Without trucks Australia stops. The rallying cry for drivers across the country may be an old one, but the iconic slogan still rings true. And it’s becoming a reality.
Recruiting truck drivers for the transport sector I am keenly aware that Australia is in a truck driver crisis. There is a real risk that there will not be enough truck drivers in Australia to accommodate the predicated freight increase of 80% in the next decade. Something has to be done to keep Australia moving forward
Whilst the transport industry has long been dominated by men, tapping into women as a new talent pool would help to remedy truck driver shortages and also lead to improved business outcomes such as increased safety, productivity and workplace culture.
Randstad’s latest report, Women in Transport will take a deep dive into the challenges faced by women in the industry, looking at case studies of what some have done to succeed. The report includes detailed insights on what drivers are key to attracting the best female talent and how a gender balanced workplace can lead to improved business outcomes.
Given the negative portrayal of the sector by the media, what’s surprising to many is that the transport industry is highly technical, innovative and deeply connected to business across Australia. The vital role truck drivers play in our economy should be lauded. Instead, this great community of Aussie battlers driving the length and breadth of this great southern land is hidden away. If we are going to attract men and women to this industry we must shine light on the great opportunities to be had.
The transport industry needs more women at all levels. Gender balance would help to make businesses stronger. It also brings benefits to the entire workforce – a more inclusive culture and more empowered ways of working. Yes, there may be obstacles, but they can be overcome when companies make the cultural leap to embrace diversity as central to their future success”
Understanding how to best attract female talent to the transport industry is imperative if companies want to motivative women to pursue truck driving as a career. Randstad’s 2020 Employer Brand Research (REBR) investigated employee drivers, motivators and preferences and in the transport section found that the top 5 most attractive benefits of the transport industry includes flexible working hours (82%), vacation benefits (77%), working from home (71%), health care (66%) and training (66%).
Although some of these benefits align with what women want at work, women also indicated that they are looking for companies which provide a good work-life balance (58%) and a pleasant working atmosphere (44%). To attract more women to the transport sector, companies should be looking to create welcoming company cultures and aim not to burden staff with unreasonable workloads.
In my role as the National Transport Manager at Randstad, I see how dynamic and rewarding this industry is for those who drive. There is no reason why women should not consider a career in transport.
There are several misconceptions about the sector which I believe are both holding companies back from recruiting female talent and discouraging women from entering the sector
There are several misconceptions about the sector which I believe are both holding companies back from recruiting female talent and discouraging women from entering the sector. Like all industries, transport can be challenging. However, current media depicts unrealistic imagery of the transport sector, positioning it as tough, dirty work that is only suitable for men. This portrayal is not representative of the many career possibilities that transport has to offer. To attract more female talent, companies should look to avoid perpetuating these stereotypes and generalisations.
The transport sector also has a lot to learn from the mining sector, another traditionally male oriented industry. Mining companies, like Rio Tinto, BHP and others that have started to build a gender balanced workforce to benefit from increased productivity, fewer instances of violence on sites and increased revenue. Recent research from PWC found that across 500 mining companies that they surveyed, those with 25% or more female board members had a net profit margin that was 49% higher than average.
The feedback I have received from managers of transport companies across Australia who have taken on female truck drivers has been positive. Managers have told me that when compared to their male counterparts, women often; take better care of their trucks, keeping them clean and in good condition, are better spoken with external clients, leading to less instances of conflict, take more care when they are behind the wheel and are more diligent when it comes to paper work.
Currently, women only make up 16.9% of transport roles and 4.5% of the CEOs in transport businesses. To reap the benefits of gender diversity in the same way as mining, the transport sector must strive to attract and retain more female talent.
I conducted an interview with my transport and logistics team to get their perspectives about how to attract more women to the truck driving industry based on their experience recruiting in the transport sector. Many voiced concerns that transport companies are only interested in employing older drivers who are already experienced. This is acting as a barrier that is preventing younger women from entering the sector.
To meet the demands of the growing freight industry, companies should be looking to hire younger women, giving them the opportunity to develop long-term careers in transport. Offering good career development opportunities will help logistics firms attract top talent.
There are also a few basics that freight companies can improve on if they are to tap into the female talent pool. To attract female truck drivers, companies should install female amenities whilst also investing in driver assisting technology to make loading and unloading trucks less physically demanding.
Providing better entitlements and perks for women will be beneficial in attracting them into the industry. Employers could provide stronger support and consider making reasonable adjustments to the workplace to accommodate mothers or pregnant women, for example, they should roll out structured maternity leave programs that enable women who have had children to easily return to the workforce. This could be achieved through offering part time or casual hours for new mums wanting to come back to their old truck driving jobs.