Fleet Auto News’s Caroline Falls talks with Lauren Bourke, national transport manager at the Sydney offices of global recruiting firm Randstad. Bourke’s role is to find candidates to fill roles in transport companies, from drivers to managers. Randstad operates in some 39 countries, and is a major player in Australia. Bourke talks about a Randstad report Women in Transport, which investigates the presence of women in the sector and highlights the glaring absence of them, all at a time when transport companies are clamouring to fill roles.
Let’s look at some of the major findings from the report: firstly it highlights the incredible growth the transport industry is facing? Freight for example is expected to increase by 80 percent within the next decade. It does create an opportunity for women to become more involved. Tell us about the opportunities you see and how they can be grasped?
I think it’s become a fairly standard conversation within the industry; that we are facing somewhat of a driver deficit, and we are pretty fast moving toward a reality where we won’t have the necessary skills within the candidate market to meet the forecasted growth within the sector. The info in the report aims to show how increasing female participation in the workforce could potentially close that gap. I guess the report is designed to highlight the talent market that hasn’t been capitalised as yet in the transport sector. And also to highlight how increasing female representation can lead to improved business outcomes.
Another startling statistic in the report is the one showing the gender makeup of the industry, with women making up 17 percent of transport roles. Does this figure include human resources managers in the transport industry, and other affiliated roles such as company finance management, as well as drivers? Women’s share is going to change isn’t it?
Sadly that number is a representation of all roles within the transport sector and females are not very well represented at all particularly in management levels. They only make up around 4.5 percent of CEOs in businesses and overall 16.9 percent of transport roles. We are hoping that women’s share is going to change. A lot of organisations are onboard with this movement, and are open to how they can implement a more gender diverse workforce. The transport sector needs to strive to attract more females and talent within all levels of the business, whether it be boots on the ground or management.
Are employers actively looking for women to recruit in their transport operations?
We are currently partnered with several groups including Linfox. They are actively looking to increase their representation of females within the organisation. That’s for a number of reasons. We’ve found that companies that have a 30 percent representation of women in leadership groups are 15 percent more profitable. We’ve also found feedback on increased safety, less incidences, less damage to vehicles. We are currently partnered with a national transport group; they have a couple of management positions that would suit the female recruiting market and that organisation has openly said that any female talent with good management experience in like the retail sector would have transferable skills to offer the transport organisation.
Tell us your personal story of becoming involved with the transport sector?
I actually unintentionally landed in the transport industry. I was pursuing a role in the logistics sector. My perception about the transport industry turned out to be completely wrong and my own perceptions are probably still in line with the image problem we face today. I have met some wonderful people who are dedicated and intelligent and have made a massive impact.
From your perspective how should a woman who wants to join this exciting and essential industry approach moving into the transport sector?
I’d encourage any women who are considering working in the transport industry to go for it.