If you attended the Women with Drive Leadership Summit, you heard all the numbers. Women make up half the Canadian workforce, yet represent only 3% of drivers and technicians. Only 11% of trucking managers are women and 18% of dispatchers.
We can do better than that. Throughout the day, speakers shared tips on how the industry can make the profession more attractive to women. Here are a few that are easy to implement:
Reach out to them: Are your recruiting ads and materials inviting to women, or at the very least gender-neutral? Many women, we learned at the Summit, don’t even consider a career in trucking because they don’t know these opportunities exist. Other industries facing the same challenges (ie., mining and electrical) have done a better job reaching out specifically to women and young ladies, through their local schools or family events that are inclusive of spouses, daughters, nieces, etc.
Accommodate them: Are your facilities female-friendly? We heard of a terminal built within the past few years that didn’t have women’s washrooms installed, because there were no women on staff. They had to be retrofit once the first female driver came on-board.
Mentor them: Once you’ve brought a female driver on-board, what steps have you taken to ensure their success? We heard at the Summit of the importance of mentorship programs and how effective they can be in ensuring women stay on board and on the path to success.
Celebrate their successes: We learned many women don’t consider careers in industries such as trucking because they don’t know others who’ve achieved success in those industries. Are we doing enough to celebrate and highlight the successes and achievements of women in the industry? These accomplished women can serve as role models to others.
Create a workplace of equality: A survey by Trucking HR Canada indicated most women are satisfied with their careers in trucking, yet too many (nearly 10%) still felt they had to work harder than men to be respected. Some reported being harassed, especially by younger males in the workplace. Employers need to take a strong position in creating workplaces with zero-tolerance discrimination policies. Perhaps most interestingly, the Trucking HR Canada survey found men named ‘physical limitations’ as one of the greatest barriers to entry for women drivers. Women, on the other hand, felt this was a non-issue, and instead listed things such as more flexible hours as the best ways to make the industry more appealing to them.
Evan MacKinnon, CEO of MacKinnon Transport, may have said it best, when he mentioned that all the things women want from the industry are the same things men want, too. Men may just be more willing to tolerate less. Resolving the issues that are keeping women from entering the industry will also attract more men, Evan contended, and I won’t argue with him one bit.
Want more coverage of the Summit? Check out these links:
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies