Don’t be fooled by her reserved nature and soft voice. Karine Goyette is one of the most influential women in Quebec’s trucking industry. At 40, she is executive vice-president of C.A.T. Inc., and one of only three women to have served as president of the Quebec Trucking Association (QTA).
Her father is the fleet’s president. Her sister, Annie, serves as executive vice-president with a focus on sales. Karine focuses on operations.
She’s focusing on the industry’s broader needs, too.
“C.A.T. was a low-profile company at one time, but if we’re going to get things done, we have to get involved. Criticism does not provide solutions,” she says.
The role at the QTA isn’t the first example of that commitment to getting things done.
From 2014 to 2017, she served on the Trucking Profitability Strategies Conference board of trustees at the University of Georgia. “When my sister and I started attending this conference in 2008, in a room of some 350 people, there were maybe five women. It was a little intimidating to be among these big American carriers,” Goyette recalls.
By 2015 she was serving on the Ontario Trucking Association’s board of directors. The QTA approached her twice about serving as its president.
“It was a great opportunity for me, but the first time I was pregnant with my daughter who is now three years old. The second time around, my partner and I knew we wanted a second child. I thought about it and accepted because the timing was right.”
Her second child, a boy, is expected to be born around the same time you read these words.
“The challenge of the presidency was going to take me completely out of my comfort zone. So I started,” she says.
The journey now involves looking for ways to attract more women into a clearly male-dominated industry. The same year Goyette began her term as president of the QTA, in 2019, Camo-route launched its Truck Driver: Objective 10% program with a goal of ensuring 10% of the province’s truck drivers are women.
The share is currently 4%.
“We had 7% female drivers at C.A.T.,” she says. “SLH Transport, which we had just acquired, was at 0.7%.”
It isn’t by accident. Her fleet has implemented several measures to recruit more women for jobs behind the wheel. Duty cycles for longhaul truckers in the U.S., for example, have been reduced from 10 days on the road and four days at home, to five days on the road and two days at home.
C.A.T. also surveyed male and female workers alike to see what could be improved. Women who responded to the survey stressed they are primarily looking for a safe environment, especially when working further afield in the U.S. They wanted toilets in their trucks rather than needing to enter truck stop bathrooms in the middle of the night, and they wanted a place to park before dark.
While the number of women at the wheel remains small, they represent half the operations team. The management team, though, that is predominantly male.
“Trucking may not yet be well known to female managers as an industry with a lot of potential. It is important to make them aware of the possibilities it offers,” she says.
“Statistics say that women need to feel that they have 70% of the qualifications before they apply for higher-level jobs, while for men it is 25 to 30%. Maybe there is a lack of confidence that keeps women from saying to themselves, ‘I can do this.’”
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