Steve Griffiths joined Women in Transport as a mentor for the Advance 2019 cohort. He has since been a regular at networking events and joined our team for the Big Transport and Logistics Diversity Challenge in June. Here Steve discusses what motivated him to become a mentor and his career advice for anyone working in transport.
How did you first hear about Women in Transport?
I was working with one of the sponsors of the Advance Mentoring Scheme, Xanta Limited, when I first heard about Women in Transport and it sounded interesting, so I decided to do some research. What I discovered was pretty impressive; an organisation trying to change the landscape of our industry for the better.
What motivated you to become a mentor on Advance?
I had always had an interest in mentoring and, mostly informally, had already been a mentor so I was keen to see what I could do to support the Advance scheme. I chatted with a previous mentor, who shared his thoughts on the scheme and why he felt it made a difference. I have a lot of experience in the industry and thought it was something I could share with others in their career journeys, the way my own mentors had shared their experiences with me. I also discussed this with some of my female colleagues who gave me an insight into some of the issues they experience in everyday working life and how having a mentor had helped them gain the confidence they needed to overcome some of these issues.
How did you approach your first meeting with your mentee?
I first met my mentee at the Women in Transport Christmas social and we had a good chat in informal surroundings so when we arranged the first mentoring meeting I already felt that we’d started to build a relationship. I wanted to ensure the first meeting was about getting to know each other and setting the scene as I feel that understanding each other better would help us identify the right areas to concentrate our efforts on when we met up. I wanted my mentee to feel that whilst she owned the direction of the conversations, we both had a responsibility in making them successful.
Have you learnt anything from being a mentor?
Absolutely, mentoring is an opportunity to learn about yourself and this happens when you meet new people and get to know them. The mentor-mentee relationship has proved to be a great learning experience for me. Being a mentor for Women in Transport has definitely made me think differently about the issues that women face in the workplace and has challenged me to think about how important my own language and behaviour is in changing the landscape to one in which we give everyone the same opportunities regardless of their gender.
What advice would you give to women working in the transport sector who are looking to progress their career?
I think that the advice I would give is not just for women in the industry but is equally applicable to men:
• Be yourself – you don’t need to pretend to be something you’re not. Everyone brings something different to the team and we should celebrate the diversity in our industry.
• Get involved – This is a massive industry with many great opportunities so build and use your networks and join associations/organisations that interest you.
• Be challenging – always call out unacceptable behaviour in others but do it in a considered way, helping them understand why their behaviour is unacceptable. Remember that many different things drive people’s behaviour. Not all poor behaviours are deliberate and often people need to be helped and educated to understand why their behaviour is not acceptable. But always consider your own behaviour as well and how it might affect others.
• Seek out allies – allies can come from anywhere and sometimes from the most unexpected quarters! Look out for them, seek them out and use their influence to help make change happen.
Members of Women in Transport benefit from networking with like-minded professionals, professional development workshops and technical talks, mentoring and access to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Transport.