As taxi firms struggle with shortages of drivers, a taxi boss believes bringing more women into the industry will not only solve the problem, but will improve services, especially as the majority of taxi customers are women.
Rachel Dale, head of operations for AAA Taxis, is among a number of people calling for change in the male-dominated taxi industry.
She said: “I’m encouraging women of all ages and from all backgrounds to apply for various roles in the taxi fleet, from drivers to working in the office, as well as higher up on the business side.
“They have so many skills they can bring to a business that will help it to grow and as most passengers are women, having more women as drivers is more representative and will be a positive thing.”
While Rachel does not believe there is any direct opposition to more women joining the taxi fleet, she says myths and misunderstanding are the biggest obstacles faced by women considering joining the industry.
“I think part of it is historical – it has always been seen as a male industry and something that few women do.
“I have progressed to a senior level because of my skills, qualifications and experience and have only ever been treated very well by people.”
Working on the front line as taxi drivers do, the safety of drivers, especially women, is a concern.
Rachel said: “One of the biggest concerns is safety but, as with any driver, you have to be careful. There have to be procedures and safeguards in place to protect not just women, but all drivers and it should be the same nationally so that it isn’t safer for women drivers in certain areas, but it could be more dangerous in others.”
Working in the taxi fleet is something Rachel believes will appeal to women especially as it can fit in around childcare and their busy lives.
She said: “It might be that they work between school runs and can still look after their children as well as doing a job that is very worthwhile. They can work part time or flexible working to suit their needs.
“It also opens up career opportunities for them because they can progress with a taxi firm, or decide to start their own taxi business.
“It might also suit some one who has retired and wants to still get out and meet people, and earn some money.”
As part of the drive to recruit more women into the industry, Rachel has founded the Females in the Fleet Charter to ‘actively encourage, train and mentor women to join the industry and provide a safe working environment for females in the fleet’.
It has been backed by AAA, which operates in Luton, St Albans, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Hertford, Potters Bar and London.
Rachel said: “Currently the taxi and private hire workforce is dominated by males with women making up only 3 per cent, yet more women take taxi journeys than men. AAA seeks to redress the balance.
“There has been a lot of support in the industry for this and now we want it to go further with the public and get everyone on board.”
And Rachel’s aim is to see an equal mix of men and women who are treated fairly and as equals in all areas of the taxi industry.
She said: “A 50-50 split of men and women would be fantastic. It is currently 3 per cent, and for our first goal, I would like to see it go up by 10 per cent initially, which would be a great stepping stone towards the target.”
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