Working Towards Industry Goals With Women In Truckingby Jake Tully - Published: 10/18/2016
Even when the trucking industry faces hardships, tragedies and shake-ups, one organization that has provided unwavering support and consistency to those behind the wheel is Women In Trucking.
Since 2007, industry professionals have turned to Women In Trucking as a resource that aims to improve the world of commercial driving, as well as a group that remains focused despite what issues may plague the industry.
“We’re a nonprofit organization and our mission is pretty simple,” said Ellen Voie, Women In Trucking President and CEO, “We’re here to increase the number of women in trucking industry.”
Women In Trucking has been operating as a resource for its members and for the public as a whole and wants to include anyone that wishes to see more women visible in the industry of trucking.
“We are a resource board so if somebody joins us then they have access to our information,” said Voie.“We do a lot of work with The University of Memphis and The University of Wisconsin where we conduct research on truck ergonomics, what women look for in recruiting ads, for example. We have a recruiting guide we give to our members where we show them things like where women look for our ads and why they stay in the industry or why they stay with a certain carrier.”
Voie explained that the need for an organization like Women In Trucking is not only necessary for women, but also for the unique world that is trucking itself.
“More inclusive recruiting is driven by capacity issues, “said Voie. “Recruiters need to fill those seats. They’re starting to broaden their view of who is a potential driver and they’re starting to wonder how they can get more drivers of a certain age group or gender or ethnicity.
Voie said that recruiters are struggling in using modern tactics to entice women to join the industry. With many other industry organizations placing women at approximately 5 percent of the entire industry for the past few years, some may believe that the figure has plateaued indefinitely.
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Despite this, Voie said that the figures of women in the transportation industry are not accurately reflected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources that draw from that particular data.
“Everything I hear is that carriers are increasing the percent of female drivers and truck driving schools are seeing more female drivers,” said Voie. “As soon as we get more accurate data we’ll put out a press release. Our hope is that carriers will look at that figure and if they’re above average in female drivers maybe we can look at their best practices in how to recruit and maintain female drivers.”
Voie said that she estimates the number of women in the industry to be closer to 7 or 8 percent. Nonetheless, there are major difficulties to achieve these numbers alone, much less to grow the numbers.
According to Voie, one of the largest problems that the industry is currently facing is its overall image in regards to hiring female drivers within and selling the industry to the outside public.
“People outside of the industry look at the image and they see trucks, they feel it’s a male-dominated environment,” said Voie. “Women don’t feel that they are capable or valued in the trucking industry.”
One of the goals of Women In Trucking is to have a more open and honest communication about the positions available transportation industry.
Voie said that the industry isn’t without a bevy of job openings, but these positions are advertised in a traditional or outdated manner.
“It amazes me when people tell me they can’t shift or back a truck or that they’re not mechanically minded,” said Voie. “I tell them that they don’t realize how much technology is in the trucks these days and that they can do it.”
A great deal of the issues regarding the figures of women in trucking revolves around job listings having information that is unnecessary or no longer pertinent to the job itself.
Voie suggests that hiring companies ought to take a look at their job descriptions and ensure that the copy is up-to-date.
“A lot of times if these jobs have lifting requirements or other physical requirements that are outdated,” said Voie. “If the job no longer requires someone to lift 50 pounds then they need to remove that requirement and take down that barrier.”
In addition to the current landscape of job openings and hiring active drivers, Women In Trucking is working with a younger generation in order to get them excited about potential careers within commercial transportation.
Voie said that Women In Trucking worked with Girl Scouts in the Greater Chicago and Northern Indiana areas to create a patch equivalent to the Boy Scout’s Transportation Patch.
“We’re working on an activity book that shows how a girl scout cookie starts out in a field to a bakery, to a packing center to the final mile,” said Voie. “The final mile – it’s the Girl Scouts themselves. So it will make the supply chain more realistic to them.
Women In Trucking is also working on their own index to provide accurate information on the best tactics for inclusive recruiting, as well as their Accelerate! Conference next month in Dallas,.
Overall, Voie suggested that recruiters tell drivers – both male and female – the bigger picture that they will be participating in when taking a career in driving.
“By using values of jobs or telling driver that they will be helping feed America or helping clothe America, it equates the job more to the bigger picture,” said Voie. “It shows drivers how this job benefits the neighbor next door.