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Moving for the ladies

Nov 17, 2014
What started as a social gathering on LinkedIn three years ago is developing into a tour de force for women working in the international moving industry. LIMA (Ladies in Moving), has the backing of IAM and has already recruited over 200 members worldwide. Steve Jordan offers a male view.

It was the brainchild of Marina Svetlichnaya from Art Relocation in Russia.  She recognised that women, working in a male dominated industry, could benefit from a little cohesion. If nothing else, swapping stories and expanding their bank of like-minded contacts worldwide, would provide increased knowledge and added confidence.

LIMA held a two-hour business session during the IAM conference in Orlando to which I was invited as a visiting journalist.  As I entered the room, as the sole male participant, I began to understand what Mariana had in mind.  When the balance of the sexes is significantly skewed either way it can be a little intimidating – even (perhaps especially) for a chap as we are less used to it than the ladies.

The meeting was facilitated by Alexandra Borovkova also from Art Relocation.  She said that it was sometimes hard for women working in a man’s business.  The purpose of LIMA was to make it easier by networking and finding reliable agents worldwide that women could use with confidence.  She also said that it was the intention to form an executive committee to nanage the organisation and asked for ideas about how best to proceed.

Alexandra then introduced a series of speakers each who gave her own impression of the role of LIMA and its significance. Barbara Sevelli from the Gosselin Group said that there was a need to encourage a mentoring programme; while Anne Van Gils said the members should share experiences of working in a male dominated industry, for example, when requesting flexible working to accommodate child care.

Georgia Angell, from Foremost Forwarders said that LIMA should be more than just a social thing. It needed structure, a mission statement and bylaws.  While Evelyn de Jaen, General Manager of LACMA said that most companies already have women in leading roles and they don’t need to prove anything.

It’s obviously early days for LIMA and, as a man, I am not sure I am entitled to an opinion and certainly not to criticise. Marina and her team have obviously done a good job in sparking interest and rallying considerable support. But taking an objective view, those who are crying for more structure are not wrong. The meeting was a very relaxed affair with little of the stage management we have come to expect elsewhere. LIMA has a logo, proudly displayed, but Alexandra said that the final design was still flexible!  Perhaps a decision should have been made before presenting it at IAM. First names were used throughout for introductions: great if you know the people but tricky for a newcomer. And after three years I was surprised that more of an organisational structure had not emerged already.

The proceedings were also dramatically female.  Well of course they were.  That’s the idea surely. They concluded with a raffle with donations of expensive-looking gifts – including handbags, chocolates and object d’art from around the world – with each giver and receiver earning stage time for a short company profile amid exclamations of approval from the audience.  It was a nice idea and an interesting way of creating bonds across continents but it did go on a bit.  Too much of the same at every meeting could risk the organisation losing credibility in my myopic male view. But who am I to say?  The whole point is for ladies to support ladies and they know the best way to do that I suppose.

Talking to other women at IAM, some who attended the LIMA meeting and some who didn’t, the jury seems to be out.  Some were wholeheartedly supportive, recognising that women experienced different pressures at work that needed to be acknowledged and addressed; some who felt very comfortable working in an increasingly less male dominated industry and wondered what all the fuss was about.

I think it’s fine.  If LIMA is needed, and initial reaction suggests it is, it will thrive and I wish it good fortune.  If it is not, I guess it will find its own level.  Either way, I trust that this rather frank report, from an unavoidably male perspective, doesn’t mean the door is closed to me at future LIMA meetings. Maybe I should wave a white flag as I enter next time.   


Photos, top to bottom: Georgia Angell; Marina Svetlichnaya; Alexandra Borovkova; Barbara Savelli (with Anne Van Gils); Evelyn de Jaen, General Manager of LACMA.

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