For about 25 years, airfreight forwarders in the U.S. have been largely free of substantive federal regulations due to the demise of the Civil Aeronautics Board. Of course, forwarders had to make sure that hazardous materials were properly transported on planes, but for the most part, the domestic industry was largely burden-free. read more
Air Cargo World Magazine - Forwarders’ Forum
On June 29, the U.S. House and Senate approved the long-awaited highway reauthorization bill, which sets the U.S.’s transportation policy for the next two years. The bill includes a commitment to streamline the approval process for project completion and provide states with greater flexibility when utilizing federal funding. The bill also provides $105 billion in funding for essential programs. read more
Since achieving the goal of 100-percent screening of cargo on passenger flights leaving domestic airports, the U.S. government is aggressively pursuing the same objective for airfreight destined for the U.S. from other countries. The vehicle used to accomplish this task is the National Cargo Security Program, an initiative that places a high priority on achieving harmonization agreements on screening procedures.
Many see NCSP as the path to recognition of foreign screening requirements. So far, the initiative has seen some success, but progress has been slow, with only about four countries agreeing to participate in the initiative; there are currently 20 more agreements in the pipeline. The absence of a screening agreement with the U.S. should not imply that those countries are failing to inspect cargo on U.S.-bound planes. All countries are taking steps to secure departing flights in order to avoid the introduction of explosive devices, but these steps may not be consistent with current U.S. practices.
The Certified Cargo Screening Program continues to be a successful tool in implementing a cohesive set of laws to govern air cargo screening in the U.S. Industry players have been successfully checking cargo away from airports for almost two years without incident. Performing the task at offsite locations known as Certified Cargo Screening Facilities has alleviated congestion while facilitating a much more manageable screening process for all concerned. With significant investment and vigorous TSA oversight, most in the program are glad they participated and continue to reap the payoff in profits and faster processing.
However, there does not exist a U.S. government industry-certified program for trusted supply-chain partners to perform screening before tendering cargo to passenger air carriers on foreign soil. Since 80 percent of freight transported on these flights is tendered by multinational forwarders who are well known to and regulated by the TSA through the CCSP, certifying these trusted companies to screen cargo overseas would be a major step toward achieving the screening goal.
Pre-departure targeting of shippers is now underway through the Air Cargo Advanced Screening program. Shipment data reviewed under ACAS, when combined with participation in trusted entity programs, plays a major role in deploying screening resources toward elevated-risk cargo.
The absence of mutual program recognition within the supply chain, combined with the inability to certify screening practices in other countries, places the screening burden on airlines overseas. This necessitates the need for forwarders to dismantle consolidated pallets and skids at the airport to meet the TSA piece-level screening requirement. This is time-consuming, expensive and, as the result of lessons learned through the CCSP, completely avoidable.
The TSA should establish a voluntary initiative that would enable trusted forwarders and shippers to perform cargo screening upstream in the U.S.-bound international supply chain. The TSA could individually verify and audit foreign sites in much the same way it does with CCSP locations here in the U.S. Furthermore, participation could be leveraged with existing globally recognized trusted-entity programs. In countries without NCSP Recognition, this program would help reduce duplicate documentation, handling and screening to meet equivalent alternative requirements.
The U.S. Department of State currently recognizes more than 190 countries. Since not all countries have flights directly to the U.S., shipments from those not in the CSP may now need to be screened several times before reaching U.S. soil. Such a repetitive screening requirement is both time-consuming and foolhardy. Allowing trustworthy forwarders and shippers vetted by the TSA in these locations would not only accelerate the pace in meeting the mandated objective, but would ensure the U.S. remains a preferred trading partner.
— Brandon Fried is the executive director of the U.S. Airforwarders Association.
The chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, the host of America’s most prestigious golf tournament, recently was asked why the club prohibits female members. It seems that the head of IBM, a primary sponsor of the annual Masters tournament, cannot join because she is a woman. Rather than answer the question on this prickly issue, the chairman responded only that it was a “private matter.”
Is he kidding?
At the recent AirCargo 2012 conference in Miami, a group of highly successful women working in the airfreight industry gathered to discuss their experiences in meeting the challenges of this seemingly male-dominated business. As the airfreight industry begins to attract a more educated and sophisticated workforce, many of the gender stereotypes are beginning to fade as well. Change is occurring slowly, though.
Women have had a difficult time achieving equal opportunity in many industries. Recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that, on average, female employees still make only 77 cents for each dollar earned by their male counterparts. This gap has remained stagnant for the last decade.
Despite legislation in the U.S., such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, inequality clearly still exists today. Current employment practices often ignore the laws that ban discrimination and social expectations. Many women face the proverbial “glass ceiling,” which hinders their advancement to more senior positions that can offer higher pay. Companies’ promotion policies, along with lack of mentoring and support, contribute to the significant disparity. In addition, many women deal with harassment in the workplace, especially in higher-wage, traditionally male-dominated occupations.
A recent Ohio State University study about women working in logistics found that only 32 percent of those surveyed described their role within their company as managerial, while 19 percent were employed at the level of director. Few indicated higher positions, such as vice president or president; these jobs tend to be held by their male counterparts. The report indicated that 86 percent of women have immediate supervisors who are male.
The Ohio State report seems to indicate that skills are not the issue. The majority of the respondents (41 percent) had completed an undergraduate degree. On top of that, 34 percent indicated that they graduated with a master’s degree.
Regardless of the statistics working against women, those in freight forwarding continue to overcome the ingrained gender bias. Some have even shattered the glass ceiling. Names that come to mind include Panalpina CEO Monika Ribar and Hassett Express President Michelle Halkerston. Both of these women are encouraging examples of business leaders who prove that freight executive suites are not just for men.
Many forwarding companies realize that competing in a global environment presents diversity hurdles on a daily basis. To effectively compete, teams need to include women and men with a wide range of nationalities and ages. A gender-balanced, ethnically diverse and cross-generational team is not just about political correctness, but is essential to meet the challenges of international business.
Gender barriers in the freight forwarding industry appear to be coming down, as initiatives around the world are encouraging more women to join the industry. This trend is expected to continue, thanks to a growing number of logistics-focused women’s groups. The annual AirCargo conference plays a valuable role in that effort by featuring the ever-growing and popular women’s networking session. This session is specifically designed to promote discussion and confront gender bias issues.
Freight forwarding should not be viewed as a male or female industry, but one where good opportunities exist for all. We need to move forward without stereotyping freight transportation as a male sector. This can be accomplished through increased education, networking and career development opportunities.
As for the members at the Augusta National Golf Club, maybe the best advice would be to “man up” and dispense with the discriminatory policies of the past. Looking to recent changes in the airfreight forwarding industry may be a good place for them to start.