DiDi Australia has announced its intent to achieve near-equal numbers of men and women drivers with the launch of an initial five-year roadmap towards 40:40:20 – a minimum of 40% representation of each gender on the platform. With women drivers making up less than 5% of Australia’s rideshare drivers at present, and research showing that both women drivers and riders feel less safe whilst ridesharing, DiDi is committed to increasing the number of woman drivers on its platform whilst also addressing women travel safety concerns of riders and drivers.
As part of this commitment to creating an improved ecosystem for women drivers and better peace of mind for women, DiDi has today launched TripChoice, providing women driver-partners the option to pick up women riders only. Research undertaken by DiDi has revealed that the choice to match with other women is the most desired request by both women riders and drivers, with over 58% of woman driver-partners on the platform choosing to only drive during the day due to perceived safety concerns. Currently night trips make up just 7% of total trips completed by women drivers, and our research results indicate that over 55% of women drivers would drive more or later hours with TripChoice activated.
DiDi’s initial five-year goal is to increase women driver numbers from less than 5% to 20%, with a five-year roadmap consisting of three key components: sector-specific research and education, women drivers’ usage and support of DiDi rideshare platform, and the development of products and features aimed at addressing women driver and rider concerns, particularly safety concerns.
DiDi will also embark on research and engagement projects seeking to better identify, address and reduce the barriers to entry for women drivers, encourage more participation from women drivers in the use and support of rideshare platforms, educate both riders and drivers on areas such as unconscious bias and gender equity, and understand and address the safety concerns and issues that face minority groups who utilise rideshare.
DiDi aims to eventually launch a women-only ridesharing product in key capital cities as part of the five-year plan, allowing women riders a choice to be picked up by a woman driver, and increasing more opportunities for women seeking flexible engagements as drivers on the DiDi app. Achieving near-equal numbers of men and women drivers on the platform will be key to bringing this product to life on a mass scale.
DiDi Australia spokesperson Michelle Leong said: “We are proud to announce the launch of TripChoice as part of our five-year plan to address the underrepresentation of women in the ridesharing industry, and women safety concerns whilst travelling around the city. We are seeking the support of the DiDi community and wider Australian community along the way, acknowledging that a lower perception of safety amongst women is not just a rideshare issue, but a societal issue.
“DiDi has worked hard to support driver partners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and throughout this crisis statistics has shown the economic impact has been greater for women in Australia than for men. We hope to support the community by offering a safe opportunity for all Aussies to earn flexibly, regardless of gender, whilst also letting our women riders know that we’re taking steps to address their safety concerns whilst on the road.”
Susanne Legena, CEO of the charity for girls’ equality Plan International Australia, welcomed this new initiative from the rideshare industry and said that any effort to improve safety for girls and women in all their diversities was a step in the right direction.
“Though our research over the years, girls have told us time and time again that they too often feel unsafe in the city and on transport, where they face constant harassment and frightening abuse. This leaves young women feeling completely disempowered.
“Our groundbreaking Free to Be project – an interactive map of cities such as Melbourne and Sydney that flagged where girls felt most safe and most unsafe – showed that one in four young women felt unsafe when using public transport alone. Many of the girls we spoke to said they would go home early rather than stay out because they felt so unsafe. This was so shocking to me.
“What’s more, our follow up report, ‘Unsafe in the City: Sydney’, revealed that 90% of young women in Sydney do not feel safe after dark, and nearly half of those women who reported harassment and bad incidents went on to completely avoid the area it happened in if they were alone.
“By forcing girls and women to constantly adjust their behaviour to stay safe, society is denying them the benefits and opportunities of city life. Their access to work and study opportunities, and their ability to enjoy the city, is restricted,” she said.
DiDi Australia driver partner Dianna Balfour said: “Women are always looking for good part-time work and this an opportunity to do so in a safe environment. I’ve often spoken to women who I’ve picked up and they are so grateful they have a woman driver. They often say ‘gosh, you’re the first woman driver I’ve had. I think (TripChoice) it is going to be a wonderful initiative.”
TripChoice has been launched nationally across twenty-eight cities.