Trucking HR Canada’s 7th Annual Women with Drive Leadership Summit kept the international women’s day celebratory vibes of women, women leaders, and women in the industry going full speed. While the event was a little different — being the first time it was held virtually and globally — we still brought together over 200 women from the industry to connect and learn from one another. It left delegates with the regular high dose of inspiration along with practical and insightful take-aways from a roster of formidable speakers.
Michaëlle Jean, who served as Governor General of Canada from 2005 to 2010, and Halla Tómasdóttir, Icelandic businessperson and CEO of the B Team, left us with a plethora of insights. The 2021 Women with Drive stage provided me with four key takeaways from our keynote speakers:
We are change makers
Jean trumpeted the efforts the trucking industry has put forward. She noted that we have been heralded as heroes during this time of pandemic, saying that it is time for the invisible to become visible. She noted that front line workers and those in the trucking industry are finally getting the public attention that they deserve, claiming that it is the hard workers in our industry who have suffered an inexcusable blind spot before the pandemic; and that it is time we recognize that we offer good meaningful work for hundreds of thousands of Canadians. What we do with this new attention and praise is key. Truck drivers notably, as Jean mentions, have a remarkable and unique role in that they get to see sights many of us never will. This is perhaps a potential draw for recruiters to take note of.
A philanthropist at heart, she also encouraged us to leverage our reach. She earnestly reminded us that our trucks are moving billboards for cause and positivity. This is what many of our Top Fleet Employers do when participating in various charitable causes such as: Plaid for Dad, Pink for the Cure, and Art Saves Lives. We often forget to highlight this part of the trucking industry as an attraction – that it is not just trucking. It is so much more. It is a multitude of causes and action, and ingenuity. By highlighting the change maker abilities of our sector, Jean created a powerful united feeling of potential.
Employers have an opportunity
Jean also reminded us that the pandemic has created an opening for us to further investigate some of our collective societal issues. Saying, “In the same way lemon juice and a light bulb manifest invisible ink,” the pandemic has highlighted many core societal issues including, racism, sexism, homophobia, and ageism. Perhaps the pandemic has helped to dismantle many of the things that are otherwise wrong with our current society. She challenges employers to use this moment for change and examine their own diversity and inclusion policies.
Women belong everywhere – including trucking
Tómasdóttir reminded us of the “inner leader” that we all have. We need to confront our imposter feelings to excel and believe in our capabilities. And, as women, we need to stop doubting and questioning our abilities and our right to be in certain professional spaces. Women belong everywhere – and yes, that includes trucking. The pandemic, she noted, has brought about a time when women’s leadership is being noticed and recognized. She reminded us that when women have a seat at the table, positive changes are made, and we see progress. For more women to be in leadership, young women need mentors and to see women who are succeeding at the highest levels.
No more business as usual
We may never go back to how things were before the pandemic – and Tómasdóttir highlighted that this is not necessarily a bad thing. A lot was wrong with the world before and the pandemic is causing us to question what could ultimately be better. Maybe Canadians can continue to honor truckers and the entire trucking industry as essential work. Perhaps we can embrace a future when trucking is more alluring to new and young workers. And certainly, with current unemployment rates, we have the possibility to invite and welcome people into our industry more than ever before.
The trucking industry is one of change, one that appreciates inclusion and diversity, one that encourages women’s leadership, and one that is filled with women with drive. The Women with Drive Leadership Summit remains an important event for the trucking industry – because we still need, and always will need, women with drive.
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