Leadership special – Diversity for profitability

Covid-19 has accelerated the diversification of the transport sector and this can deliver benefits at every level of business, writes Grahame Neagus from Renault Trucks UK.

Covid-19 has changed society beyond recognition, including an unprecedented increase in home deliveries and the uptake of electromobility. The resulting need for new drivers has given rise to a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion where it matters most.
Gender diversity is an area where transport has historically lagged behind other sectors. However, the demand for delivery drivers is seeing more businesses tapping into a wider talent pool, with women now representing one in every fifteen professional van drivers. Companies with a more diverse workforce offer a better reflection of their own customers, often with positive feedback.

There are also financial advantages. A more diverse driving force delivers better fuel returns, lower accident rates, fewer complaints, and lower insurance costs. These benefits make a strong case for diversity for any business and especially for transport businesses. Studies show that the LCV community now celebrates drivers of all backgrounds, genders, and ages.
It has been a slow process despite the rapid growth in 2020. This type of employment has benefits that may not be immediately obvious. Vehicles such as the Renault Trucks Master Z.E, for example, are designed with modern interiors, easy access and egress, better technology and connectivity, to make the driving experience more comfortable and highly suited to multi-drop operations.

Additionally, as electromobility moves from into commercial vehicles, this technology is helping to attract new people into the industry.
How does the sector continue to improve on this growth? One way of enticing a more diverse talent pool is to be more vocal about equality and make this clear on your website, and in recruitment images and messaging. An inclusive workplace is a powerful recruiting tool. Research by PwC shows that female millennials look for employers with a strong record on diversity. It can also help with staff retention, cutting down recruitment costs.
Diversity and inclusion as core values have fiscal benefits, with a positive impact on the bottom line. According to McKinsey, the companies in the top quartile for gender diversity at executive level are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability, while those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 33% more likely.

Early signs suggest that these businesses are more likely to make better and bolder executive decisions − critical in any crisis − and to bounce back more quickly by seeking new opportunities to boost representation and strengthen performance and internal organisational health.

2020 saw a seismic change in the volume of new entrants to the transport industry. If we treat our staff well, we will not only retain many of these new recruits but also attract more. According to Women in Transport, women make up 47% of the population yet account for only 20 percent of the transport workforce. Just 1.2% of HGV drivers are female. With a 45,000 HGV driver shortage in the UK, there is a huge opportunity to start changing perceptions and improve the diversity of the heavy-duty sector.

As Covid-19 changes the employment landscape, we have an opportunity to embrace the benefits of a more inclusive workplace to make this an industry that works for all. The modern LCV product offers a great workplace for anyone wishing to be part of our industry, getting close to customers and being a true ambassador for their brand.