By Katie Hulland, President of Women in Transport
Women in Transport is a professional network for women and men across the transport sector. We empower women to maximise their potential and run an extensive events programme, including professional development workshops, networking opportunities with industry leaders and a mentoring programme.
We worked with parliamentarians to set up the first ever All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Transport. We provide secretariat support to the group and support meetings in Parliament on the issue of under-representation of women in transport. Our programme of events highlights best-practice examples of employers leading the way on gender diversity. The parliamentary group has helped sharpen the Government’s focus on the issue of women’s under-representation, and has gained agreement that more women in transport are crucial to meeting the gap that exists between what Government wants to achieve in transport infrastructure and the capacity to deliver it.
International Women’s Day is an important chance for us to mark the growing momentum for gender parity, and recognise the amazing contributions that women are making to rail and across the sector. We will be sharing our members’ experiences and successes on Twitter @transportwm.
With this year’s theme of #pressforprogess, we should all recognise that, despite positive gains for inclusivity in the rail and transport sector, we need to keep this momentum up. With the skills gap faced by the industry, we can’t afford to be complacent.
We know from our membership that key issues for improving gender inclusivity include recruitment, retainment and opportunities for progression.
We need to be vocal that gender inequality is a problem for everyone. We are seeing a growing movement for staff networks on gender equality to involve men, and for everyone in the industry to consider how they can be a positive role model. We are also starting to see the impact of unconscious bias training on recruitment within the industry.
A clear theme has been the need to continue to challenge workplace culture in transport. Equal pay, flexible working, shared parental leave and zero tolerance to bias and discrimination are all seen as key to creating a positive environment for all.
Change needs to be led by the very top of the transport industry but there should be dialogue between men and women at all levels on how to improve diversity. The business benefits of a diverse workforce are now clear and this is helping to drive change.
We need to think about our ‘leaky pipe’ and how we keep our talent. Central to this are inclusive workplaces and the right training and support. The industry needs to review best practice and see what’s working in this sector, and where we are falling behind other male-dominated industries.
We also need to highlight women in senior leadership roles and challenge when there is a lack of representation at a higher level.
While the industry is taking steps to address women’s under-representation, we need to ensure the momentum for gender parity continues. Enthusiasm needs to be turned into positive action that leads to a more gender-balanced workforce. There has never been a more important time to #pressforprogress.
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