The Queensland Trucking Association points us in the direction of a recent initiative to allow affirmative action on women truck drivers, which may prove to be a model for others to follow.
According to the QTA, the Ipswich City Council sought an exemption under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (QLD) from the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) that would allow them to target women in their attempts to hire Waste Services Truck Drivers and assist them in gaining their Heavy Rigid (HR) licences.
“Given the under-representation of women within trucking and the socio-economic factors that have historically prevented progress in this area, the granting of the exemption provides a pathway for other members to close the gap,” said the QTA Newsletter.
In its decision the QIRC stated:
The QIRC, having considered the submission granted the exemption. In their decision they had to determine whether the exemption is in the community interest. In reaching the determination that it was in the interest of the community, they highlighted that:
companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21 per cent more likely to drive financial returns that outperform industry averages;
the rise in female employment since 1974 has boosted Australia’s economic activity by 22 per cent;
encouraging more women to join the workforce will fill roles across all sectors, increasing productivity and meeting consumer demand; and
having a diverse range of voices gives businesses a large pool of expertise and makes them better at adapting to change.
Ipswich City Council applied to QIRC that an exemption be granted under the Act that would allow them to discriminate by sex in offering work and training opportunities. In seeking the exemption, they submitted that should the exemption be granted it would assist or advance women disadvantaged because of discrimination they have already faced. In support of this they identified that:
- women are recognised as being under-represented across the transport industry and, in the specific case of the Council, there were only two female drivers from a cohort of just over 50 drivers;
- Generally, only 17.5 per cent of those working in the transport industry were women, and of those, only 6.5 per cent were women in driving positions (from Working Women in Transport – A Snapshot The Follow Up)
- the transport industry is rated as one of the lowest in Australia for gender diversity. 26.4 per cent of the workforce were women, far lower that the all industry average of 46.9 per cent (from Driving Change: Transport Industry’s Gender Equality Gap Revealed)
They also identified that there are often socio-economic barriers faced by women seeking to meet the Heavy Rigid (HR) licence prerequisite and that there are significant costs involved in obtaining a HR licence, including specialised lessons, the time involved for the lessons, as well as the cost of the licence itself. When considering the costs, it further matters that women are on average paid 14 per cent less than men (Australia’s Gender Pay Gap Statistic 2020).