Welcome to our Stella Women series celebrating the game-changing women who aren't afraid to shatter glass ceilings and drive change for other women. We're proud to partner with Stella Insurance to amplify the voices of these formidable females. Today, we're speaking with George McEncroe, the founder of Shebah - Australia's first all-female driver service.
In 2017, while raising her 4 kids as a single parent, George McEncroe thought driving rideshare was a great option to make some cash and still giving her enough time to line up with her kids' busy schedules. Twice she registered to drive for Uber but something made her feel very anxious about the prospect of driving men who'd had too much to drink, alone in her car, at night in parts of the city she barely knew.
It occurred to George that if she felt like that, it was unsurprising that she'd never had a woman driving her in a cab or an Uber. But with so many women seeking out flexible work, was fear the only reason women like her were staying away from transport? After testing the idea with a GoFundMe campaign George found her hypothesis had merit. Women had a strong desire to drive other women and be driven by other women. And that's where Shebah was born.
Since then, Shebah has taken over 150,000 female customers and their families safely home. It is the only rideshare service that provides baby seats and transports unaccompanied minors while offering the economic freedom so many women are desperately seeking in Australia.
George knew that pointing out the faults in a male-dominated industry like transport would get backlash from men, which only further motivated her to make Shebah a true disruptor in the transport industry. She is unapologetic in her mission for change for women, and that makes her pretty Stella to us! Here, she chats to us about motherhood, money, and creating safe spaces for women.
Now to Love: Transport is a very male-dominated industry, what sort of feedback did you receive when you launched Shebah?
George McEncroe: "There will always be naysayers. For every abusive message or person in the comment section screaming 'reverse sexism,' we receive hundreds of messages of gratitude from women who can finally work in rideshare and feel safe, get home without worrying, or transport their daughters without threat."
NTL: What should schools be teaching the next generation?
GM: "The definition of madness is trying the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. We've tried for generations to teach women how not to get attacked. We need to teach our sons to be allies, to create space for women to succeed, to call out bad behaviour and to never create it themselves. We need to look at how to design for all people and remove barriers to entry. We need to be teaching the difference between equity and equality."
NTL: What's the best advice you can give to women who are managing a career and motherhood?
GM: "Women should have the choice to do anything but that doesn't mean they should have the responsibility to do everything. Abandon perfectionism. Get off Instagram and be kind. Draw up tasks that belong to the house/family and not to the woman. Ideally keep working for money when you have kids because it keeps you sane, feeling powerful, independent and happier."
NTL: Why do you think businesses such as Stella and Shebah are so important for women?
GM: "Businesses such as Stella and Shebah approach problems from a woman's perspective. Our value propositions are based on real challenges. Importantly, we are making space for women in industries dominated by men, which can often be intimidating and exclusive. In my experience, women who feel unsafe cannot feel happy. The two are mutually exclusive. Very often men disregard, trivialise or cannot grasp the things that make women feel unsafe. Women being heard, believed, understood and validated generates safety, that creates a sense of trust and a solid relationship that lasts a lifetime. Women want to be seen and heard and have products designed specifically for them."
Brought to you by Stella Insurance.