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International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the achievements of great women in the workforce – but it’s equally important to highlight the opportunity for better representation and diversity, particularly in the transport industry. Women make up just 16.9 per cent of transport roles and are far less likely than men to be in leadership positions – only 4.5 per cent of CEOs in transport businesses are women. It’s time to champion change.

A more inclusive workforce is critical to the future of the industry. In the 20-year period between 2011 to 2031, Australia’s domestic freight task is projected to grow by 80 per cent, as online shopping and demand for instant delivery increase. At the same time, Australia is experiencing an extreme truck driver shortage as fewer people are taking up the trade. Businesses need to think outside the box when it comes to hiring new staff and must consider how to train and retain a diverse range of employees for success.

The benefits of gender equality

The landscape is already changing. The number of women taking on apprenticeships in transport and distribution driving is at its highest ever, making up 21 per cent of the current intake according to The Age.

Beyond helping to secure the future of the transport industry and ensuring Australia moves forward, this increasing diversity has a huge range of benefits for companies. More inclusive workplaces allow for a happier environment, fresh perspectives, increased collaboration and best of all, innovation – all of which contribute to your bottom line. Companies ranked highly for gender diversity on executive teams are 21 per cent more likely to outperform on profitability, are in a better position to make strong leadership decisions, and experience up to 53 per cent higher return on equity.

It also helps to attract future talent in the business by appealing to younger employees, with nearly a fifth of millennial workers choosing an employer based on reputation for diversity and inclusion. Organisations with women at the helm also rank highly among prominent ‘most admired’ company lists.

The initiatives leading the charge

The good news? The industry is heading in the right direction – 34.2 per cent of transport companies have an overall gender equality strategy, compared to the 32.9 per cent average for all businesses. With many local businesses tackling gender equality issues head on, there’s a growing focus on encouraging young women to consider a career in transport.

A Girl Guides Australia initiative of ‘wheels’ badges for guides, in conjunction with Transport Women Australia (TWAL) , is helping to raise awareness of the transport industry and what part women can play, by highlighting the existing opportunities available for women of all ages.

The TWAL itself is an organisation that champions women in transport through regular networking events, to empower and connect women across the country. With plans to reinvigorate its mentoring program, TWAL is working to encourage new female talent.

Similarly, the Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girl’s National Heavy Vehicle Driver Training Institute in Karratha aims to tackle the rising driver shortage by providing women with professional training development throughout their career. With its bright pink trucks and high-vis vests, it’s all about creating an environment that’s fun and supportive.

The increased representation of women across the board means that there are more role models than ever, with leaders like Heather Jones, who pioneered the Pilbara Training Institute, and QTA’s Trucking Woman of the Year, Melissa Strong, demonstrating the positive impact of women in the workplace, and on the industry as a whole.

This International Women’s Day, Teletrac Navman wants to commend the achievements of women working in the transport industry and shine a light on those leading the way. While the sector is already making great strides towards diversity, there’s still a lot to be done – and it needs to be driven by far-reaching, industry-wide change.

Happy International Women’s Day! For more information on the current state of female representation in transport, check out the 'Women in Transport' infographic.

Megan Duncan is a Director of Marketing at Teletrac Navman.

Megan Duncan is the Director of Marketing, Australasia at Teletrac Navman. Megan has 10+ years experience in marketing technology solutions with background in Telecommunications and IT channels.