People outside the transport sector, including more women, are taking up driver roles as a result of the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both Asda Logistics Services, which has seen its online grocery business double and its home delivery fleet grow by 70% since the pandemic began, and Royal Mail, which has similarly had an upsurge in parcel deliveries, have experienced an increase in female applicants, and are attracting people from other industries.
Speaking at a recent Fleet News and Everywoman webinar, Jon Parry, vice president, Asda Logistics Services, explained that at the start of the pandemic, about 25,000 of Asda’s 140,000 employees had had to shield, leading to the creation of a number of temporary roles in distribution centres, stores and on the road, some of which have become permanent due to the growth in online deliveries.
“We started to recruit lots of females, as well as males, from other industries like the airline industry, and some of the areas that have unfortunately gone out of business,” Parry said.
“Of the new complement of drivers, about 65% are male and about 35% are female so that’s really encouraging.”
Kimberley Mcintosh, service delivery leader at Royal Mail, said that people who had unfortunately lost their jobs or been furloughed were open to considering an industry that they “wouldn’t have looked at before”.
More flexible working practices have also helped to attract women.
Mcintosh said that Royal Mail has had to adapt to people only being able to work first thing in the morning or later on in the evening due to childcare constraints, and to be more flexible to “ensure we attract as many people as possible”.
That has a resulted in a much higher number of women who are interested in doing deliveries, which has been a “real eye-opener,” Mcintosh said.
Anna Delvecchio, development director – transportation at Mott MacDonald, added that “there have always been a number of great roles across both transport and logistics” but “perhaps our image needed some work to inspire others to join”.
Both she and Mcintosh, who are former winners of the Everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards (Mcintosh won the freight leader award in 2019, while Delvecchio won woman of the year in 2018), spoke about the importance of female role models and what winning the award meant to them.
Mcintosh said: “It’s great to be able to showcase what it means to be a woman in the industry and the career path that I’ve been able to forge, particularly over the past six years.”
She added that she had faced challenges and “it was not always an easy road” but it was positive to have male allies, such as Parry, who “champion female succession and talent and development within the industry”.
Delvecchio said that the award had given her “a platform to help others”.
“Something I’ve done over the past couple of years is I’ve nominated many others for the Everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards.
“And these are individuals that don’t work for my organisation.
“These are role models that I believe showcase the great career opportunities that we have across transport and logistics.”
- Nominations for the 2021 Everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards close on Monday, February 22. To nominate or find out more about the awards, visit the awards website here.