Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are key to a thriving and successful logistics sector, says Lesley O'Brien, Freightlink Europe and Freight Train.

Today (8 March) is International Womens’ Day, when women throughout the globe celebrate.  I love supporting and celebrating the success of my female colleagues.

It is almost 3 years since I promoted the idea that the RHA create a forum to support, mentor and encourage women and She’s RHA was born.

Again and again I am questioned about the barriers preventing women from entering the transport industry.

My male colleagues tell me that "the door is open" offering opportunities to both men and women. My stock response has been, "yes but there is no welcome sign".

This is a naïve question and a simplistic answer.

In today’s society we must consider the barriers posed not to women in general, but women of every age, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, ability, disability, background, personality, class….the list goes on.

Our industry continues to lament the skills shortage and yet ignores expert reports from the likes of Deloitte and McKenzie evidencing that companies with more diverse workforces perform better, are more profitable and have improved employee collaboration and staff retention.

The demographic of the transport industry is predominantly white, middle aged and male and this is the image we therefore portray.

Research amongst millennials shows that culture and work life balance plays a large part when making career choice. This is certainly noticeable to me when employing young drivers, who no longer want to work long hours or spend nights away from home.

Women are not the only group who are under-represented in our industry and we need to make changes.

This year on International Womens’ Day I am delighted that an RHA event, sponsored by Clipper Logistics and Isotrak, will be focusing on diversity and inclusion and not solely on women.

There are insightful presentations from Janet Jones of the Co-op, Fiona Triller of Creating Inclusive Cultures and Jenny Tipping, ex female lorry driver, with a passion for improving diversity and inclusion in transport.

The global theme of this years’ International Womens’ Day is #Balanceforbetter, which means balance for men and women of every characteristic and socio-economic group, and the first steps to diversity and inclusion are engagement.