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International Women's Day image of women around the world

Today is International Women's Day and this year’s theme is #PressforProgress.

The World Economic Forum says it will take 217 years before women earn as much as men and are equally represented in the workplace. Last year's estimate was 170 years, so the workplace gender gap is growing.

On this year’s International Women's Day, we need to challenge stereotypes and bias, and press for progress on gender parity. Two hundred years is too long to wait for gender equality!

Achieving gender balance in the transport workforce

The business benefits of achieving gender parity in the workplace are clear. Firms with the highest levels of gender and ethnic diversity outperform their competitors. This means industries where women are under-represented have much to gain from a gender-balanced team.

EU data shows less than one-quarter of UK transport workers are women. The industry is taking steps to address under-representation. But we need to do more to inspire current and future generations of women to consider transport careers. We need to do more to tell young people about the wide range of exciting jobs available in the transport sector. 

The infrastructure skills shortage, predicted by Government to be 55,000 workers by 2020, is also a big issue. Increasing the number of women in the transport workforce, particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) roles will help address the gap. But unless we widen the talent pool to include more women, there will not be enough people with the right skills to deliver the pipeline of transport infrastructure projects.

Improving public engagement on transport projects will help raise awareness of the industry to a wider talent pool. Inspiring and engaging a wider audience on transport infrastructure schemes means we will encourage future generations to consider transport careers.

Five actions we can take to press for progress on women in transport

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

Here are five steps we can take ourselves, or press our employers to take, on International Women’s Day and beyond. Taking these steps will drive forward change, press for progress on gender equality and help attract and retain women at all levels:

  1. Put responsibility for diversity and inclusion squarely in the hands of directors and make them accountable for it.
  2. Insist on diverse shortlists. Send candidate lists back to recruiters if they contain no visible diversity.
  3. Establish diverse interview panels. Recruitment panels that lack diversity are more likely to make recruitment decisions that favour ‘people like them’, thereby disadvantaging under-represented groups.
  4. Use name-blind recruitment, where all personal details are removed from the recruitment process.
  5. Profile women at all levels of the workforce. This gives young women visible role models to inspire them.

By taking these steps we can all make a difference and help the transport industry to press for progress and improve gender balance.