The transport industry faces many challenges, with demand for service at an all-time high. Client expectations are also increasing, thanks to next day-delivery services and new apps which make shopping as simple as a swipe or tap.
With rising pressures on transport firms, the need for skilled workers is outstripping supply. As a result, businesses are struggling to keep pace and adapt to a changing environment. The freight task is expected to increase, while 80 per cent of employers believe they are short on staff with specialised skills. The future looks precarious when half the industry’s driving workforce will be 65 by 2026. And with demand for workers exceeding supply, there is a risk that the market price of drivers will increase, putting further pressure on companies’ attempts at controlling costs.
At the same time, women are still largely underrepresented in transport, despite the number of women working in the industry doubling since the late 1970s. Increasing diversity in the workplace is essential for several reasons, not least because it will alleviate the challenges caused by the current worker shortage.
Benefiting from workplace diversity
Women joining the transport industry could fill vacant roles that currently exist throughout the sector. And more importantly, diverse workplaces encourage more strategic and innovative thinking by increasing the range voices heard. With fresh eyes, businesses can easily solve issues through innovative thinking and varied experiences. That’s in addition to the business benefits, with companies in the top quartile for gender diversity 21 per cent more likely to experience above-average profitability. On top of that, organisations with women in at least 30 per cent of their leadership positions are 15 per cent more profitable than those that are less diverse.
More women within the workplace has a wider influence on the Australian economy. For example, increased employment levels for women since 1974 has boosted economic activity in Australia by 22 per cent. If this trend was to continue, Australia’s annual GDP would increase by $60 billion within 20 years, driving up living standards at the same time.
Who’s driving change in Australian transport?
Many transport organisations in Australia have already committed themselves to increasing diversity in the workplace.
BHP set itself the goal of a gender balanced workforce by 2025 and established a Global Inclusion and Diversity Council to achieve its objectives. Since creating the Council, turnover of female workers has decreased by 50 per cent and the percentage of women in its workforce has increased by 40 per cent.
Likewise, Volvo Australia entered into a partnership with Wodonga TAFE and Transport Women Australia to offer a new month-long training course in heavy vehicle operation and maintenance, with the goal of introducing more women to trucking and heavy vehicle mechanics.
Meanwhile, Heather Jones and the Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girl’s National Heavy Vehicle Driver Training Institute in Karratha are addressing the driver shortage by providing women with professional training development throughout their career.
There’s more to be done
With the great strides made in improving conditions and making transport an attractive employment option for women, more work is needed to make the industry more inclusive and diverse.
A mere 26.4 per cent of transport workers are women, and nearly half work in administration – only 6.5 per cent are in driving positions. Almost three quarters of women in transport report that they have or will face discrimination in the workplace. Meanwhile, the gender pay gap for transport workers is believed to be 19.5 per cent, or in excess of $21,000 dollars a year on average.
While the gap is closing, it’s important for businesses and business leaders to continue to champion change within the industry.
To encourage diversity across transport, we ask you to join us in driving change. This is a promise that we’re making to ourselves, to our people and to our industry. We will work harder than ever to make our workplace and the industry more inclusive. We hope that you will join us.
Do you pledge to:
- Address key concerns within your organisation regarding workplace diversity;
- Take part in initiatives that help raise awareness about the industry; or
- Support women at your workplace in any way you can?
If the answer is yes, share your pledge on social media today and include the hashtag #DrivingChange.
For a closer look at gender diversity in transport, download our whitepaper, ‘Driving Change – A Closer Look at Women in Transport Whitepaper’.