"Everyone can step up and double the rate."

Our mobilizer for the week is Lindsey Mancini, Head of Secretary General's Office at the International Association of Public Transport (UITP). Since 2017, UITP has started to implement a gender equality policy in events as well as in management. Linds

ey revealed to us how UITP staffs panels and positions.



Women make up about 22 percent of the mobility industry. Boards and events are correspondingly male-dominated - whether in the auto industry or among transportation companies. The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) has been actively campaigning for more women on panels and in their management positions since 2017. Head of Secretary General's Office at UITP. "The more women we get, the more women feel it's normal to speak or introduce themselves at an event„ says Lindsey Mancini.

„Because we can only imagine things we see and experience, we need to make more women visible." That's why UITP is leading by example, he said. "I believe that we as an association play a strong role here. Because this is where the people in the ranks of the members become visible. This is where decision makers come together and talk to each other."


By raising awareness, we can make a small difference in the way the entire transportation sector is perceived and we can start to make a difference in different countries.

Lindsey Mancini, Head of Secretary General's Office at UITP


It wasn't always that way at UITP, either, as Mancini recounts. After the big UITP Summit in Montreal in 2017, she says she was on her way home when she saw a tweet from a UITP member: "I had another wonderful experience at UITP, it was fantastic. But I have to say I was shocked at these all-male panels. I can't believe that UITP is not making more of an effort in the 21st century." That tweet, she said, opened her eyes.

 

International Association of Public Transport (UITP).

UITP is the Brussels-based international association of public transport. The association was founded in 1885 and has more than 1900 member companies in about 100 countries around the world. UITP members include associations such as the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) as well as individual transport companies and enterprises. The President of UITP is Khalid Alhogail, UITP Secretary General is Mohamed Mezghani.

 

In 2018, Mohamed Mezghani became the new UITP Secretary General. The issue of equality is very close to his heart, Mancini said. "That's another very important element: we had a very committed advocate, a man, at the head of the association who was very aware of the importance of the issue and really wanted to push it forward. If you want to change something, you need a champion like that to give space to the issue and encourage others."

In 2018, she said, UITP asked its Board for volunteers to develop a gender equality policy for the association. This informal advisory group included men and women from the UK, Scandinavia, Switzerland, North America, Australia and Spain, who worked together to formulate goals for UITP.


Equality in recruiting and leadership positions


"We had to ask ourselves, are we doing enough in our hiring policies?" says Mancini. Since then, at least one man and one woman interview during every hiring process. "No one should be interviewed by just a woman or just a man. These are basic things, but we didn't really implement them until 2018."


Women respond to job postings differently than men: a man who reads a job posting and thinks maybe two-thirds of it applies to him will apply. Women only apply if they feel they are a perfect fit for the job. So we have to be on the lookout for the women. They're there, but you have to invite them, encourage them and also tell them, 'We need you.

Lindsey Mancini, Head of Secretary General's Office at UITP


For the top positions on the UITP boards, at least one man and one woman must always be shortlisted. Because UITP board members are nominated and elected by the membership, Mancini says UITP accordingly regularly addresses its members when, for example, only one man is proposed as a country representative.

"It's a constant awareness-raising exercise," Mancini says. "We have country representatives, regional representatives and people representing the modes. And we keep saying, 'Dear applicants, please note that we have a gender policy.' We highly encourage women to apply." With success: in 2017, there was not a single woman on the UITP Executive Board, and now one-third of the board is female, she said.


Of course, even at UITP, the number of male and female applicants depends on the position, Mancini says. "In communications, marketing or administration, we have more female applicants. The IT department, for example, is male-dominated. But if you look at our secretariat, we have over a hundred people and the ratio is about 50:50. Middle management is also balanced."


Top management is not balanced at all. Right now there are two women and eight men. That's why we have gender-balanced shortlists in the hiring process for top positions. We are very aware of this and want to change. We talk a lot about this issue, but we're far from perfect.

Lindsey Mancini, Head of Secretary General's Office at UITP


At UITP events, there is a very high percentage of women speakers - compared to many other mobility events. In some cases, it is over 40 percent. "We haven't set a quota, but we are committed to doubling the percentage of women at events," Mancini says. "Everyone can step up and double the quota. If Asia-Pacific starts at 10 percent, they can go to 20 percent. In Europe, we started out at 15 percent and said, 'We want to get to 30 percent.' We've pretty much achieved that. At our big event - the Stockholm summit after Montreal - we doubled to 42 percent."


To make that work, she recommends always targeting women first. "The last thing you should do is put together a program, count the women, determine, 'okay, we need ten more,' and then try to fill the last few seats with women." She says, "It's really hard to approach women and say, 'Would you like to be on the panel?' It has to be you because you're a woman." It's just awkward to have that conversation and it sometimes backfires."

The best way to build a gender-equitable program, she said, is to talk to women first. "Only when women are represented on all the panels you want can you start adding the men."


There are few women working in the industry. That's a fact. But the ones you do find are great. Because they have to be good to get where they are. I've never seen a panel where the women weren't great.

Lindsey Mancini, Head of Secretary General's Office at UITP


Of course, she said, there is a situation where a panel is supposed to have only CEOs. If there is no female CEO, she said, you just have to get creative. "In such cases, it's good to play with formats. Instead of having four men speak one after the other, look for different ways to organize the session. Have interviews, have dialogues. That way you can include women who have something to say."


UITP board members don't speak on all-male panels

In addition to selecting speakers at its own events, UITP also pays close attention to where its members appear, Mancini said. "Mohamed was invited yesterday to a member organization that was having a management retreat with meetings and other things. He was asked to speak at a session where there were only men, and he said, no, I'm sorry, I can't do that."


Initially, she said, there was uncertainty, even within UITP, about whether such invitations from paying members could be declined. In the meantime, she says, it has been established. "When we raise such points, our members often say, "Oh, shit. You guys are right!" And the next time, the gender balance is much better." 

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