The Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) celebrated International Women’s Day with a ‘Women in Road Transport’ Breakfast last week to a packed house.
The breakfast highlighted there is a massive distance to travel before gender equality is reached in the transport industry however it gave an inspirational view of what is happening to get women into transport and how it positively benefits the industry.
Event Facilitator Louise Perram-Fisk, Managing Director, Emberin, a company specialising in diversification in the workplace, said the QTA should be congratulated on celebrating the achievements of women.
“Big congratulations to the Queensland Trucking Association for being the only industry association celebrating the achievements of women, we might be a smaller number [in the industry] but we’re certainly making our mark and I am delighted to be here today,” she said.
Key panellists for the 2013 event included Kevin Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, Transpacific Industries, QTA Women of the Year Tracie Dickenson, from Daryl Dickenson Transport, Paul Kahlert, General Manager, All Purpose Transport and Nicole Holyer, HR Advisor, DP World.
“We have taken some advice from females and we have created a diversity council through our executive and they are all volunteers, and they are grabbing it with both arms and we are driving the gender agenda across the group,” he explained.
He admitted requirements of the ASX as a publically listed company requires gender diversity however he stressed the mindset of the business is going well beyond the ASX directive and the push is on to get the benefits of women in all areas of the business.
“Personally and from a business point of view having two daughters one a lawyer and one in the rag trade I have always pushed and encouraged them to do their very best and take any opportunity that is presented to them and to run like hell to make the most of it,” he said.
“From the business perspective I keep seeing these articles coming up about our competitor JJ Richards with this program Women Take The Wheel, what a great idea.
“And I am going to get shot for this but as far as I am concerned women are better drivers than men because they take better care of their vehicles.
“And if they weren’t better drivers and didn’t take care of the vehicles why on earth would the big companies like Rio Tinto put them in the multi-million dollar monsters that they put their ore in, so if it’s good enough for them it’s good for my company,” he explained.
He admitted Transport and Logistics has traditionally been a predominately male industry and the company is trying to turn things around.
Panellist Nicole Holyer’s background in transport started through journalism. She explained she found the industry awe inspiring from the first day on the job as a young journalist seeing the immensity of the port operations in the company of global journalist and Patrick Corporation’s then boss, larger than life, Chris Corrigan.
Ms Holyer explained from her experience the most important thing for getting people into the industry is giving them a fair go. And she said that part of the strategy to make transport appealing is conveying a positive message to people interested in the industry.
She offered practical advice for promoting the Transport and Logistics industry and making it appealing for prospective employees as well as encouraging industry to take advantage of existing programs and funding available.
“I’d say when you having a conversation with someone don’t start off with “it’s a really blokey industry” or “it’s not sexy” start with “it’s a really interesting industry” and “you can travel with it” and “there are lots of opportunities available”,” she recommended.
“It is about how we think about the industry and how we talk about it to ourselves [as an industry] and to the people that might want to join the industry.”
“Because we have this idea, we have this perception that it is a boring negative thing and it’s not really the case, we are really bad sales people,” she said of the industry.
However, she said the industry also has to take responsibility and change its mindset when it comes to hiring women.
“We spoke a lot today about unconscious bias that women wouldn’t want to be in this industry, or couldn’t handle this industry or wouldn’t fit,” she explained.
“You won’t know unless you give somebody a go and again I’d encourage people to employ based on merit.
“Should you choose not to, or forget to, interview women you are really missing out on half of the possible workforce and actually a lot of talent.”
She said there is a lot of assistance out there in industry, particularly in Transport and Logistics, for training programs.
“I would urge any employer to contact the Transport and Logistics Skills Council because they have a lot of funding available right now to give to businesses to up skill their staff,” she said.