International Women’s Day has been celebrated since 1911 and has become a global day celebrating the achievements of women, as well as raising awareness of and a call to action for improving women’s equality.
Unfortunately, there is very much still a need for this as global gender parity is not likely to be attained for almost a century at the current rates of improvement. Globally, there are still many areas that need improvement, such as closing the gender pay gap, ensuring women are employed in equal numbers in business and politics, improving women’s education and health provisions, and reducing violence against women.
However, there have been great improvements in the right direction. In the UK, only 11% of board members were female in 2011; ten years later women constituted 35% of corporate boards. Whilst these results are promising, there is great variation across different industries; for example, education and health have a much higher proportion of women in the workforce, whilst construction and manufacturing have a much lower proportion of women.
Transport and logistics is one such sector that has traditionally been dominated by men. Globally, only around 2% of workers in logistics are female. In the UK, that percentage is much higher, at around 24%, but this is still significantly lower than the 51% that would reflect the percentage of women in the UK’s population.
Dawsongroup prides itself on being ahead of the times and has always welcomed women into roles across the company. With the number of women in the company higher than the national average at 29%, as well as women comprising 33% of the board, Dawsongroup encourages more women to consider careers in logistics and the supply chain.
Lisa’s role as Operations Manager for Dawsongroup | vans sees her travelling all over the country. She oversees day-to-day operations such as sourcing vehicles, supporting staff at the branches and implementing new processes, as well as customer account management and working with suppliers. She is always ready to help out and support anyone with anything.
With almost eleven years working for Dawsongroup, Lisa has seen many changes, from opening new branches in Newcastle and Birmingham to a significant increase of women in senior positions. When she first joined the transport industry 26 years ago, it was very male-dominated and there were very few women in senior roles. The sector has evolved since then; however, many people don’t know this. She sees vehicle rental as ‘the hidden industry’.
“Young women looking for a direction often don’t know what the industry is about and so they won’t necessarily look here for a position,” Lisa said. “People are often frightened of asking what it entails or what the role is, and this makes recruitment a struggle. It’s a real worry that as existing staff retire, it will be difficult to encourage new recruits to come into the industry.”
Although there have been many changes for the better with regards to female representation, Lisa would still like to see more women throughout the transport industry at all levels.
“We need to continue to encourage the younger versions of ourselves to come into the industry, as well as continuing to encourage progress from within,” Lisa said. “A lot of talented people come to work for us through graduate placements or parttime work, and we need to make sure we nurture them and give them the opportunity to show what they have to offer. We need to keep this going forward to keep the business fresh and young.”
With years of experience in the vehicle rental industry, Vicky has seen how the culture has changed. Whilst she has never felt disadvantaged by being a woman, it was very much a male-oriented industry when she started her career in her early 20s. The industry has changed since then; however, Vicky thinks that Dawsongroup doesn’t feel any different.
“Dawsongroup doesn’t look at roles from a gender point of view, they look at your skillset and what you can bring to the role,” she said. “I’ve always found them to be inclusive of women.”
As Regional Head of Sales for Dawsongroup | vans in the Northwest, Vicky spends her days managing sales and accounts primarily for Manchester and Skelmersdale, supporting new and existing customers, and ensuring both staff and customers are kept up to date with developments in new technology and the transition to electric vehicles. Apart from working in retail management for a year, Vicky has always worked in transport.
“I always want to be in transport because I love the vibe of every day being different, I love sales and I love meeting new people all the time,” Vicky said. “Working at Dawsongroup gives me the flexibility to have the lifestyle I want.”
Emma has worked in the vehicle rental industry since she graduated in 2006, other than three years in crane hire. She began on a graduate trainee scheme which was a hybrid of operations and sales, and then moved into customer account coordination. After this, Emma transitioned into project management, and she never looked back. As Project Development Manager at Dawsongroup | vans in Milton Keynes, Emma develops and implements all kinds of different projects. She enjoys what she does as her role is always varied and she gets to work in every side of the business.
Her latest project is on the electrification of vehicles, both updating the Dawsongroup | vans fleet and assisting customers. With the government target of stopping the sale of cars and vans with combustion engines in 2030 fast approaching, Emma and her team have their work cut out.
She has never seen being a woman as a disadvantage. “There are less women in this industry, but we’re not passed over for anything,” said Emma. “There are a lot of strong women in the industry who do well. Women can be very good operators and that’s to our advantage.”
She has always found that Dawsongroup and the management team are inclusive of women and don’t differentiate between people based on their gender. At Dawsongroup | vans she feels that nothing has changed in the seven years she has been there, but nothing needs to change either. She thinks there is a good mix of male and female staff in almost every area of the business. The exception to this is the drivers, where there are currently no women employed and applications for positions are very rarely received from women. Emma suggests that this area of the industry may need promoting to women differently, as historically it has been seen as ‘men’s work’.
With such a diverse job, and one in which she can come up with ideas for the business, Emma has no desire to change roles. She wants to keep vans at the forefront of vehicle rental by bringing them up to date with technology, and at the same time she wants to represent women in the vehicle rental industry.
“In vans and vehicle rental there’s a lot of young innovative women and we need to encourage them to progress,” said Emma. “The industry needs more women in the higher, more senior management roles. We need to remove the image of them as tough, no-nonsense women, and instead they should just be seen as women.”