point of view but rather from a hard-headed business perspective that says if we can’t find the right people and right skills from the pond we are fishing in, get a bigger and better pond.
The other point however, stemming from the pink truck, is how should we publicise the activities? Is the pink truck approach applicable or is it wholly inappropriate when approaching disabilities or racial origin. Common sense suggests it is not appropriate. Certainly, writing this article itself has been difficult in my desire not to offend anybody.
Or, to look at it another way, are we too bothered these days by PC and are we therefore limiting our effectiveness? Maybe a hard hitting public campaign would go a long way to changing managers’ perspectives on disabilities and changing everybody’s view on the suitability of the industry from an ethnic minority viewpoint. Or should we just let nature and the market take its course?
Contact Mick Jackson at Skills for Logistics.