Broader and more inclusive policies offer freight firms of all sizes solutions to staffing and innovation challenges – and higher profits – experts highlighted at the Multimodal 2022 event Diversity and inclusion (D&I) offer freight and logistics firms the opportunity to solve their recruitment, retention and other staffing challenges as well as improving profits and innovation, experts highlighted at the Multimodal 2022 event this week. Far from being a tick-box exercise, diverse recruitment offers benefits to companies of all sizes, stressedJennifer Swain, head of talent and operation at Road to Logistics, a government-sponsored training organisation aiming to solve the UK’s driver shortage problems. She urged people to present to senior decision-makers the positive statistics available illustrating how making the extra effort to recruit and support diverse candidates can bring tremendous rewards such as in improved retention, performance, and decision-making. Rachel Osikoya, head of D&I at Maersk, said various factors had combined in the last few years to make D&I increasingly important for companies, from the MeToo and BLM movements, the growing influence of social media, the Covid pandemic, and the greater need for technology and innovation, as well as talent and staffing competition and shortages. She highlighted a GlassDoor survey that found 67% of jobseekers were looking for companies that have D&I high on their agenda – “so they can be who they are in your organisation”. Swain said the industry’s talent shortages mean “we have to think about how to open up channels so people think of us as an employer of choice. D&I is a great way of doing that” – as well as bringing other benefits of diversity. Ruth Edwards, operations director for training and development agency Talent in Logistics, stressed that freight companies are no longer competing for talent just with the logistics company up the road, but across multiple industries. This was particularly true when seeking skilled technology and innovation professionals, stressed Osikoya, who said “technology in logistics is a huge factor now”. But the industry, and until recently her company, faced various limiting stereotypes about who they are, what they do, and the kind of people that they would welcome – such as being male-dominated and conservative. This was one reason for Maersk’s ‘Rainbow Container’, designed to symbolise the company’s openness to diversity. Osikoya also urged companies to allow their staff and particularly those from diverse backgrounds to be the best messengers and ambassadors for the industry, for example via social media or when talking to young people and potential recruits, rather than focusing on corporate channels or traditional methods. While D&I is a broad topic, she suggested companies start on just one area, and others will follow – for example, examining whether recruitment campaigns were successfully attracting a diverse range of applications. And she urged companies to consider the interview process and the entire recruitment process to identify possible areas of bias and barriers to recruiting people from different backgrounds.