Gender Equality: How Europe’s Transport Sector Can Deliver

With over 11 million employees, the transport and logistics sector is a vital sector for the European workforce. However, the division of gender reveals that only 22 per cent of transport workers are female within the EU. This is disappointing, considering that in total, women make up about 46 per cent of the total EU workforce.

There are various sector-specific initiatives to encourage women to enter into these lucrative careers, with campaigns also supporting businesses in their equal employment efforts. However, the need to drive employment among new recruitment pools is essential.

While uneven in terms of gender, the age balance in the sector is significantly unbalanced. The average age of commercial drivers in Europe is 45, with only seven per cent of drivers aged below 25. It suggests that in time, there will be a huge demand for people in these roles. The availability of owner driver jobs means that businesses need to find new ways to attract talent.

The critical shortage of driver shortages, along with the need to diversify the workforce, presents a unique opportunity to solve two problems at once. If women can be encouraged into the sector, the success of the industry is bound to grow.

A welcoming workplace

Education centres are integral in shaping the careers of their students. Young girls and women are often actively discouraged from pursuing careers in traditionally “male” sectors, including science, technology, transport, and logistics. If young women don’t feel confident or inspired to study these subjects, they’re less likely to enter these careers and industries.

Often, these sectors are perceived as male-dominated spaces. Not only are women underrepresented, but there’s a feeling they’re unwelcome. Knowing a workforce is 80% men is enough to put aspiring young women off, especially when an ETF report highlights a sexist culture plaguing some of these organisations.

It’s an enduring task to transform workplace culture. But creating an inclusive environment is critical to reassuring women that your organisation will be a safe place for them. Promoting more women internally and ensuring women are represented at board level will also send a message that your business values female employees as much as male workers.

Your female trailblazers

Demonstrating the success of your female employees is a positive way to spotlight the positive careers of your best workers. You can push out content and feature these employees on your website. By making these successful women the face of your organisation, you’ll help dispel the idea that haulage and transport is a boy’s club.

Doing this in job roles where you are seeking to promote female recruitment is essential. So, if your driver workforce is majority male and you have female drivers who are keen to discuss their experiences, you can highlight their achievements.

Partnering this strategy with other organisations that promote gender equality can be a positive initiative. You can promote your business as gender-inclusive and introduce it to potential new employees. Equally, your existing female employees can get involved in networking events, deliver presentations, and take part in mentoring to further encourage women to pursue a career in transport and logistics.

Leaning at work

Some women may feel they have been discouraged from partaking in specific subjects in school which were traditionally considered masculine topics. Today, women outperform men in STEM subjects, but for some, there is still a lack of experience within these fields. So, in order to increase the percentage of women in the sector’s labour force, you need to attract candidates that may be new to the jobs or the industry.

Women may be unable to apply for roles without evidence of experience, so offering on-the-job training can be pivotal in their decision to apply for a new career. Many people who were unable to work due to COVID-19 restrictions turned to delivery driving due to an increased demand for these roles. With the pandemic accelerating the adoption of online shopping, this demand is set to remain high.

This change will also affect warehouse and logistic companies. Promoting your roles to people who may not already be in the sector and training them on the job gives you the opportunity to access a wider candidate pool. It also means women who aren’t currently in the sector have a better opportunity to get into it.

The room where it happens

Women need to be involved in making big decisions within companies in the sector. While the percentage of women in transport, logistics, and haulage organisations is low across the board, there are definitely more women in back-office, logistics, and warehousing roles compared to drivers. If you have women in senior positions in your business, it’s critical to involve them in decisions regarding training and recruitment. They’ll be able to offer a perspective that you simply won’t get from men who are well-established in the sector.

There are a variety of roles in the sector, but the experience of women at any level is similar. As we’ve seen, some businesses are plagued with outdated, sexist cultures, so they’ll be able to offer insights into what it’s really like. If you’re not aware of a cultural problem, they can highlight it. However, if your business is already inclusive and inviting for women, you’ll be able to understand what you’re doing right and therefore promote this to potential new female employees.

 

In recent years, gender inequality has been discussed more openly. We know that the reason some businesses have a higher disparity between male and female employees is because women are discouraged from certain roles and sectors from a young age. But even successful women in these roles can be discouraged by cultural issues and a lack of progression in their businesses.

The workforce crisis that the transport and haulage sector is facing is huge, and imbalances in employment are contributing to the problem. Encouraging women in Europe to pursue a rewarding career in the industry is vital not only in making it an equal playing field, but it may be the key to replacing an ageing workforce.

 

Sources

https://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/social/women-in-transport_en

https://www.commercialfleet.org/news/latest-news/2020/03/13/driver-...

https://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2018/mar/08/bridg...

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/02/it-has-been-difficult...

https://www.etf-europe.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/ETF-summary-r...

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