Why we need Women with Drive

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The topic of women in the workforce has been, and continues to be, a trending topic. Our representation in trucking shadows our male counterparts: federal labor statistics show that women comprise just 27% of the transportation workforce. Of this 27%, 18% are senior managers and 15% are supervisors. Overall, women represent only 3% of drivers, technicians, and mechanics.

We’re making improvements but there is room for us to do better and do more.

Trucking HR Canada highlighted the lack of women in the trucking workforce as an issue in 2014, when our national Women with Drive advisory committee was formed. The committee is led by 18 accomplished women and men, including company presidents, senior managers, and HR leads.

We came together with a common vision to support employers in recruiting and retaining more women in trucking. With women comprising 48% of the Canadian labor force, this effort isn’t simply a question of “doing the right thing.” It is first and foremost a business issue for an industry facing significant shortages in key occupations.

As a millennial woman this resonates with me. In fact, it is one of the main reasons why I joined Trucking HR Canada in the first place.

Occupations from funeral directors to architects have managed to increase women representation over the past couple of years. Our industry can flip the perception and rid itself of its “male-dominated” label, as well.

Enter our annual Women with Drive Leadership Summit. The very name—summit—signifies our work. We are climbing, working to reach a goal and drive change.

Each year, we bring transportation professionals together, both men and women, to learn from each other, share success stories, and nurture our networks. We have fun doing it! And each year, there are more young women in attendance.

As someone born in 1990, and having attended the event since its inception, here are some of my key takeaways from my experiences at our Women with Drive Leadership Summit:

1. Recruiting and retaining women is a business issue

At our event last year, Stephania Varelli from the Women of Influence organization told us that economies do better when women do better. Everyone wins.
From a business perspective, it simply makes sense to get on board with this demographic shift as it can also help in recruiting young people who want to work for forward-thinking employers. It’s also good business sense to not overlook 50% of the talent available.

2. Leading by example

The Women with Drive Leadership Summit brings together a variety of people in transportation. Each year leaders, managers, drivers, and more take the stage and share insights, experiences, and opportunities. This diverse mix shows young women, whether they’re in high school or already in the workplace, that a career in our industry is not only an option, but a career of choice for many.

3. Networking leads to great mentors

This event delivers new and exciting opportunities to make connections. The room is full of accomplished and experienced individuals who want to help the next generation. I am speaking from experience: I have found great mentors at the Summit with whom I can share my ambitions, my goals, and my struggles.
Every year, as our team brainstorms the content and flow of the event, I push for more networking opportunities. This year promises to be the best yet on that front.

4. Progress takes time

I have been told that millennials can be impatient. But when it comes to meeting our goal to get more women, and people, for that matter, to join our industry, I think we all can get a little impatient. Progress takes time and is anything but easy. And yet, while we may not see immediate results, we are blazing the trail.

Reaching the peak is a journey. I hope you’ll join me at our 2018 Women with Drive Leadership Summit, starting with a reception on February 28 and continuing with the full-day event on March 1 in Toronto.

Learn more by clicking here.

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Isabelle Hétu is the Director of Programs and Services at Trucking HR Canada, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to addressing the human resources challenges and opportunities in the trucking and logistics sector. Isabelle oversees key initiatives including Top Fleet Employers, diversity programs and compensation benchmarking. As a respected leader in HR, Trucking HR Canada works with various associations, government departments and industry professionals to ensure employers have the skilled workforce needed for today and in the future. Feel free to learn more at truckinghr.com, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us @TruckingHR for tips, practical resources and more. We can be reached by e-mail: info@truckinghr.com.

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  • I had to give up my class 1 after decades. In a man’s world. You don’t get be hired.
    Tired of being over qualified for positions that are given too young men that have no experience in this industry.

  • I work for New Zealand Express Transport, in NZ, specialising in shipping container movement. We have about 40 trucks/trailers; and six of these are driven by women, from 12 – 50 tonne. The company supports us, and treats us as equals. There are great employers out there!