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Blog by Jo Field, Founder & Managing Director

What happens when we combine public affairs with the need to improve gender diversity in the transport industry? This is something I’m passionate about bringing to the sector, and here’s why……

Public affairs

Public affairs is a force for good in society because it connects people and policymakers. As a public affairs professional, I 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 less than one-quarter of UK transport jobs.

Bringing public affairs and gender diversity together – a unique blend

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.  

An important achievement was when I worked with Women in Transport and parliamentarians from across the political spectrum to set up the first ever All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Women in Transport.  The cross-party group is discussing and overcoming the under-representation of women in transport, and sharpening political focus on this important issue.

My efforts to improve gender diversity were recognised when I was named everywoman in Transport and Logistics Industry Champion in 2016. This was the catalyst that inspired me to set up JFG Comms.

Now, having set up a boutique consultancy, I can provide something unique to transport organisations. By combining our stakeholder engagement and gender diversity expertise, we help transport organisations achieve a more diverse team.

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

Improving public awareness of the important work the transport industry does and the range of exciting careers on offer is vital. This showcases transport careers to a wider audience and attracts and inspires future generations. 

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. We work with all our customers and partners to achieve this.

It’s over two 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 two 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.