International Women’s Day 2022: Voi strives to #BreaktheBias in transport

Mar 8, 2022

Access to safe and affordable transport is essential to foster societies that leave no one behind and enable all people to participate and contribute. That is why we, at Voi, have strived since day one to democratise micromobility, and make it accessible to all.

However, from our research and rider surveys, there is one gap that grates with us: transport has a gender issue. Women make up 50% of the population, but only 22% of employees in the transport sector meaning they are grossly underrepresented in decision and policy-making that affects them just as much as men, if not more. In fact, the travel patterns of and daily activities that women undertake are much more complex than those of men, as women are often responsible for domestic chores or taking care of children and older relatives, on top of having full time jobs. (ITF)

Voi operates at the intersection of the tech and transport industries; two industries with documented systemic gender biases. Working in this space means we not only have a responsibility but also a huge opportunity to ensure our service and workplace advances gender equity, freedom of movement and inclusion for people of all genders.

Antonia Brandberg, Chief People Officer at Voi says: “We have a very diverse customer base and, in order to build the best service possible that caters to all mobility needs, our teams need to reflect that diversity. Female representation is crucial not only in our leadership but in every department and aspect of our operations.”

#BreaktheBias

In recognition of this year’s theme for International Women’s Day – #BreaktheBias – we sat down with five of our employees and asked them about what biases they’ve come across in the transport and tech industry, and why female representation is so important.

Marcela Andrioni, Ambassador Supervisor

Jacqueline Boina, Growth Marketing Associate

Sofie Cederberg, Communications Manager

Farah Johnson-May, Tender Copywriter

Katarina Schlittler, Senior Operations Manager

What is Voi doing to advance gender equity?

1. We have set commitments to achieve gender equity under SDG 5

Gender equity is an important pillar of the UN’s agenda for a sustainable world in 2030. Serving as Sustainable Development Goal 5, the empowerment of all women and girls has been identified as a key factor in making progress on many of the other 16 goals.

Under this SDG, Voi has:

  • In 2021, committed to increase our female talent by 50% by 2025

  • Committed to track and publish pay gap data by 2023

  • Committed to offer parental leave benefits to employees across all markets, regardless of their gender or biological bond to a new family member

Today, 24% of Voi’s employees identify as female. 50% of our General Managers and 38% of our Engineering Managers are women. What do these numbers tell us? That we are above the transport sector standard, yes, but we still have a long way to go.

Read more about our commitments to SDG 5.

2. We have published a roadmap towards more inclusive transport

In 2021, we teamed up with Paris-based mobility research company 6t to create a roadmap for inclusion and equity. One that focuses on the fundamental fact that the micromobility sector is at risk of excluding rather than including a wide sector of society. It’s part of our Voiage to change that.

The report “Micromobility for all” was published in June 2021 and discusses what micromobility inclusiveness really means, and presents three key steps towards achieving it: access to all, tailored service and meaningful involvement. Read more about our roadmap for inclusion and equity.

3. Gender equity research & Gender Equity Commission

In autumn 2021, Voi UK commissioned JFG Comms & Women In Transport to run a series of focus groups exploring women’s perceptions of shared e-scooters, in order to get a better understanding of how we can build a more inclusive service and close the gender gap in micromobility.

In response to these focus groups, we then conducted further research via questionnaires, and were delighted to have over 600 respondents. We have now formed the first ever Gender Equity Commission for micromobility who will meet in March 2022 to provide recommendations based on the research, with a view to publishing the findings and feedback by May 2022. Read more about Voi’s industry-first Gender Equity Commission.

4. Gender equity forums and partnerships

Micromobility is part of a wider ecosystem of transport operators and authorities, and we recognise the need to work together if we are to address the gender imbalance in transport once and for all.

Voi has established a number of local partnerships in the UK, DACH and Sweden to take forward initiatives related to gender equity, and we are currently members of three major European forums – POLIS, ITF and UITP.

We have been active in supporting the ITF in their project ‘Gender Equality and the Role of Women In Transport and Climate Change Action’ to better understand the links between gender, transport and climate change and the guiding principles to help countries and businesses review their transport decision-making processes, including measures to support women’s leadership in transport and climate change policies. At ITF’s panel during COP26 on “The role of gender equality in decarbonising transport”, Voi’s CEO and co-founder Fredrik Hjelm said:

“Travel patterns between men and women differ. Historically and currently most transport services and products are designed by men for men, which is fundamentally a problem.”

“I founded Voi with a strong belief that climate change is one of the biggest problems we have on earth. Transportation needs to be at the forefront of solving this. We want to be a company that builds solutions and includes all necessary voices in the service design from end to end. We are partnering with organisations like Women in Transport and Open Inclusion to get these voices to the table when we design our service.”

(see the panel here from ca 34:45:00)

IT saga: The most diverse team at Voi

Alex Tsarapatsanis heads up the most diverse team at Voi – the IT department – which he has had the privilege of building almost from scratch. As Alex says:

“It was really important to me that I didn’t just bring in a team of young, white data guys who like computers. I’m that guy, I wanted other types of perspectives.”

Tsarapatsanis describes the team’s ability to tackle issues in a more efficient way, given that a group of different backgrounds can provide many different ideas and nuances to problem-solving.

“As a manager, I try to be open and nuanced in how I think. But I can never approach things through the eyes of a minority that I’m not part of. With a diverse team we can ensure that a task is approached from many different angles and that the best and most creative idea wins in the end.”

He continues to describe how the openness in the team has also created an atmosphere in which everyone is more receptive to feedback and change, and that the team members have become more autonomous and confident in their decision-making.

Today, women make up 60% of Voi’s IT team, a profession that is traditionally dominated by men. This wasn’t only achieved through standard recruiting practices, but through active scouting of female talent and collaborating with organisations such as Tekniksprånget (The Tech Leap), an organisation that matches companies with interns and strives to get more young women interested in technical education programmes. Voi has also welcomed three interns via its sister organisation Jobbsprånget (The Work Leap), that matches employers with newly arrived talent with an academic degree in engineering, architecture, business or science. Alex Tsarapatsanis adds:

“Collaborating with Tekniksprånget and Jobbsprånget is probably the best thing our team has done. Several of the talents have stayed with us as employees after their internships ended. Others have gone back to education or been offered jobs at bigger, more established companies like Ericsson. Whether they stayed with us or not, I’m honoured that we have been able to provide talented individuals with a stepping stone onto the next stage in their careers.”


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