March 8 is International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the many remarkable achievements by women and to recognize the all too many challenges still ahead.
That Trucking HR Canada’s Women with Drive Leadership Summit is held around this date is no coincidence. The timing is meant to draw attention to recruiting, retaining, and mentoring women in Canada’s trucking industry.
Our latest Summit was in Toronto on March 2, and after it was over I received more e-mails, calls, and notes of thanks than anything I have ever been involved in throughout my 25-year career. All positive, many with excellent suggestions on how to keep “moving the needle,” as Stephania Varalli challenged us all to do in her opening remarks.
Some reflections on the day:
Going global is a good thing
One highlight was our international panel sharing their stories, challenges, and successes. How refreshing to learn we are not alone here in Canada. I’m disappointed that we didn’t have more time—the panel session was close to two hours long and delegates still wanted to hear more.
More men need to be part of the conversation
Cultural shifts start at the top, and there are a lot of men at the top (89% of trucking and transportation managers are in fact male). One comment I heard is that we need more men in the room, confirming yet again that recruiting and retaining women isn’t a women’s issue but a business issue. We need to engage industry leaders—men and women—to empower more women to success in trucking.
HR really does boil down to how you treat your people
We talk a lot about innovative HR approaches, and treating your people well. I’m sure that every HR person who attended the Summit will agree that Mandy Rennehan of Freshco really is in her own category.
As she spoke, I was thinking that her unorthodox approaches would benefit from some structure. But in the end, she is successful because she is passionate, works her butt off, pays her people well, and treats them with respect. Employees who can align with her work ethic profit considerably and have fun while doing it. They also appear to be part of some kind of movement rather than just a retail construction company doing good work.
I am not surprised that her workforce is largely comprised of millennials.
Passion is a game-changer
The trucking industry is sitting on a gold mine of talent: close to 200 people in the room were there because this issue matters.
They are passionate. And passion drives good business results.
We were told that economies do better when women do better. Trucking has loads of women who are passionate about making a difference and contributing professionally.
My takeaway? Trucking can do more. We need to continue tapping into this incredible talent that is right in front us. Six leading Canadian women professionals took the stage and blew us away with their insights, professionalism, and business savvy. Not a coincidence that each of them represents a successful transportation company.
On International Women’s Day, I’d like to think we’ve moved the needle on recognizing what women can bring to Canada’s trucking industry.
Now we’re ready to shift into a higher gear.
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