24 March 2017 | Sri Lanka

Gayani de Alwis, Co-Founder and Chair of WiLAT Sri Lanka and former Vice-Chair of CILT Sri Lanka, and Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson, CILT and WiLAT member, and Managing Director of the Hemas Logistics and Maritime Cluster, spoke to the National Agenda Committee’s Shenali de Silva.

In a wide-ranging interview published as an article and podcast for International Women’s Day, the three discussed the need to adapt work environments across the industry, making them more accessible to women and the demands of women’s lives. Measures discussed included equal pay, ensuring sexual harassment policies are in place and effectively enforced, as well as flexible working hours and career breaks. ‘If they (employers) want women coming back to the workplace, they have to make it conducive to us’ said Ms de Alwis, ‘things like having a crèche or job sharing…so at different times of life we are able to make choices as women.’

They also spoke of the need to change the preconceptions of women and in particular young women on the outside about transport and logistics. ‘As women who have already got into the industry and reached a certain level, our role should be to create that awareness’ said Ms de Alwis, suggesting mentoring can and should play a vital role in encouraging women.

Addressing this knowledge gap, Ms Chellaraja Wilson highlighted the wide array of jobs available in logistics and transport. ‘There are ample verticals…what we as women need to do is sell them’.

Ms de Alwis also pointed out how suited women are to the modern logistics and transport industry, highlighting the need for ‘problem solving and analytical skills, as well the ability to work interdependently and collaborate’. ‘These are all female skills and as women we should really talk about this’, she said.

The National Agenda blog is a thought leadership platform for Sri Lanka’s private sector, curated by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, under its National Agenda Committees (NAC) initiative. The aim of the initiative is to inspire new thinking on strategic economic issues and provide private sector input to Sri Lanka’s reform agenda.

WiLAT is the International Women’s Forum at The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. Launched in June 2013 with a mission to promote the logistics and transport industry to female professionals, and to encourage and support their career development within the profession, WiLAT continues to make an impact globally.

WiLAT Sri Lanka are pioneers of the acclaimed ‘Ignite’ mentoring programme. ‘Ignite’ aims to develop and support young female professionals and undergraduates, helping them to harness their true potential by providing learning and development opportunities. A particular focus is enabling one on one engagement with experienced mentors from the industry.