Opinion

Role models drive change

What do you choose to challenge in trucking? Is it to remove bias? Smash stereotypes? Or foster positive cultures?

In 2021, we are seeing more women in transport than ever before. The benefits of this are clear, and there are so many success stories, but there is still plenty more we can do. Of all transport workers, 26.4 per cent are women, primarily in administration roles, with 3 per cent in the driver workforce.

When we look at key statistics of women in the transport and logistics sector, we can see that the roles they occupy are primarily support-related such as administration, human resources, procurement, and finance. These same statistics also highlight that female transport and logistics employees have, on average, higher education levels than their male counterparts. 18.3 per cent have achieved a diploma or higher, compared with 11.7 per cent of males.

In February 2020, the ATA together with Teletrac Navman delivered its inaugural Driving Change Diversity Program, bringing together diverse industry champions from across the country. While the program looked at diversity on a much broader level than gender alone, the key themes and outcomes of the program remain relevant.

Unconscious bias and fear of discrimination were identified as predominant barriers to gender equality and inclusivity, followed closely by a lack of understanding and resources of how to create and maintain positive workplace cultures.

Research by Teletrac Navman tells us that nearly 70 per cent of women working in transport say there are plenty of opportunities, although the same number say they have faced, or believe they will face discrimination in the workplace.

2020 Diversity Champion and Group Services Manager at Russell Transport, Tanya De Landelles, says that its important the transport industry evolves a culture where the best person for any role is selected, not the expected stereotype.

But it’s not all negative – there are already so many wonderful examples of women taking the lead in transport and smashing the stereotype.

“You don’t have to be a lady in the office. You can drive a forklift or a truck. You can do anything, and I am living proof of that,” Project Coordinator at Johnstons Transport and 2020 Diversity Champion, Chantelle Gillier said.

So, how can we change the ‘mind trap’ to a ‘mind movement’? How do we shift the negative outlook and improve gender equality and inclusivity in industry? Although we cannot reshape a culture overnight, there are many things on an individual, business and whole-industry level that can help foster positive change.

For individuals it can be as simple as having a real conversation and sharing your story. The power of encouragement, mentorship and being a role model to others cannot be underestimated.

For businesses, you can expand your understanding of resources that are available to help drive change. You can connect with your team to understand their needs and challenges.

And for industry change, it is the role of the Australian Trucking Association and our members to foster strong leaders through programs like Driving Change or our Future Leaders Forum. It’s our role to support industry and provide a platform where we can have real conversations and share success stories. It’s also our role to advocate on behalf of industry to ensure the right legislation and policies are in place to support our ambition.

Driving change is not something that should be seen as scary or ‘too hard.’ It is something that is genuinely exciting and will have a lasting impact if you #ChooseToChallenge.

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