People are always talking about the low number of women in the trucking industry and when you ask a lot of women, it’s a culture thing, which is stopping their participation. Most women do not want to be part of a boys club.
Another factor which is often missed in these discussions is the age profile of many trucking operations. We can assume that for a very large number of fleets around the country, the average age is up in the fifties, and often in the late fifties.
Let’s assume these people (mainly men) started in trucking at a young age soon after leaving school. This means they became involved with the trucking industry around 1980. This was a time when the attitude in general society about women and their roles was dramatically different from what it is today.
This cohort of men are still in the industry and are the senior truck drivers, operations personnel and performing other tasks around operations. The pervading culture of the time at which they began their career was that of trucking being a boys club. Most women working in trucking back then had to act like a man to survive.
So, for a large section of the trucking industry workforce, a boys club atmosphere is what they joined and what they have become used to. It is not that they are working hard to retain a blokey culture, it’s more like a carry over from the way it has always been for them.
Times have changed in the modern world, women can be more assertive and in the more enlightened workplaces there is a good deal of equality between the sexes. Those which do well on this score also tend to get a positive culture and contented workforce.
Change is going to come in many workplaces around Australia, including trucking operations, big and small. Margins are tight, good dependable employees are in short supply and it is impossible to ignore 50 per cent of the population as potential workers. Trucking desperately needs as much of the young talent pool as it can get.
Transformation is not going to come along fast, but we cannot wait for the generational change to take place as those who came into a boys club retire. This is where initiatives like those around International Women’s Day last week brought the topic into full view. We just need more of this kind of awareness-building to be consistently pushed by all of the influencers in trucking.
Those who were brought up in this boys club atmosphere might become a little uncomfortable when a few females are added into the workforce mix, but they would be a darn sight more uncomfortable if the business failed due to an inability to get the right quality staff.