Women Employment in Urban Public Transport Sector

WISE - Results
Antwerp Work Meeting – company DeLijn

The Flemish transport company DeLijn, with 8.397 employees and 551 million passenger journeys per year, is divided into 5 geographical regions and owned by the Flemish Government – not by the municipality. DeLijn works with 80 subcontractors to deliver their service. In contrast to other transport companies, the city of Antwerp is not responsible for public transport.

Share of women
The women share at DeLijn is 16.9%. This share is not equally distributed within the different corporate departments. The percentage varies from 5% (rolling stock) until almost 50% (marketing, personnel, finance/ administration and management staff). The percentage of female tram drivers (22.1%) is higher than those of female bus drivers (13.6%).

Activities on gender equality
At DeLijn the issue of gender equality is not seen as a “stand alone”-subject and treated as a matter of diversity. It is integrated in the company’s “Diversity Plan”, which includes voluntary target figures for the personnel from ethnic majorities, people at the age of 50 plus, women, employees with physical obstacles, etc. This plan considers the following aspects: recruitment and selection, target figures, internal communications/raising awareness, training and support, well-being at work, personnel and work-life-balance. However, regarding the target figures, DeLijn’s focus is not set on developing special activities regarding women recruitment and women qualification to achieve these figures.

General characteristics of the situation in Flanders
The driving employees’ working hours/conditions at DeLijn seem to be a focus challenge. There is an interesting difference between working conditions (flexibility, part-time jobs) at DeLijn and their subcontractors. Strategies for part-time as proactive answer on gender equality can be improved. Especially the schedule adaptation for employees with children can be optimized. Another challenge for the company’s recruiting is the insufficient behavior- and Dutch-skills of (potential) employees. Vocational training is not focused on gender; DeLijn offers it to every employee for at least one day per year. The trainings are emphasized on Dutch language courses, due to the lack of language skills. For the trainings’ realization, DeLijn cooperates with external training companies. The company also offers training-on-the-job for recently entered employees, e.g. tram drivers. In general, the trainings are financed by DeLijn. Moreover, the qualification of labour in this market sector is financed substantially by the City of Antwerp with about 5 million € per year and by the local working agency with about 7 million €.
Personal attitudes on the driver’s job advantages stated by women are: work autonomy (independence), big responsibility of driving big vehicles and transporting passengers.