Passengers waiting on a platform as a high speed train pulls into station

Low female representation

A growing body of research finds that the more diverse and inclusive an organisation, the better positioned it is to attract, retain, engage and advance talent, and the more productive, creative, and, ultimately, profitable, it is likely be. This is of huge importance to the traditionally male-dominated transport sector as it faces a future in which constant innovation is crucial to on-going success.


  • Nearly 1.5million people work in transport and logistics in the UK. Source  But the latest figures (2016) show just one-fifth of UK transport workers are women. This is a slight decline on the 2015 figure of 22%. Source
  • Across Europe, the figures are similar. Only 22% of those employed in the transport sector are women. Source 
  • The majority of these women are in low paid positions. In the UK’s rail sector, just 0.6% of women employees progress to director or executive level. Source
  • The gender balance of the rail sector, however, is steadily improving. In the four years to 2017, the percentage of women employed in rail jobs increased from 8% to 11%. And the percentage of women in rail engineering roles doubled to 8%. Source
  • The latest report from the Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Taskforce shows female representation in transport apprenticeships is increasing (15.4 per cent of engineering and technical apprentice starts are female, up from 10 per cent in 2016/17). Source
  • At Network Rail, an apprentice scheme has been introduced to help meet the organisation’s target of 20% women across its organisation by 2020. Of its 35,000 workforce of managers and engineers, currently only 16% are women. Source
  • Network Rail will also double the number of apprenticeships it offers over the next year, and introduce new apprenticeships in cyber security and digital railway. Source
  • In 2015/16, women made up 23% of Transport for London’s workforce and 25.3% of senior management positions. Source By way of comparison, 60% of the UK's retail sector workforce is female, but only 12.5% of its FTSE leaders are women. Source And in the male-dominated technology sector, only 17% of the entire workforce is female. Source 
  • The Department for Transport’s (DfT’s) Infrastructure Skills Strategy sets out how 30,000 apprenticeships will be created in the road and rail sector by 2020. Procurement will be used to guarantee the creation of rolesThe Strategy sets an ambition for at least 20% of new engineering and technical apprentices to be women by 2020. It aims to achieve parity with the working population by 2030 at the latest. Source

Construction and Engineering

  • Similarly, women are severely under-represented in the construction and engineering workforces. Women make up just 12% of the construction sector workforce (source: ONS, 2018) and hold only 13% of executive roles in the sector Source
  • Research from the GMB union estimates it will take almost 200 years to achieve gender equality in the construction industry. Source
  • Only 12% of the UK engineering sector workforce is made up women—the lowest proportion in Europe. Source 

Gender Diversity and Pay Gap

  • Closing the UK’s gender gap could add an additional £23 billion to the treasury. Source
  • Increasing female employment and productivity to the levels of men is estimated to be worth 35% of GDP. Source
  • The WomenCount2020 report has found London-listed companies are more profitable when women make up more than one third of executive roles. Source
  • A 2014 study by MIT found that when teams are split evenly along gender lines, this could increase revenue by roughly 41%. Source
  • McKinsey (2017) research shows companies with the highest levels of ethnic diversity are likely to outperform their peers by 33%. And companies with the highest levels of gender diversity are likely to outperform their competitors by 21% Source
  • Government regulations launched in 2017 require all businesses employing at least 250 staff to publish set data on their gender pay gaps. The move has been hailed as an important step in eliminating the UK economy’s 18.1% gender pay gap. Source
  • Increasing the number of women on boards and in the leadership pipeline continues to be an important issue. The Government-backed Davies report recommends women should hold 33% of board seats at FTSE 350 companies by 2020. Source
  • The Hampton-Alexander review builds on this. It recommends 33% of Executive Committee roles (and their direct reports) be held by women by the end of the decade. Source
  • A Centre for Economics and Business Research study shows a 'work from anywhere' culture could add an extra £11.5bn a year to the UK economy. The research shows British employees could save £3.8bn and 533 million hours a year in commuting time if they adopted flexible working. Source
  • The Women's Business Council has produced a helpful guide outlining #100WaystoWorkFlexibly. The guide features case studies of over 100 men and women of different ages and job roles who are working flexibly. Case studies include: flexi-time, staggered hours, compressed hours, term-time working, remote working and much more.


Cranes silhouetted against an evening sky

Skills shortage in transport and infrastructure

The transport industry contributes over £90 billion a year to the UK economy. But a wealth of reports warn the industry must undergo a radical overhaul to remain competitive in the face of disruptive forces, such as Brexit, globalisation and technological innovation. 

  • Government predicts the transport infrastructure skills shortfall will be 55,000 workers by 2020. Source But not all companies in the sector accept there is a skills shortage.
  • The consequences of the skills shortfall on the delivery of projects could include: higher project costs, delays to projects, damage to UK economy and global competitiveness, impact on delivery quality and reliance on overseas skills to plug the gap. Source
  • Britain's departure from the European Union will make it harder to fill the transport infrastructure skills shortage. EU migrants make up around one-tenth of the construction industry workforce (rising to almost one-third in London). A new report warns boosting training of UK nationals is unlikely to be enough to meet the shortfall. Source
  • Over 1.2million extra transport, logistics and infrastructure jobs are required by 2022. Young people, educated in STEM subjects, have been highlighted as a key source of much-needed technology skills. Yet currently, only 9% of the sector is aged under 25. Source
  • Transportation and logistics executives need to make improving the sector’s image a top priority – and the commitment should come straight from the top. A lack of training programmes, and a failure to get the message through to graduates that the sector is one in which can you have a long, varied and high-paid career, are some of the factors behind the image problem. Source
  • The Transport Infrastructure Skills strategy recognises the need to change how a career in transport is perceived. And that the industry needs to encourage more people into transport careers to meet the challenges of technology and deliver the pipeline of transport infrastructure projects. Source


Highway road lit up at night

Stakeholder engagement

As the transport and infrastructure sectors undergo unprecedented change, organisations are asking themselves how they can better communicate with customers, engage their stakeholders and use their positions of influence to inform policy.

  • More than 20% of non-food retail spending in the UK occurs online. While this creates many opportunities for the transport and logistics sector, it also creates challenges, such as how businesses can best meet customer demand through innovative technology. Source
  • Social media savvy consumers are increasingly demanding round the clock customer service from the transport and logistics sector. And 89% of those who complain to an organisation via its Twitter channel, typically say that speed is the most important factor in their ultimate satisfaction with the brand—something that has huge implications for public-serving transport organisations such as train companies and retailers who rely on a network of delivery firms. Source
  • Stakeholder engagement and advocacy are essential principles for transport infrastructure projects. Building advocacy through reaching out to disabled groups and local communities, for example, can make all the difference to successful project delivery.  Source
  • Strong inter-industry and public relations are becoming more and more essential as transport projects increase in size, ambition and scope. Projects, for example, like London's Crossrail, which...

    • It is estimated will create 75,000 opportunities for British businesses and is unlocking housing and development to support regeneration across London, adding an estimated £42 billion to the UK economy. Source
    • Is supporting the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs across the UK. Source
    • By March 2017, had created over 650 apprenticeships. Source
    • Has a workforce made up of almost one third women, which is greater than the industry average. Source

    Each of these pillars requires carefully planned communication and engagement strategies. 

JFG Communications specialises in working with transport and infrastructure organisations to develop innovative strategies and campaigns to help them inform, consult and engage their stakeholders. We help companies develop and influence policy, build stakeholder support, partnerships and advocacy, and protect reputations. We provide specialist stakeholder engagement training to boost your team's skills. We advise businesses on how they can create gender diversity and inclusivity policies and communications to increase female representation at all levels. To learn more about how JFG Comms can help your organisation with any of the above transport and infrastructure issues, check out our work or get in touch