Will 'She's RHA' woo women into the transport industry

May 30 | 2016

The Mover, March 2016, page 8.

Nikki French
Grace Removals Group, Sydney

What a great topic of debate you have opened up with this article. I think it’s a subject which confronts our industry and for which there is no easy answer. The RHA can see the need to entice more women to the industry for all the reasons explained in your article. It is without doubt that a more even gender balance would facilitate a great deal of benefits to our industry and many women could find a fulfilling and rewarding career. The trouble is how to do that without seeming patronising. And perhaps we ladies currently in the industry should also be prepared to accept a little more patronising for the future good of the industry.

I recently watched the movie Suffragette and what those women who took up the cause had to endure for the benefit of us all now was phenomenal; I admit to shedding a few tears. As the decades of my life march on I find it quite incredible that it is less than 10 decades since those women faced that struggle. And in some part of the world today they have not crossed off the basics of what most of the globe would consider to be equality. I was at an event for women at one of the industry conventions a couple of years ago and the theme of the speech was the empowerment of women in the industry. A cold shiver ran down my spine and I have never been back. Whilst I am a supporter of networking and mentoring amongst women I think it’s very important to focus on the message being shared. If we want to have more women in the industry then we need to engage the men and there is nothing more likely to switch off a bunch of blokes than a discussion on the empowerment of women.

If the RHA can harness the content so that it gains case studies and cold hard facts on why having a gender balance delivers better profits and better quality outcomes for business and then promote that to the industry then I think it will have an impact. What they need to do in tandem is to promote to a female audience why working in the transport industry is a rewarding career choice. Fundamentally, unless the female pool of applicants increases then progress will be stopped in its tracks. Maybe we can learn something from other industries such as engineering. I think you should also take heart to know that progress has happened without even realising it. As it’s not polite to reveal a lady’s age I just say that I have 20 plus years in the industry and have often walked a lonely path as a female manager. But there are far more females attending industry conventions than there ever were and my female colleagues are a strong influence who are well respected. FIDI now has two female board members which means it is only a matter of time before it has a female president. You can bet your life that FIDI board meetings have changed substantially in the last couple of years. I'm off to the inaugural Women in Logistics meeting in Sydney next week which has sold out 2 weeks before the event so clearly it’s of interest. I'll let you know how I go. 


I enjoyed reading your article in The Mover (March 2016) about the 'She’s RHA' initiative. 

My first reaction to the initiative was quite negative. I’ve never liked the “this group of people needs help because they are weak” approach to equality or employment balance, because it is usually based on a false premise which makes it rather insulting. 

In my opinion, creating groups based on gender within any industry is more akin to separatism than promoting equality. It also shows subtle sexism by those creating the groups. 

I don’t know enough about the transport industry as a whole, but the removals industry would benefit from more female operatives. That isn’t to say it needs more women in the industry, because that implies it’s suffering because of a lack thereof. It’s about improvement, not repair. 

Setting up groups within an industry probably does little or nothing to address the real reason why there is gender imbalance, particularly in removals. If a removals business has 20 male applicants and zero female applicants, how many women are they going to take on? 

More than any women’s group, Emma Lanman and Van Girls could probably attract women to the removals industry, simply by being role models. Perhaps they could be convinced to front a recruitment campaign, if the industry ever needs one.  

Editor’s note: 
Thank to the writer of this piece for voicing his opinion.  I was asked not to print his name as he said that it’s impossible to have a moderate view nowadays, on this topic people are always branded as misogynists or feminists and there is nowhere in-between.  If that’s true it’s a very sad reflection on society: but I respect his wish.