Industry diversity push beats International Women's Day path


Driving Change Diversity Program looks to transition to another year

Industry diversity push beats International Women's Day path
The Diversity Program Workshop participants in Cairns

 

A range of companies and organisations have linked to give heft to International Women’s Day and diversity initiatives.

Teletrac Navman and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) were in Cairns recently to give impetus to the Driving Change Diversity Program is an industry-first, bringing together participants from diverse backgrounds across Australia.

"While the Australian trucking industry is well-known for its diverse types of businesses and career opportunities, this diversity is not reflected in workplace demographics," ATA chair David Smith says. 

"The trucking industry plays a crucial role in the lives of all Australians. This program is our way of driving change within industry and ensuring it is an inclusive and welcoming environment for people from all backgrounds."

Nominated by ATA member associations and Teletrac Navman, program participants have completed an intensive two-day workshop to become diversity champions led by Wisdom Learning CEO Rod Hattch.

"Our sessions this week focused on how to overcome barriers to diversity in the workplace, how to influence and change unconscious bias, and how to lead change in the workplace and the wider trucking industry,"  Hattch says. 

"It was about coming together to share our connections, start the conversation and discover how we can drive change."  

Also joining participants was program ambassador and diversity champion Wayne Herbert, who said there is no doubt that building a strong, diverse and inclusive industry is key to responding effectively to the complex and changing needs of the industry into the future.

"Just as the Australian trucking industry drives our great nation, the ATA and Teletrac Navman Driving Change Diversity Program is set to drive lasting change," Herbert says. 

"There is no doubt that we all benefit from diversity and inclusion – that’s why I am proud to be associated with the program.

"My story is one of many that I hope challenges, captivates, entertains, and ignites the change that is possible when organisations and industry invest in diversity and inclusion."

Smith said the overwhelming support for the program from industry and ATA members shows how committed the industry is to celebrating and embracing diversity. 

"Diversity and inclusion play a significant role in creating positive workplaces and is proven to develop more inclusive environments, increase productivity and give employers access to a greater range of talent," Smith says.  

Teletrac Navman director of marketing Megan Duncan sees the outcomes of the 2020 program and those in the future as having have a profound effect on the trucking industry and wider community. 

"It has been fantastic to see the response to the program since its launch, even beyond the transport industry. We have been so thrilled to welcome the interesting mix of program participants, who really cover a broad spectrum of diverse backgrounds and roles in the transport industry," Duncan says. 

"The outcomes of this program are truly exciting, and we cannot wait to drive change within our industry and beyond."

In a document explaining the crucial nature of the task, Teletrac Navman provides the following examination.

HOW TO BE A CATALYST FOR CHANGE

Demand for trucking is steadily rising, with the domestic land freight task projected to grow 80 per cent between 2011 and 2031. More than half of all employers report difficulties finding drivers to fulfil the work they need done.

This is a prime opportunity for expansion of the industry to meet demand, a chance to bring in new faces and fresh talent. Unfortunately, things aren’t changing. Data shows that female representation has actually declined in the construction, transport, postal and warehousing industries over the last decade, with women accounting for just 20.9 per cent of the workforce, and a tiny three per cent of drivers.

It’s a problem that extends all the way to the top. More than a third of all Australian transport businesses have zero women in management positions.

There’s no better time to reflect on the opportunity of diversity than International Women’s Day. We spoke to our 2020 ATA Diversity Program participants about why achieving a more diverse and inclusive industry is so important, and why it’s something we need to address now.

Innovation and inclusion

The reasons for aspiring to a diverse workforce are plenty. First and foremost, it’s important to even the playing field so all Australians have the same chance at success in the workplace.

In a male-dominated field, women bring a fresh perspective, new ideas and a unique experience to inform decision-making. It’s also a chance to improve your customer service. After all, many of your customers are women – shouldn’t your staff reflect that?

If you’re concerned about your bottom line, diversity offers a significant boost there too. Research proves that increasing the representation of women across key leadership roles – CEOs, board members and the senior leadership team – delivers added company market value of between $52 million and $70 milliion per year for an average sized organisation.

For Tanya De Landelles, support group manager at Russell Transport, the biggest business benefit of diversity is innovation.

"Having a more diverse mix of people in trucking means we can move the industry forward," De Landelles says.

Lisa Dolan, HR Advisor at Formula Chemicals, says the chance to gain new skills and meet customer demand is exciting.

"It’ll open up more avenues," Dolan says.

"There’s a massive skillset out there that will add great value to businesses."

Rob Smedley, director of Smedley’s Engineers, agrees.

"Achieving diversity means we allow for other people to come into the industry with a different perspective," Smedley says.

"They might excel in areas that the transport industry doesn’t currently excel at."

He believes it is important to avoid getting stuck in the cycle of hiring the same people for the roles.

"I know that if there were more people exactly like me in my business, the business wouldn’t be as capable as it is today because more of me isn’t what my business needs – and it isn’t what my customers need," Smedley says.

Addressing the current gender gap isn’t a simple task. But after undertaking the recent ATA Driving Change program training, all our participants felt confident that there were steps they could take today to improve the future of transport.

"Diversity is a complex issue with many layers," Dolan says.

"But we all have the ability to make a difference. I feel motivated to see where we will be in 12 months from now."

For Chantelle Gillier, project coordinator at Johnstons Transport, her biggest realisation was about the role she plays in creating change, simply by starting the conversation.

"Let’s start having some real conversations," Gillier says.

"Let’s start being a bit more considerate, open our eyes a little bit more, think outside the box and help each other."

For Smedley, it’s less about talking and more about listening.

"One of the learnings I had was to allow other people to speak more, to step back and not listen to the biases that I have but be open to what other people have to share," he says

The other insight from our 2020 participants is the power of the industry coming together. Increasing diversity isn’t something that one person drives, it has to be achieved by a collective push for change.

Divall's Earthmoving & Bulk Haulage transport manager Troy Cook believes we can all make a difference this way.

 "We can change our business, we can change some of the views within our business, but we can’t do it all on our own," Cook says

"There’s strength in numbers."

A new era of transport

The conversations we’re starting about diversity need to focus on structural changes to cement a more inclusive workforce for the future.

Looking at recruitment and hiring practices is one critical step – we’re all blinkered by our own biases and likely to hire people who are similar to us.

It’s also critical for businesses to assess their work-life balance, company policies and company culture. Women are looking for companies that offer a good work-life balance (58 per cent) and a pleasant working atmosphere (44 per cent).

Providing flexible hours and reviewing unreasonable workloads is important to do for all your staff. But it’s especially important to attract more women into the industry. The reality is, women in Australia spend 64.4 per cent of their average working hours each week on unpaid work (including caring for children and other family members) compared to 36.1 per cent for men. This makes long hours on the road untenable for many women and it’s more likely they’ll be looking for flexible or part-time hours.

Offering a strong work-life balance will help all your employees, male and female, to achieve parity when it comes to work and home responsibilities.

Making change happen

Of course, International Women’s Day isn’t just about reflecting on these important issues. It’s also a time to celebrate the women already achieving amazing things within the industry. 

The talented participants of the 2020 Diversity Program are kicking goals in different ways across the industry. From addressing discrimination and mentoring younger workers to supporting mental health initiatives, these women – and men – are passionate about taking transport into the future by making it a more inclusive and innovative industry. You can read all about them here.

Their achievements prove not only that women absolutely deserve a seat at the table (and behind the wheel), but that businesses will benefit hugely from giving them the opportunity to get there. 

Nominations are now open for the 2021 Driving Change Diversity Program, which will see participants learn how to create change and facilitate diversity in their workplace and community, share personal insights into the development a marketing campaign that highlights diversity within industry and develop a strong professional network with like-minded individuals.  

The link can be found here.

 

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