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Big Ben at Night with Lights

Pairing public affairs and gender diversity in the transport industry - what makes JFG Communications different 

Ahead of the upcoming inaugural meeting of  the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Women in Transport, our Founder and Managing Director, Jo Field, reflects on her role as Secretariat of  the APPG, the past three years at JFG Communications, and her passion to improve gender diversity in the transport industry through public affairs.

The background….

I’ve worked with the transport and infrastructure industries as a communications and public affairs professional for over twelve years. A lack of diversity wasn’t on my radar when I first joined the sector. But, over the years, I’ve realised that while there are some fantastic female role models in transport, there aren’t enough. This realisation sparked me to campaign for improved gender balance in the transport industry. My public affairs expertise has been crucial in driving this work forward to engage, inspire and influence change.  

A game-changer in the campaign was the launch of the first ever cross-party group for Women in Transport in 2016. The inaugural meeting of the group in the new Parliament takes place tomorrow. On behalf of professional networking group, Women in Transport we act as Secretariat to the APPG. I’m proud to have played such a key role in the APPG’s formation, having worked with Women in Transport and parliamentarians from across the political spectrum to set up the group and help sharpen political focus on this important issue. 

I was delighted when my efforts to improve gender diversity and inspire more women and young people to choose transport careers were recognised and I was named everywoman in Transport and Logistics Industry Champion in 2016. This was the catalyst that inspired me to set up JFG Comms later that year.

Over three years into the business, we are providing a unique service to transport organisations. By combining our stakeholder engagement and gender diversity expertise, we help our customers achieve more diverse teams.

There is an important and inseparable link between our two areas of expertise: Improving stakeholder and community engagement on transport projects means we will reach a wider audience and create greater awareness of the industry.

An added 'benefit' of improved public engagement is a better public awareness of the important work the sector does. This highlights transport careers to a wider audience and expands and diversifies the talent pool, attracting and inspiring future generations.

Public affairs

Public affairs is a force for good in society because it connects people and policymakers. As public affairs professionals, we help decision makers hear the voices of the people their decisions will affect to enable better policy making. Public policy that is informed and influenced by local communities is more likely to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

Effective stakeholder engagement is essential to making transport infrastructure projects happen. Early engagement of all stakeholders and enabling them to have a voice at the policy development stage will help a good scheme to become a great one.

I’ve had the privilege of working on many high-profile transport infrastructure projects including Crossrail 1 and HS2. Meaningful engagement and continuous, two-way dialogue is always key to winning stakeholder support.

Gender diversity

Research shows diversity is good for business. A diverse workforce is proven to increase employee engagement, innovation and productivity. This helps organisations attract and retain staff, as well giving them an edge over their competitors.

Despite the business benefits of diversity being clear, women are still under-represented in the transport industry workforce. The latest EU figures show that women occupy only one-fifth of UK transport jobs.

Breaking down gender stereotypes

Research shows gender stereotypes form at a young age. To avoid this, children and young people need to see what they can be. They need to see female role models and the wide range of careers on offer in the industry. By challenging gender stereotypes and reaching out to young people, parents, teachers and beyond, we can send out positive messages to young people that this sector has a range of exciting careers for everyone. You can do almost any job you can think of in the transport industry.

How we’re helping

Inspiring more women and girls to consider careers in the transport industry is at the heart of what I want to achieve with JFG Communications.  Our purpose is to harness the power of public affairs and communications to improve gender diversity in the transport industry and beyond. We work with all our customers and partners to achieve this.

It’s over three years since I set up JFG Comms and we are already making a difference and helping to improve diversity in the transport sector.  

We’re working with a range of high-profile customers and projects to deliver innovative campaigns and advise on stakeholder engagement and communications strategies. We have provided expert stakeholder engagement training and workshops to clients from a wide range of sectors.

We’ve developed toolkits and content to help transport sector customers build more diverse and inclusive teams. We have advised our customers on setting up women’s networks and how best to target their recruitment campaigns. We have also carried out research to help our customers better understand gender issues in their organisations.

We are proud to have achieved recognition for our work and have been shortlisted for several awards during our three years of trading.

There’s still a long way to go before women are equally represented in the transport industry. But, by using public affairs to drive forward the campaign for improved gender balance, we will overcome the gender stereotypes that still exist and encourage more women to join this wonderful industry.