SAFC targets gender equality with new report

Industry body urges members to take immediate action on growing inequality in the transport and logistics sector workforce

SAFC targets gender equality with new report
Gender equality has reduced in South Australia's transport and logistics industry.


If South Australia’s freight industry is to be internationally competitive, it will need to tackle gender inequality in its workforce.

So says the South Australia Freight Council (SAFC), which has released a comprehensive report into the current state of the industry, and strategies to improve gender balances.

And its findings are likely to reflect outcomes in other states.

"SAFC recognises more must be done to ensure women are attracted to the transport and logistics industry, and once there, are retained by ensuring they are provided with the opportunities they merit, something which they may not have received in the past," its Gender and Inequality in Transport and Logistics: Best Practice Principles report says.

Women currently make up only 18.7 per cent of the workforce in the transport, postal and warehousing sector, the report noting that this proportion has fallen in recent years – down from 21.7 per cent in 2008.

Women are predominately employed in support-related roles, such as administration, human resources, procurement and finance.

The most common managerial positions held by women are in communications, human resources, business development, and risk management functions.

Regardless of the specific role, women face a significant – and now widening – gender pay gap.

In 2014, male staff in the transport space earned an average of 16.1 per cent more than women in the same roles, up from 5.2 per cent in 2007.

"More must be done to ensure women are attracted to the transport and logistics industry, and once there, are retained by ensuring they are provided with the opportunities they merit, something they may not have received in the past,"  SAFC CEO Neil Murphy says.

"We need to get away from the ‘blokes in blue singlets’ stereotype and highlight the diverse range of job and training opportunities that will help encourage women to enter the industry.

"The gender and equality figures show we’re moving in the wrong direction, and we as an industry need to take responsibility in addressing this issue.

"Workforce surveys actually show that female transport and logistics employees have considerably higher education levels, so we know that they have the desire, skills and knowledge to play a key role in what is a changing and advancing industry."

As part of the report, the SAFC sets out a comprehensive business case for eliminating these inequalities.

It says greater gender equality leads to improved engagement among staff of both genders; enhanced customer service; greater problem solving and innovation; and, ultimately, improved financial performance.

"Research further demonstrates the benefits for implementing best practice initiatives also extends to the broader workforce, and provides a powerful value proposition to support with attracting and retaining skilled workers."

The best practice principles advised in the report include: working to develop inclusive workplace cultures; commitment and support from business leaders; promotion of diverse career pathways; potential job redesigns; and active succession planning.

Promoting work-life balance and actively investing in training and workforce development are also encouraged through the SAFC report.

Importantly, the SAFC warns that policies and procedures are not enough on their own.

They also need to be backed by clear communication efforts to ensure that all staff and leaders are visibly and actively on board.

"Ideally, gender equality messages should be integrated into regular business communications, reinforcing why gender equality is important and how it is linked to the organisation’s vision, strategy and performance," the report says.

Murphy says the SAFC believes lack of awareness and training concerns are also at play.

"The Transport and Logistics Council has developed a career information booklet that outlines career pathways to help raise awareness of the diverse employment opportunities across the industry," he adds.

"Our report highlights steps that businesses can undertake to address gender and equality. It also includes career profiles of women in the workforce to demonstrate the diversity of roles across the industry.

"From a training perspective, we should be starting at school level by encouraging female students to apply for work experience and we can offer apprenticeships to female candidates.

"We should also be looking to partner with TAFE and universities, and including relevant information at career expos."

The report can be found here.

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