With only 26% of the transport workforce being made up of women, it’s an important conversation to examine the challenges women in transport face today.

Recent data from Women in Transport research shows that 69% of women surveyed felt the industry has a macho culture, 70% said it has an image problem and 70% reported experiencing discrimination, sexist remarks, jokes or statements targeted at them.

Whether it’s roles for a warehouse manager or HGV fleet operator, Britain’s roads, rail and logistics will be more successful if we begin to tackle the gender gap which currently exists.

Speaking on the bite-sized transport podcast ‘Lunch with Leon’ – hosted by Leon Daniels an experienced transport consultant and former MD of Surface Transport at TfL – I discussed some of the ways organisations can make a change and help close the gender pay gap today.

1. Employee engagement

Listening to employees directly about what programmes, practices and policies can be put in place is critical. Reverse mentoring, where senior people are mentored by more junior employees, is an effective tool for engaging people at work. By engaging with and listening to female employees, companies can gain direct insights into the challenges and barriers they face. These might include unconscious biases, lack of mentorship, exclusion from informal networks, cultural barriers, or concerns about work-life balance. Without this first-hand knowledge, organisations may overlook or misunderstand these issues.

2. Staffing initiatives

Although talking about gender pay gaps, or gender disparities in transport and logistics is important, taking action is the fastest way to create change. Companies that actively look to hire more women into male-dominated roles are making a real difference. For instance, Go-Ahead, a leading bus company in the UK, is aiming to recruit 1,500 more women bus drivers by the end of next year, moving towards an eventual 50/50 gender split. This initiative started by creating a women’s network a year ago and asking the existing women drivers what policies or practices were needed to recruit more women drivers.

3. Inclusive recruitment practices

Simple low-cost actions can help to make recruitment practices more inclusive such as considering the wording of job descriptions and job adverts, removing personal details from CVs and having diverse interview panels. Questions about salary history can perpetuate the gender pay gap, as women’s past earnings often reflect systemic discrimination. Gender should be in no way an influence on the application process.

4. Encourage retention

Our recently published Equity Index report recommends transport employers put in place policies that will close the gender gap. These include overhauling paid parental leave policies, improving flexible working practices, and championing initiatives that empower women into leadership positions. It’s also important to challenge biases and breakdown stereotypes by listening to women’s experiences and perspectives. This will enable companies to identify aspects of their culture that may be unwelcoming and work to create a more inclusive environment.

5. Collaborate more: gender equity is a mission for everyone

Women in Transport have around 125 volunteers across the country – I think it’s important to say that we are open to everyone. We are called Women in Transport, but we aren’t only about women. We won’t get anywhere with women alone, it’s about everyone working together to create a diverse workforce. Women account for 3-5% of drivers, for instance, so the industry needs men and women working together to close that gap. A simple action that transport employers can take is to get involved with the Women in Transport Equity Index and declare their diversity data. Our Equity Index report shows transport is lagging behind other sectors in closing the gender gap. But it has created a baseline to build on so we encourage transport organisations to help us drive change.

Jo Field, president of Women in Transport

This article is based on a discussion between Leon Daniels and Jo Field on the Lunch with Leon podcast. To listen to the full episode visit: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/jo-field/id1526820389?i=1000656260679.