Empowering Women in the Transport Industry: a mentor’s perspective
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I would like to take a minute to highlight the amazing work that is done by the not-for-profit group Women in Transport in empowering women to become leaders of the transport industry. Since November 2017, I am delighted to have been involved in their first ever Mentoring Scheme. With a passion for the industry, I really wanted to be part of such an initiative that promises to have a tremendous impact and will vary the way I can hopefully help others to develop and progress in our industry.
International Women’s Day is a day to remind us about how much has been achieved in recognising the equal role that women have in the social, educational and professional world. A hundred years ago, the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed allowing women to vote in the UK. Today, we celebrate how much progress has been made to recognise women’s decisive contribution to the way our companies work and function but there is some way to go. Men are still dominating the boards of companies and in the transport sector alone, 78% of the workforce is male. This is why as a male ally and a supporter of the cause of advancing the visibility and confidence of women in the transport industry, I feel proud to be involved in the activities and events organised by Women in Transport.
The recently established Mentoring Scheme creates a partnership between a mentee, all of whom are members of Women in Transport, and a mentor. To further support the aspirations of the mentees, many of the selected mentors, male and female, occupy managerial positions or above and currently work in or are affiliated with the transport sector. Since the launch of the Mentoring Scheme, I have had three extremely enlightening meetings with my mentee. What I have enjoyed the most from my experience as a mentor is learning about the challenges and rewards of my mentee’s work and hopefully, being able to give some useful advice to support my mentee with her evolution in the workplace.
I have found this a useful experience for me as well as it is personally rewarding to build a mentoring relationship outside my immediate working environment and realise that my experience as a Director at Momentum Transport can benefit women working in other areas of our industry. It is also a learning and development opportunity for me as I have found myself learning about the different types of projects my mentee is involved in and the challenges facing the industry as a whole at different organisational levels.
But what I have realised most of all is the under-representation of the strength in talent and incredible achievements amongst women in transport. I continue to be in awe of the stories I hear and realise how important it is for me as a man to be supporting women in achieving their potential and becoming the professionals they want to be in order to achieve a more balanced presence of women at all levels in the transport industry.
I believe if we continue to address these issues and support such movements and organisations, we will certainly see huge benefits across the industry and the companies within them. Thanks to organisations such as the Women in Transport, we are reminded why days such as International Women’s day should continue to be celebrated.