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October 15, 2019 3:45 PM, EDT

Perspective: Diversity Is Essential in Fast-Moving Industry

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Diversity is a core tenet of any high-performing team, and its importance is heightened the faster a company grows. This is especially true in the logistics and freight-matching world, where we’re rapidly combining tech and trucking in ways that improve life for both shippers and carriers alike.

There is no way that companies in this space can grow as quickly and efficiently as possible without the depth and breadth of experience that a diverse team brings to the table. It’s not just about gender or race, either. It’s about age, background and expertise. We all have unique career experiences based on who we are and what we’ve done. Team building is about finding the right mix of people for what you want to accomplish and how you get there.

Lily Shen

Shen

All of this is taken to the next level in logistics, an incredibly complicated sector with plenty of nuances. Logistics isn’t just e-commerce or food delivery; and it’s certainly not ride sharing. There are big, deeply ingrained complexities that have existed for decades, where there’s been a growing need for more efficient operational technologies. Smaller firms and startups are competing for market share with companies that have been in this space for more than 100 years. You can’t simply jump into this industry and expect to change the world with your technology. You need the right mix of people and their insights to get there.

In a space such as logistics — especially today — both reliability and innovation are key components to driving continual company growth and development. Within a startup environment in particular, where collaboration and vocalization are a part of everyday workflow, having a diversified team is vital to not only addressing the issues at hand, but also to anticipating potential issues down the line. In simpler terms, diverse teams bring a depth of perspective to develop solutions.

Beyond simply being the “right thing to do,” building a diverse workforce has been shown to generate positive business outcomes. By leveraging the different perspectives that each person brings to the table, you can draw from wider idea pools and come to more thorough and innovative solutions.

There is plenty of research to back this up, as well: In 2017, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. reported that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity in their leadership teams were 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability than those in the fourth quartile.

The winning teams in logistics will be built on both depth of experience, and breadth of understanding. They’ll be the right mix of experts and generalists from varying backgrounds, who are nimble, and most importantly know how to work together — from the most senior leadership to the newest members of the team.

Not Just the C-Suite

In order to effectively kick-start more inclusive hiring practices and align company goals accordingly, initiative needs to be taken from the top down, and then carried throughout the company. In a 2018 study by research and advisory firm Gartner, support from the C-level was shown to most effectively set the stage for driving this type of reform.

That said, it is important to drive diversity at all levels of the company to ensure all teams are benefiting from a diversified and collective experience.

To ensure this type of inclusivity is fostered within a workplace, organizations can, for example, host meetings exclusively for female employees to foster networking opportunities. Companies can also hold educational workshops and panels, and implement mentoring programs and management peer networks designed to share diverse and novel approaches to leadership challenges, including those around diversity and unconscious bias.

By taking these and other, similar steps, companies can demonstrate to existing and prospective employees exactly where their priorities lie and can set themselves up for creating a more inclusive environment. A new era of accountability is on the rise, one where we’re seeing technology startups in particular making stronger commitments to bringing diversity to the workplace. If companies want to set themselves up for long-term success and growth, focused efforts need to be made even within the most tenured industries, such as logistics, to create a more accessible place for these groups to build their careers. Once these foundations are set in place, stronger talent pools and more innovative solutions will naturally follow.

Lily Shen is president and chief operating officer at Transfix, a leading online freight marketplace that brings immediate capacity and guaranteed reliability for those seeking smarter, lower cost ways to move freight.

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