In recent months there has been a lot of talk within the freight and logistics’ industry on the importance of a “social license”. Investopedia describes a Social License to Operate (SLO), as the ongoing acceptance of a company or industry's standard business practices and operating procedures by its employees, stakeholders and the general public. A social license is sought after for acceptance by the local community.
In regards to the supply chain and logistics industry, there is a gaping hole in the wider community supporting the need for trucks, train and sea movements. There seem to be a disconnect between the every persons common understanding how freight is moved and why it is essential. Those within the industry can see it but how does one convey this need to the wider community, the need to coexist and to rebuild the narrative.
To gain a Social License to Operate, we should focus on community appreciation and understanding of the industry. To invest in new technologies, to streamline processes, in order to maximise efficiencies across the entire supply chain.
To be able to embrace all these things, we need to have an understanding from the community so we can operate uninterrupted 24 hours per day. So we don’t have restricted truck movements along roads or complaints about the noise of freight trains. These restriction on the logistic industry interferes with the overall operation and ultimately impacts end consumer.
The challenge we face is to draw a connection between the frustration felt from “trucks clogging up our roads” and the “noisy, long freight trains” to accepting this as a necessity for Australia’s continued prosperity. As a vast island country, we need these components to ensure the shelves at the supermarket are well stocked and we can purchase the latest gadget or even car.
It is an industry the employs nearly half a million people across its major sub-sectors: Road Transport, Logistics, Warehousing and Stevedoring, contributes 8.6% to Australia’s GDP and has an estimated annual revenue of $95.65 billion. It is an industry that makes a significant impact towards the Australian economy.
The Supply Chain industry is unique, and indeed crucial to the growing economy of Australia. We cannot afford to be complacent, we should work every day to improve services and timeframes to maintain trust of the community. Provide an environment where investing and implementing the most efficient procedures to continually improve business practices is applauded and encouraged, as it will provide returns for all for the future.
With the recent State and Federal elections, politicians have spoken at industry conferences, expressed their support to these issues and the need for everyone to understand the origin point of their goods. With consideration given to the first and last mile, it’s encouraging to hear them speak of the issues we all face within this sector, it means they have heard us, now we need to work together to generate a strategy to ensure we all achieve this outcome.
As an industry, how do we get the support and interest from the community?
We have to educate, inform and work together on a streamline message. Merely reciting facts about the rapid population growth and the increase in trade units will increase the movements on the roads, no matter how true they are, will not change people’s mind sets. The goal should be to reshape a person’s mindset from being frustrated and annoyed by the sight and sound of the freight on road, rail and sea to being informed of the connectivity of the industry.
We are in need of an Australian wide campaign to establish awareness and appreciation towards the movements of goods. A streamline message is essential for the freight and logistics sector to convey the importance of freight movements to every Australian.
 Australian Industry and Skills Committee. “Transport and Logistics”, https://nationalindustryinsights.aisc.net.au/industries/transport/transport-and-logistics (accessed May 2019).