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Revisiting the workforce in the Transport and Logistics sector: how to achieve gender equality?

Date:
By  Test Welsh

 

Revisiting the workforce in the Transport and Logistics sector: how to achieve gender equality?

By Dr Aida Ghalebeigi, RMIT Lecturer and Program Director, Master of Supply Chain & Logistics Management (Online).

 

It is time that the transport and logistics sector prioritise workplace gender equality to provide equal experiences and opportunities for women. The sector fails across all gender equality indicators.

First of all, participation levels are very low for women. According to data from the Federal Government, there is 21.7% representation of women in the transport and logistics industry, compared to 78.3% for males.[1] When drill down a little bit further into that, it is notable that around 41% of the women who are in the sector are employed in administration and clerical jobs[2]. Secondly, women participation in managerial roles are very low. Just 9% of female workers employed in the sector are in key management positions, which are considered the feeder positions to general manager and CEO positions in Australia.  

At last, women in this industry suffer a higher wage gap compared to the national gender pay gap. On average every woman working in T&L earns 18% less than their male counterparts while the national pay gap is 14%. Women’s average weekly earnings, as of May 2021, were $1487 compared to $1754 for men (ABS seasonally adjusted data).[3] 

To remove these barriers to female workforce participation and career progression in logistics and transport, it is important as a first measure to remove unconscious bias in the recruitment process. Employers need to make sure they are removing that unconscious bias when hiring staff by, for example, having a diverse recruitment panel in place to remove any bias favouring men as employees. Employers also must be conscious of providing an inclusive and conducive workplace aiming at eliminating the stereotypes and ‘boys clubs’ embedded in the workplace culture.

There needs to be a shift by many employers to offer part-time positions to females and job sharing. Whether an industry or occupation is seen to be flexible and have a family friendly culture is a driving factor for many women when making decisions about paid work, especially those returning to paid work after caring for children. Women spend 64 per cent of their average weekly working time on unpaid care work compared to 36 per cent for men.[4] Offering part-time and flexible employment can help draw and retain women in the transport and logistics workforce. More training opportunities and support such as mentoring programs should also be offered to female workers so they can advance their careers.

It is also crucial to diminish the gender wage gap and employers uphold the ‘equal work, equal pay’ principal. Women deserve equal pay for equal work. When employers pay less to women than men, they are sending the signal that women are less valuable in the workplace than men. This needs to be corrected.

Wage audits are important to ensure that women are paid the same amount as men to do the same job.  The obligation is also on employers to conduct such audits; under the Federal law, the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, large employers (non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees in their corporate structure) have to report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) annually on a set of gender equality indicators. Only 48% of employers in the sector conduct a remuneration gap analysis[5].

Employers with over 500 employees must also meet certain minimum standards, including having a policy or strategy in certain areas, to support gender equality. It’s also unlawful under the Fair Work Act to discriminate on the basis of sex. Various state, territory and federal anti-discrimination laws also make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the grounds of gender regarding renumeration.

Many Australian businesses have already taken substantive steps to reduce barriers to women’s participation and increase the number of female employees, including into non-traditional roles in transport like truck driving. And, substantive resources have been made available for the employers and employees to promote flexible working arrangements. The Fair Work Ombudsman, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Centre for Workplace Leadership and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency provide useful and practical information and tools.

 

Women’s participation in the transport and logistics sector has remained low for many decades. However, I am hopeful that we can make more solid progress on eliminating the gender inequalities in this sector within the next decade.

 

For a full discussion of Gender Equality in the Transport and Logistic Industry, please view this RMIT webinar.

 

About Dr Aida Ghalebeigi

Dr. Aida Ghalebeigi is the Program Director for RMIT’s Master of Supply Chain and Logistics Management. Aida has established and leads the Gender Matters Research Theme at the Global Transport and Logistics Research Group. She has extensive experience in undertaking industry-related research with a core focus on gender equality in the workplace. Most of her work in this area has focused on the Transport and Logistics sector, which is historically characterised by male dominance. She maintains strong industry engagement and has been invited to present her research at several forums, including industry webinars, seminars and workshops. 

 

[2] https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/latest-release

[4] https://womensworkforceparticipation.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/towards-2025-strategy.pdf

[5] https://data.wgea.gov.au/industries/58#employer_action_content