The events of May and June brought diversity, equity, and inclusion to the conversational forefront. Companies across the United States considered how to support the movement, rather than just the moment. For Langham Logistics, DEI is part of our DNA. As a woman-owned business in a male-dominated industry, creating equitable opportunities for everyone has been our philosophy from the very beginning.
Our President and CEO Cathy Langham and Human Resources Manager Jessica Foster sat down to discuss how a focus on diversity makes Langham Logistics a better business—for customers, communities, and ourselves.
Why has Langham Logistics been so focused on DEI?
Cathy: As a female founder, I know it can be tough to break into certain roles, especially in logistics. Only about 15% of firms have females in executive-level roles today.
When we started the company 33 years ago, we had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously and earn clients. Feeling excluded in those early days taught us the importance of being inclusive as we built the business. In fact, “leveraging the diverse experiences of our team” to serve customers is our core purpose.
How do you ensure equitable opportunities for staff?
Jessica: We focus on diversity in our recruiting and promotional practices. When it comes to hiring the best candidate, we make accommodations for inclusion. We ran a special project in April with several individuals from Haiti by hiring a translator. We’ve worked to attract bilingual staff to support Spanish-speaking employees as well. We see the value of an individual as part of our organization regardless of race, color, sex, religion, or the language they speak.
All staff have access to training opportunities and tuition reimbursement for advancement. Our partnership with a strong leadership training company allows employees to take advantage of personal development resources and prepares them for supervisor or manager roles.
The pandemic exposed many economic insecurities, especially for minority populations and women. How did you address these issues?
Jessica: Each year we set a theme. We launched into the new decade to “Relentlessly delight our internal and external customers.” As the events of 2020 unfolded, that theme served as a powerful reminder to focus on our employees even more.
We’ve offered hazard pay to our warehouse workers since the pandemic began. Everyone is equipped with PPE for safety. Employees can take additional time off and borrow against PTO (paid time off). We worked hard to protect jobs and salaries despite customer changes and the economic slowdown. We approached the pandemic with a personal touch.
We’ve always thought of our employees like family. We understand that what happens at home will affect their work. During extreme hardships, we’ve come together to offer paid time off and monetary donations to help our staff. That support extends to the community. Langham matches payroll contributions to the United Way of Central Indiana. We also donate significant financial resources to local organizations such as Gleaners Food Bank and the Cancer Support Community of Indiana, as well as host quarterly blood drives.
Our vision statement includes “improving the lives of others.” We make that a priority every day.
What is the mark of success for diversity and inclusion?
Cathy: The work of DEI is never finished. It will always be a priority.
Our biggest asset is our employees. We will continue to invest in them by providing stable employment, training and education, and opportunities for advancement. That allows us to promote from within and develop more diversity among our leadership team at all levels.
Jessica: Over the last four years, we’ve worked very hard to develop our warehouse staff. A talented employee named Michele started out as a frontline warehouse employee. She has taken advantage of multiple training opportunities and progressed into various leadership roles. She now serves as a warehouse supervisor and has built a diverse team around her. She had a team member who spoke limited English. Michele learned how to communicate with her because she was such an asset.
Diversity helps improve diversity.
Does diversity create a competitive advantage?
Cathy: Yes. There are lots of job opportunities in logistics. A diverse workforce helps us establish a connection with talented candidates and attract them to Langham. They see people who look like them; who speak their language. When a person joins Langham, they are not just a number. We get to know them, welcome their ideas, and leverage their talents to make our company even better.
Beyond attracting talent, diversity also creates business opportunities. We are more adaptable to client needs and smarter in how we solve logistics problems because we welcome different perspectives created by diverse staff.
Jessica: I can support this from my personal experience. Before I came to Langham, I was offered a position with a different company. Throughout the interview process, I did not see a single female. Everyone was very nice, but I didn’t feel that sense of connection. At Langham candidates see different genders, races, and ethnicities. When I can communicate with a candidate in Spanish, it creates a completely different interview experience and helps us sell Langham.
About Langham Logistics
We believe diversity makes a difference. Inclusion creates innovation. Equity drives excellence.
Learn more about Langham Logistics and why our DEI initiatives are just one reason we’ve become a recognized leader for solving complex supply chain challenges.