Gender equality in haulage: steering towards the future

Published: 03 January 2020

Gender equality in haulage: steering towards the future
In the logistics and supply chain industry, many argue there is a lack of gender equality. There are various factors as to why this could be. Research shows, in the industry, only 25% of senior managers or directors are women.  While there are 315,000 lorry drivers registered in the UK, only 2,200 of those are female. 15% of those are between ages 21-25, showing already more women have interest in getting behind the wheel.

Following a poll on twitter asking females users if they would feel ready to drive a 44-tonne truck, in which over 79% said yes. FTA skills policy development manager Sally Gilson spoke on the matter:

“These figures are encouraging as it is essential that more women are recruited – currently only one per cent of HGV drivers in the UK are female. We believe that one of the biggest barriers for would-be truck drivers is the cost of gaining a licence and training – around £3,000. FTA has been calling on Government to provide a suitable loan system.”

For companies, there is a major benefit to more diverse individuals taking on senior manager or director roles. Researchers found that this can lead to a 40% greater return on sales, along with 50% greater return on equity. This was when comparing the statistic of 500 businesses across the UK.

With more businesses becoming aware of the gap and taking appropriate steps to counter this, many are still looking to work out the best possible solution for firms and their potential employees, in which everyone benefits. For many, short-term fixes are considered to be the best approach to handle the concerns faced by the gender gap.

There must also be consideration for cases of positive discrimination, which becomes a challenging dilemma for firms deliberating between potential applicants for senior roles of both male and female.

Bis Henderson Recruitment published a white paper addressing the matter titled: 'How achieving gender equality can drive greater financial performance’, summing up a wide range of views on the topic from some of the leading supply chains.

The report addresses the topic of discrimination, explaining that any form is unacceptable. Choosing to fill quotas can cause as many issues as it could also resolve. The chosen candidate should be based on their skills and merit alone with no other factors interfering the employment process.

Bethany Fovargue, operations manager at NOVUS Trust and former member of the Women in Logistics steering committee said: “Positive discrimination is wrong; nobody wants to be the token woman. The thinking shouldn’t be ‘our board is 100% men, we need 25% women’. The business should be questioning the culture and then changing that culture; that’s where you start getting value in having diverse boards.”

With the lorry driver shortage, currently estimated at 59,000 drivers by the FTA – as many more younger women are beginning to show an interest in the role, the industry must do its part to appeal to a new generation of drivers. Progress must be made to ensure women in the industry will feel welcome to their role, becoming one of the team without discrimination. Similarly to leading and executive roles in the logistics sector.
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