Meet Thea and hear about how being an ally can drive inclusiveness and make all the difference
At Yunex Traffic, we are continually working to create a workplace that is equal, diverse and inclusive. But we know this is not always easy in our industry. We need passionate allies who support the drive for equality. Thea Watts, a Business Development Lead in the UK, shares a recent experience and the importance of allies in driving forward a culture of inclusiveness and ensuring everyone has the same opportunities.
By Thea Watts, Business Development Lead, UK
As a Business Development Lead at Yunex Traffic UK, I’m responsible for building relationships with new customers, showcasing our innovative portfolio and identifying how we can support their manufacturing needs. I love what I do and I love the team who I do it with! Our Global Manufacturing team are amazing, inspiring and I love working with such a fun and talented team.
As you might expect with a Business Development role, I attend many exhibitions, trade shows and industry events to represent Yunex Traffic UK. You can usually find me on the Yunex Traffic stand talking all things Manufacturing (come say hello next time to see us!)
On International Women’s Day, I wanted to take the opportunity to share an experience that highlighted just some of the challenges women face in a male-dominated transport industry, and also what I learned from it.
It’s no secret that the transport industry is male-dominated.
It’s also no secret that many of our industry colleagues are already allies who are passionate about driving equality and inclusion. But, there is definitely a way to go.
While attending a recent event, I had a conversation with a female contact who shared her experience of being overlooked at the event. This resonated with me, as I too had experienced similar treatment: many attendees were overlooking me on our stand and heading straight towards my male colleagues. While it was disconcerting to admit, it was good to discuss this openly with someone. Although we acknowledge that this behaviour is not acceptable, it’s comforting to know we’re not alone.
It isn’t just women who want to drive change.
What happened after the conversation truly showed me that we aren’t alone in how we can change things either. My male colleague, who overheard our conversation, was shocked by our experience and immediately wanted to talk with me. I should point out that I don’t experience this at work – my colleagues are great, and we all bring something to the table and appreciate one another’s input – but it does feel as though the industry in general is playing catch up.
For the remainder of the event, my colleague made a clear point of bringing me into every conversation. He directed people towards me and introduced me as the expert they needed to talk to. I loved this. Whilst it certainly made my day a little busier, in that moment, one of my colleagues became even more of an ally. His way of thinking changed, and as a result, my way of thinking changed. I realized that sometimes people need to see things from another angle – and a different source. It was a positive day and a positive experience. I learned that sharing experiences first-hand with others is what can truly help to shape an inclusive, equal and diverse culture.
My key takeaway? I encourage everyone to speak up, share your experiences and embrace allies who are wanting to learn and support the drive for equality, inclusion and diversity.