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From today, gender pay gap reporting becomes mandatory for companies with more than 250 staff.

We welcome the introduction of reporting as it signals the government’s commitment to achieving gender equality in the UK. It is also hugely important for inspiring young women to reach their potential.

For as long as there’s a gender pay gap, we’re sending a clear message to young women. No matter what their educational achievements and aspirations, they will, on average, earn less than men  during the course of their careers. They are likely to end up paying a motherhood penalty.

According to the Fawcett Society, the current overall Gender Pay Gap for full-time workers is 13.9%.

The organisation says the gap is caused by a mix of factors, including: discrimination; the under-valuing of jobs predominantly done by women; men continuing to hold the best-paid, most senior jobs; and women having more caring responsibilities for children and older relatives.

Breaking down gender stereotypes to close the gap

But introducing compulsory reporting doesn’t tackle the root of the problem. Breaking down gender stereotypes and improving women’s representation in sectors that lack gender diversity is key to closing the pay gap.

Women are under-represented in the transport sector, holding just 22% of UK transport jobs. Many transport roles are STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) based. These roles require specific technical skills, which means the jobs are better paid. But not all transport roles involve STEM.  There are a wide range of exciting careers in the industry. Almost any job you can think of, can be done in the transport sector.

But transport has an image problem in terms of how young people see it. We believe this is caused by gender stereotyping: the idea that certain subjects, jobs and careers in transport are ‘not for girls’.

This has to improve and the gender pay gap has to be closed. But how? We know children form gender stereotypes at an early age. We need visible role models to inspire young people and show young women (and young men) that transport roles are open and available to all. Children form their views based on what they see in the world around them. If they don’t see women building railways or driving vans, they won’t believe these jobs are for women.

We all have to do what we can to break down gender stereotypes and make a difference for young people.  We each have a responsibility to work towards equality and fairness in any way we can.

Five things employers can do to inspire young women, improve workforce diversity and close the gap

Many businesses in the transport industry want to achieve a more diverse workforce, but don’t know where to start.

Here are our five top tips to help employers improve workforce diversity and attract and retain women at all levels:

  1. Profile women doing all jobs at all levels in the company. This will provide young people with visible role models and inspire them to consider careers in the sector.
  2. Set up peer mentoring and support schemes for parents. Produce guides to help staff manage pregnancy, maternity, paternity and shared parental leave. This will help people deal with the massive change in their lives when they become parents. It will help women return to work after maternity leave. 
  3. Actively encourage flexible and agile working for all staff. This should be led from the top. Senior leaders, especially male senior leaders, should be seen to work flexibly.
  4. Be aware of unconscious bias and the impact it can have. An example would be assuming a woman who has just returned from maternity leave won’t have the time to take on a challenging new project or wish to step-up to cover a more senior role.
  5. Establish diverse interview panels. Recruitment panels that lack diversity are more likely to make recruitment decisions that favour ‘people like them’. This disadvantages under-represented groups.