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Diversity and inclusion (D&I) isn't just nice to have. It’s imperative for businesses to survive and thrive. That’s why at Kuehne+Nagel we’re doing all we can to create and embrace a more diverse workforce.
We ask the experts
We caught up with Robin Miles, Head of Pharma and Healthcare at Kuehne+Nagel, someone who knows the value of diversity.
Robin says, “Sure, diversity is about attributes like gender and race and it's also about getting the right blend and range of skills and experience that an organisation needs, so that its customer base can be more readily served.”
“Since working in this industry, I’ve come to realise how important it is to have people who come from diverse backgrounds. As our business orients more towards vertical sectors, we need more than logistics expertise – we also need people who are au fait with industry issues – especially as economical and geopolitical issues continue to hold sway.”
Robin points out that colleagues in logistics more often than not, got into logistics by accident, not design.
He also ‘found’ his way into logistics after needing to find a new job and his travel experience was relevant to the job.
He says the question should no longer be what experience do you have in logistics but what skills and experience do we need within our teams to succeed?
Robin has learned the hard way about team balance. Tasked to grow a team from three to 10 in a three-month period he assumed by choosing experienced people from the same pool of freight forwarders he’d hit gold. But sadly, the team couldn’t think outside the box and change things up, as required.
Robin urges anyone recruiting to opt for as much diversity as possible.
A new era
The logistics industry has changed a lot in the last decade, with more women, graduates and younger people cutting their teeth here. Fortunately, today’s marketplace is more dynamic so the pool is more diverse.
Customer demands have changed too. Today the role is more advisory as customers want expertise they don’t have in-house. This is why attracting the right talent is so important. While someone who knows the supply chain is great, pharmacists who’ve joined the team have insight into how goods are produced, the product lifecycle and how these products perform in this vertical – which is so valuable.
The fight for talent
51% of business leaders fear talent shortages in 2022 driven by the Great Resignation attributed to Covid. So, how can we ensure we get the right people?
A well-rounded diversity and inclusion strategy isn’t achieved overnight. At Kuehne+Nagel we’ve learned lessons on the way and know we have a long way to go.
Kate Broome, recently appointed as Sustainability and Social Impact Director to the UK Board acknowledges the importance of bringing customers with us as we aim to become more sustainable. The key to this is appointing the right people and ensuring they have the right environment to thrive, regardless of their background.
Broadening our horizons
When the sales team brought expertise in the FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) marketplace a few years ago, it soon realised different outlooks were not supported in the existing infrastructure. Today, investment in our sales programmes and via a network of over 100 salespeople in the UK, plus interconnectivity and training helps, giving recruits the resources to succeed.
It’s not just vertical sector skills that help. Knowledge of other areas, such as sustainability and social issues are all relevant when dealing with customers’ concerns or queries. Problem-solving is certainly helped, the broader the experience levels.
The most important thing, according to Robin, is listening. “There are tools to track our performance but ultimately, understanding what customers want to achieve is the key.” Once we know this, we can then find a solution. This is where broader skills help as 9 times out of 10 the issue will be something you didn’t anticipate.”
As a company with a UK-wide footprint, location is no longer an issue, which helps. Yes, our sales experts might want to be close to their customers but this isn’t always essential, with options for remote, hybrid and flexible working. Even customer audits for compliance have been managed remotely during Covid, so this shows how we can adapt when we need to.
Kuehne+Nagel has significantly increased sales roles globally, due to the changes in customer buying behaviour. In the UK, recognising the need to attract the right talent, the team invested time and energy into a virtual recruitment fair, to give potential recruits a closer, more personalised look and feel for the organisation and the culture.
The event was a huge success, garnering 100s of new applicants for a handful of UK roles. All applications were assessed by humans and, by a cross-departmental team, including HR, development stakeholders and sales, over a staged process, helping to eliminate unconscious bias as far as possible.
Staying the distance
We know that, once people are here, they need a career path. Robin concludes, “I’m someone who’s had the freedom to move into new roles across the business. It’s something that’s widely supported and actively encouraged. Plus, as a large organisation, this can include moves around the globe and our graduates move around the business too, getting exposure to different teams for 4-6 months at a time.”
About our expert
Robin Miles, Head of Pharma and Healthcare, UK
A keen advocate of broadening his horizons, Robin’s career started in the travel sector in France and since joining the logistics industry in the UK, he’s had a variety of roles, each with greater responsibility.
In his current role, his enthusiasm for pharma and healthcare comes from working with customers at the top of their game in this complex sector - setting and exceeding - high standards.
Moving to new roles in the business is widely supported or actively encouraged, where it makes sense. As a large organisation, this can mean moves around the globe.
Robin Miles, Industry Champion, Pharma & Healthcare