TF Spotlight: Media’s role in Logistics evolution
Supply chain disruption has become the new normal in our post-Pandemic business world. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine compounded the logistics challenges that companies were already facing. A recent report by Accenture claimed that, depending on the length and severity of the war, the cost of supply chain disruption in the Eurozone across 2022 – 2023 could amount to: EUR242 billion (2% of GDP) in an ongoing war scenario, or EUR920 billion (7.7% of GDP) in a protracted war scenario. On top of logistics breakdowns, energy prices, soaring inflation, as well as raw material and talent shortages continue to cause problems for the logistics industry.
In the UK, where Meantime is headquartered, a recent survey commissioned by Ivalua revealed that 80% of businesses here blamed Brexit for being the biggest disrupter to supply chains in 2022, with 83% fearing the biggest disruption from Brexit is yet to come. The report claimed that 80% of UK businesses say that ‘Black Swan’ events such as Brexit, COVID-19, and the war in Ukraine had “left supply continuity on life support”. With challenge, however, also comes opportunity and against this bleak backdrop, we are seeing companies re-evaluating their business processes, as well as new companies coming to the fore with fresh ideas and a different approach.
It is time to reinvent the supply chain and put resilience, customer experience, and sustainability centre stage. Technology, AI, and smart data all have a vital role to play in this brave new world, by disrupting outdated processes, unlocking potential, and
driving new initiatives. It is easy to focus on the challenges, but these difficult times are also shining a light on the logistics industry and we should be more vocal about celebrating our achievements and highlighting our adaptability and innovation.
Since the early 90s, when I first started reporting on the industry, the talk has been about digitalisation. Unfortunately, far too often there was too much talk and not enough action. Whether this was down to fear of investment, a lack of understanding, or a mentality of “this is how we have always done it” is hard to say, maybe it was a mix of all three.
Cloud computing was a game changer, but still the industry seemed to dig its heels in. Then the pandemic came along and forced the acceleration of digital adoption. Smart use of technology, AI, and Big data, are now understood to be key to building resilient, sustainable supply chains, as well as engendering much-needed collaboration.
The industry is getting better at adopting technology, but there is still a long way to go. Logistics companies must stop fearing disruptors and instead embrace the opportunities that come with digitalisation. Hand in hand with digitalisation, must come a focus on attracting and retaining talent to implement change and drive the industry forwards. The industry must pull together to do this by building great places to work and making sure that we celebrate success as well as showcasing our many logistics heroes.
It is true that when I first started writing about air cargo, I was one of very few women in the logistics industry, and indeed in the media reporting about it. It took a little getting used to and at times it has been frustrating, for example attending industry events where no women were speaking on panels, or worse, a panel of women was invited to speak, not about their individual specialisations, but about the fact that they were women.
Things are getting better, but we still have a long way to go to make sure we can encourage a diverse NextGen to join us, stay with us, and build our brave new logistics world. There are of course already many bright young people bringing energy and ideas to the industry and increasingly many women coming through the ranks or already in leadership roles.
The media can play its part by shining a light on them. But there is also plenty that we can all do to address diversity in the industry, and I believe that it is down to each and every one of us to take action, not only the media. We must stop putting our industry down and instead start showcasing our achievements, celebrating success and putting our many industry heroes centre-stage at events. To help with this, last year I teamed up with my friend and colleague Céline Hourcade, Founder and Managing Director of Change Horizon, to launch a movement for change called Women in Aviation and Logistics (WAL).
To date we have eight industry associations and networks, three media outlets, 23 companies, and 93 individuals signed up to a pledge to work towards gender equality. You can see who they are and also sign the pledge at www.womeninaviationandlogistics.org. We have also launched a WAL database of female experts willing to speak, or judge awards, or put themselves forward for Board level positions, which includes 61 experts so far. Last year we launched a mentorship scheme connecting 27 mentees from all over the world with mentors, both men and women of different ages, for a four-month initiative requiring a minimum commitment of an hour a month for four months. I have been regularly issuing press releases and organising interviews in the media to talk about WAL, and by spreading the word, we are making a tangible difference. This is just one example – all ideas are welcome. We are stronger together and we can make a change.
Meantime is celebrating 15 years of supporting the supply chain and logistics industry this year and we remain very focused on a people, planet, profit business modeal and so we are involved with a number of initiatives to support that philosophy. I am the chairman of the Seahorse Freight Association, which organises awards for journalists in our sector and the team here was involved in helping to organise everything from the judging to the event itself before Christmas. We were very pleased to welcome Rajni Patwardhan to the event in London as Kale was a sponsor. We are grateful to Kale for supporting our initiative to encourage and reward great, independent reporting in our industry, as well as encouraging the NextGen of journalists. Both our youngest winner, and our youngest judge were under 30 !
Meantime is also a Climate Positive Workforce, which means that we offset staff travel to work and business travel by planting trees and investing in climate projects globally. So far, working with our partner Ecologi, we have planted almost 6,000 trees, offsetting 245.46 tonnes of carbon. We can track the projects we are involved with at ecologi.com/meantimecommunications. And this month, for example, we were part of the investors in a wind farm project in Turkey.
Training and Next Gen are important to us and we welcome students from the Taylor Bennet Foundation Scholarship Course at least once a year to give them a chance to meet the team and find out what it is like to work in B2B PR. Taylor Bennet www.taylorbennettfoundation.org encourages BAME candidates in the PR industry. As part of the focus on NextGen, we also welcome work experience candidates form schools that are local to our London Bridge Offices and also host an intern over the summer months. We are very excited that our 2022 intern, Hannah Brown has now joined us as a full-time member of the Meantime staff.