Women in the Road Transport and Logistics Industry
23rd March 2022
Within the road transport and logistics industry women are heavily underrepresented. They make up only 20% of transport sector staff in general and 1% – 3% of HGV drivers. This is thought to be one of the biggest gender imbalances in UK business. It would seem that women are an untapped talent source and possibly addressing this imbalance could actually go some way to solving the driver shortage as well.
In order to even out the gender gap in the industry it’s important to identify why women are not attracted in the first place.
Reasons women aren’t attracted to the job
It can be difficult identifying precisely why a particular demographic are not attracted to an industry, but studies have shown there are a few common denominators.
Family Commitments – Statistically in the UK, the primary care givers for children within a family are women, and this is not compatible with 15-hour shifts and nights away from home.
Aging workforce – According to the Road Haulage Association, the average age of road haulage drivers is 57, meaning many are nearing retirement which is not a particularly attractive prospect for women or younger drivers.
Male dominated industry – With an 80% male workforce, women fear they will be treated differently because of their gender.
Poor working conditions – Basic facilities like clean toilets and showers are often not available to drivers, and whilst this should be a concern for both male and female drivers, women find this more of a barrier when entering into an industry than men do.
Safety – Many lorry parks where drivers stop overnight are badly lit, in lonely locations and are not very safe which could be an extra concern for women coming into the industry.
How to attract more women
If the industry wants to reduce the driver shortage in general, they could make some changes which not only could attract more women to the industry but could make the environment more appealing to younger drivers – both male and female. It doesn’t mean painting the fleet bubblegum pink and having cute uniforms – although a company in Australia has done that – it just means making the working conditions more appealing.
Inclusive environment – Changing the perceived or actual workplace culture as being predominantly male where women won’t be welcome, needs to be done early. Girls in school are actively discouraged from entering the industry because of this perceived culture. The road haulage and logistics industry needs to be presented as a great opportunity for women from an early age. Additionally, the 20% of women already in the industry should be offered opportunities to grow and develop.
Flexible hours – By introducing flexible working, flexible hours, job shares and planning shifts in advance could make the role more attractive to women or men with families or younger drivers.
Marketing – Change the narrative for HGV drivers. Be done with the Yorkie strapline of “It’s not for girls,” to showing an inclusive working environment, with easy-to-handle trucks with power steering and automatic gearboxes. It’s no longer a requirement to be physically strong to drive an HGV. Highlight the strengths of the women within the organisation on social media to show the world that it’s not a male only environment.
Female only training – Whilst segregated training could seem counterproductive to an inclusive work environment, it could be a means of introducing women to an industry where they are grossly underrepresented.
On the job training – For roles other than HGV driving it could be an opportunity to offer on-the-job training to encourage more women into the industry who may not have had similar experience before.
No solution is going to solve the talent shortage overnight but changes today can make for a better work environment tomorrow. And in 2022, there is no physical reason why women shouldn’t make up 49% of the road haulage and logistics workforce as they do on average across the rest of UK industries.
For help with your driver requirements speak to the team at Transport Exchange Group today.