This interview is part of a series highlighting the contributions and career paths of women leaders making their mark in warehouse automation and the supply chain field.
To better understand the challenges facing the supply chain labor market, GreyOrange spoke with Charlie Saffro, the president and founder of CS Recruiting, which specializes in the space. As the leader of this 40-person, multi-million dollar organization, Charlie has witnessed a labor transformation during her 16 years working in the industry. In this three-part blog series, she shares insights on the challenges and opportunities women face, ways employers can do a better job attracting and retaining women, and how automation can enhance workplace flexibility for all.
Offering flexible work options is probably the biggest driver to getting women back in the workforce or getting them a job that is more in line with their priorities and schedule. Over the past three years, we’ve seen a huge shift with companies who previously resisted hybrid or remote talent but are now realizing that they are limiting their recruiting opportunities by limiting the search to only candidates in a given location. If you think about it, not everyone can afford to live by a company headquarters in San Francisco, but they could afford to live in a market with a lower cost of living while still performing in the same role with their California-based employer.
During my early career in advertising, I worked at an agency that had a nursery and childcare in the office. Moms that returned from maternity leaves would have the option to bring their new baby to work. Reflecting back, my previous employer was incredibly progressive and by offering this, they’re not only supporting moms in the workforce, but they’re funding childcare to make it as easy and desirable as possible to return after leave. Having their child onsite allowed these working parents to focus on their work without constantly feeling rushed to pick up their child from daycare or make it home in time for the babysitter. This perk can go a long way both logistically and emotionally and sets the standard for how the company treats their employees.
I think flexibility is really what probably pushes a lot of moms out of the workforce. And, sometimes even if the job is remote, the hours aren’t feasible for a working mom. While we are still seeing a lot of remote or hybrid work opportunities, about 70% of the searches we’re working on today are on-site. At the end of the day, employees simply want to know that the flexibility is offered. Having flexible options not only reduces stress, but it improves the quality of the work and encourages the employee to find a realistic work/life balance.
Nobody wants to hear about robots replacing humans and CEOs and companies that are cutting workforces to protect their bottom lines. In some cases, automation and robots can help to solve for talent gaps in less desirable roles, but it usually won’t cut out the need for a human completely. Oftentimes these technological advancements allow a human to be more effective and efficient with their productivity and can often make the job less demanding. Who knows? In the near future, we might be seeing truck drivers operating self-driving vehicles while they work in the comfort of their own homes. Believe it or not, this is not as far-fetched as it once seemed.
Offering flexibility will likely change the ability to recruit and retain talent. Unfortunately, so many companies still require people to be on-site for no particular reason. People are being asked to report to the office to simply sit in a cubicle with a laptop, which can be done from home. Employees who are offered flexibility feel more desire to win. But flexibility doesn’t mean working from home or working from anywhere. It could also just be the hybrid piece that you get. One day at home, or you have flex hours and the company doesn’t care if you work six to three or nine to six.
In the freight industry, technology is not here to replace people; it’s here to enhance people and make them more efficient. Ten years ago, when the technology wasn’t there, somebody may have been able to hit their quota every day and make x amount of money. And now, because of technology, they’re tripling their quota and making that much more money, because the system is enabling them to do more in a day; it’s not taking their job away. If you are hiring people for manual labor, and the robots are able to perform that labor, then you really need the humans for their brains and their emotions and their relationship-building skills.
To help create a more vibrant and diverse labor pool, GreyOrange was a sponsor of the Women in Supply Chain event where Marie McCarthy, Chief Commercial Officer at L.L.Bean, was recently honored.