How fleets are successfully recruiting women

The secret to attracting more women to your trucking company is that there is no secret.

“It’s not magic,” says Jane Jazrawy, CEO of online training firm CarriersEdge, of what it takes to make a company attractive to women. “It has really just been a failure of imagination that every fleet has not been able to get to 8-10% women at this point. It’s a lot of common sense.”

Jazrawy has unique insights into how fleets succeed in achieving above average female representation, as an administrator of the Truckload Carriers Association’s Best Fleets to Drive For competition. The evaluation process examines the percentage of women within an organization and what the company does to appeal to them.

Some winning strategies include: having female representation in management and on committees; offering training on violence in the workplace and human trafficking; providing finishing programs that encourage women and allow ridealongs with spouses; supplying personal safety devices [such as panic buttons] in the cab; not allowing poor treatment of drivers by shippers; involvement with driver-focused associations such as the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada; offering recruiting programs specifically designed for women with female trainers; and making women in the company visible on social media and in advertising.

Ellen Voie, CEO of Women in Trucking, adds, “Best practices show that more women in leadership roles in a trucking company will result in more women as drivers, technicians and in lower-level jobs, because diversity of thought leads to a more diverse workforce.”

Drivers who belong to Women in Trucking often tell Voie that safety is their number one priority when choosing a fleet to work for – something that’s equally valued by men.

“That includes the maintenance of the equipment, the perception of when a driver should or should not drive in inclement weather or in areas of civil unrest, and how safe the loading dock is for drivers,” she adds. “Is it well lit, secure, or in a dangerous neighborhood? Those are all aspects of a carrier’s safety culture.”

Melissa Skelton (Photo: Supplied)

Skelton’s success

In Canada, only 3.5% of professional truck drivers are women. But don’t tell that to Skelton Truck Lines, where 30.6% of its drivers are female.

“We have always been a trucking company that has recruited a lot of women in-house,” human resources manager Melissa Skelton said in an interview, adding the fleet has nine female managers heading divisions such as recruitment, accounting, operations, safety and compliance, customer service, and quality assurance. “The more we got female bodies in the building, the more we started to attract female drivers.”

Recruitment manager Jessica Kapasky, agreed that women are drawn to companies with female representation in management. The fact Skelton offers team freight also helps, as women can run with their husbands.

But it’s not always the husband who brings his spouse on-board.

“We are currently onboarding a team where the wife has 15 years of experience and her husband just changed careers and got his licence,” said Kapasky. “It goes both ways.”

For solo female drivers, having dedicated lanes is attractive, Kapasky adds, since it gives them more predictable home time.

Skelton also focuses on facilities, ensuring they are clean and well equipped with women’s washrooms, a full kitchen and laundry services. It also offers a company-branded women’s clothing line.

Kapasky has found women are more attracted to structure, so the company has built its training and onboarding programs with that in mind. A security manager is available 24/7 if they experience any troubles on the road and facilities are monitored around the clock.

Skelton is also meticulous about the appearance of its equipment, which appeals to women.

“They appreciate the cleanliness of our equipment, which is pristine at all times,” Skelton said.

Drivers are permitted two free truck washes per week to keep that equipment gleaming, and all Skelton’s trucks are three years old or newer. Drivers are allowed to choose their own mattress and upgraded spec’s include leather seats and power inverters.

For Kapasky, all those perks make recruitment easy. She said Skelton has a wait list of about 20 drivers in Canada, and 90% of its new hires come from referrals. Its retention rate is 95.7%.

Lisa Myall is a team driver for Skelton Truck Lines. (Photo: Supplied)

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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