Interview: Driving Change With Shebah’s CEO George McEncore

07th Sep, 2021

George McEncore has had an interesting career to say the least, her resumé includes presenting breakfast radio, stand-up comedy, teaching, disability carer and now, CEO. 

 

From starting a new business in the midst of a divorce, to creating an award-winning Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, or collecting testimonies for the War Crimes Tribunal George is an unstoppable force. 

 

In 2017, while raising her 4 kids as a single parent, George thought driving rideshare was a great option to make some cash and still giving her still enough time to line-up with her kids’ busy schedules. What became clear very quickly was that there was a huge lack of women in the rideshare sector, so she ideated and created an alternative. Shebah. Now Australia’s leading all-women rideshare service Shebah provides not only safe transport for women it also offers the economic freedom so many women are desperately seeking in Australia.

“The birth of Shebah allowed George to make space for women in start-ups and the tech industry. She’s a fierce competitor in a field where women are an afterthought.”

Now Shebah employs over 1,000 drivers, all of whom are female, and now all share in the collective empowerment that Shebah provides with flexibility and a solid income (it’s worth adding Shebah drivers keep 85% of their fare), while also providing her drivers with free workshops with experts who provide tips and tricks for financial literacy that will help the Shebah team and no doubt their children in the years to come. 

 

Shebah has taken over 90,000 female customers and their families safely home since 2017, and is one of the only rideshares that offer baby seats with still plenty of room for strollers (and the shopping) 

 

She’s a loving mother, a powerful role model, and an unapologetic woman with the unwavering courage to find humour even some of her darkest days. We are so excited that George is taking time to chat to us for this month’s ‘Stella Women Series’.

"Creating equality and equity in rideshare, like any industry, is multifaceted. We need safe communities and careful procedures to keep women safe while working. We need to champion the needs of families and kids. But solving the problem doesn't stop there. Our whole world was built for men. One example people might not think of is there is a real challenge for drivers to meet safety standards while driving in CBDs. To find a safe place to stop a car that gets the women and or children close to their destination can be challenging for drivers. They need to meet standards of road safety and community safety. That becomes even more challenging when we think of getting a child or baby out of a car seat in the middle of the city. There are so many ways women need to navigate systems that just were not built for them."

Tell us more about the work environment and culture of your team? 

In starting this company, it was crucial for me to ensure every aspect of the operation was Australian owned and operated. That means now, a few years on, we have a tight-knit team who know each other well and work towards a common goal.

How important do you think it is for women to have financial freedom from their partners? 

It’s absolutely essential for women to have financial independence in any context. There are so many factors at play when it comes to a romantic or family dynamic, such as the disproportionate amount of emotional labour and housework that falls on women. When it comes to raising a family, women often experience time out of the paid workforce, which leads to a gap in super payments. A report by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute in late 2019 found homelessness amongst older women had increased by 31 per cent between 2011 and 2016. It also found women over 55 now comprise six per cent of all homeless people in Australia. Those years spent taking on unpaid labour and missing super can really take a toll.

Do you believe the Australian government should be doing more to empower women financially?

Yes. I saw a stat during national breastfeeding week recently which stated, “a year of breastfeeding equates to a conservative estimate of 1,800 hours of a mother’s time. This isn’t far off from a full time job considering that a 40-hour work week with three weeks of vacation comes in at 1,960 hours of work time a year.” We constantly see reports of women dominated industries having lower paid average salaries than those dominated by men. We see women paid less for the same output as men.

Diversity quotas aren’t enough to fix this. The Australian government needs to disarm the systems which oppress women’s financial freedom.

How can women become a share-ride driver with Shebah? 

Easily. Head to our website shebah.com.au/drive to find the steps for each state and territory. Essentially with a working with children’s and roadworthy car, you’re there.

Where do you see Shebah headed in the next 12 months? 

Our goal is to provide a safe passage home to every woman in Australia and beyond. We aim to achieve our next round of investment to ensure we can market Shebah in more rural parts of Australia. Key to this success is getting more drivers on board to meet the huge demand for our service.

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