The Women In Trucking Association is a non-profit organization focused on the transportation and logistics industry. Their mission is to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.
In an effort to give more visibility to female professional drivers, the Women In Trucking (WIT) Association created an Image Team in 2015. The Image Team was designed to allow the organization a way to use female drivers for media events, trade show representation and for ride-alongs with influential people.
The competition was friendly, and more than 25 women applied to serve on the team. Five of them were selected, based on an essay, background check, and review of their professional history and driving record. If they were a company driver, their carrier was expected to support their involvement.
The five women were Stephanie Klang, (then) Con-way Truckload (now CFI, Inc.), Allyson Hay and Carol Nixon of Walmart Transportation, Wyzeena Heeny, Covenant Transport, and Ingrid Brown, owner-operator of Rollin' B, LLC.
Later, thirteen other women would be added and the original five retained. In addition to drivers, the Image Team was now expanded to include a recruiting manager, safety director, safety consultant and a training specialist. This year, the Image Team will expand into Canada to better represent the different rules and regulations of the provinces.
Image Team members were instructed in media training and were all given a red shirt for publicity purposes.
The Image Team are often called upon for media interviews. From magazines, television shows to newspaper articles, these women respond to questions about their jobs or careers in a male-dominated environment. One driver was on the Dr. Oz to talk about personal safety; another driver was featured in O, Oprah's magazine.
The Image Team members are also asked to test products, or to provide insight into everything from truck cab design, truck-stop showers, and personal safety devices. They offer their honest, and sometimes not always positive, feedback to the vendors.
You might find an Image Team member helping staff a booth at a trade show, or sometimes, even attending the show by herself as an extension of the WIT staff. Deb LaBree, a current Image Team member, was so popular at the American Truck Historical Society event, they have asked her back this year.
We ask our Image Team members to help us reach out to the non-trucking public and share their stories. One of the ways we do this is through ride-alongs. The very first ride-along occurred before the Image Team was formed, but we chose Stephanie Klang to pick up (then) National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairwoman, Deborah Hersman, in her Washington DC office for a ride in March of 2010. Stephanie patiently waited with her tractor-trailer parked in front of the L'Enfant Plaza in the heart of Washington DC. The chairwoman was delayed, and the ride finally began at the start of the rush hour. Stephanie crawled along at a very slow pace, finally reaching her destination, hours behind schedule.
Since that time, we have used Image Team members to provide rides to the former Wisconsin Secretary of Transportation Gottlieb, US Senator Ron Johnson, former Congressman Reid Ribble, the acting Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Daphne Jefferson and (then) FMCSA Administrator, Scott Darling. Administrator Darling spent two days with Stephanie Klang just before his term ended in 2017.
Image Team member, Carol Nixon, was selected to provide a ride for a safety advocate from an organization called CRASH, or Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways. This group is part of the Truck Safety Coalition, which is an organization that often opposes the trucking industry on issues concerning highway safety. The advocate, Ron Woods, had viewed professional drivers as fatigued, often drugged and careless operators. His opinion was formed when his mother, sister, and three young nephews were killed by a driver years earlier.
We met Mr. Woods for a brief lunch before he climbed into the truck with Carol. His opinion was changed during that ride, as he began to understand the trucking industry's focus on safety and passion to ensure that no one should endure the pain the Wood family endured due to the recklessness of a driver.
The Image Team's role is pretty simple, to create a positive image of the trucking industry to those outside of this business. Whether it's through the media, ride-alongs, or speaking to conference attendees, these women portray YOUR industry in a professional way.
A few weeks ago, we were approached by a producer from ABC who wanted to better understand how women in the trucking industry, specifically drivers, were treated in regards to harassment issues. The goal was to address the concern in an upcoming 20/20 segment hosted by journalist, Diane Sawyer. It would only make sense for them to approach the only worldwide organization that represents women in the trucking industry, but we knew this one was going to cover a sensitive issue.
In light of the #MeToo movement to expose the harassment women have suffered in the workplace, ABC and Diane Sawyer wanted to investigate the claims by female drivers who have been victims of workplace harassment, or worse, violence. Sawyer has investigated subjects ranging from sex trafficking to the plight of female soldiers on the battlefield. This time her focus turned to the trucking industry.
The 20/20 producer, Glenn, spent countless hours on the phone with me, trying to learn how the Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has worked to address obstacles, specific to harassment in the training environment. As an organization, our mission is to address these issues and work hard to reduce or eliminate these obstacles.
There is no other industry where men and women are partnered in training situations where there is a bed merely inches away. We understand this. When a female driver completes her training and obtains her commercial driver’s license, she will then be paired with a trainer at a carrier for a few days to a few weeks, to learn the company’s policies and procedures and to acquaint herself with the equipment, the customers and the carrier’s rules.
This is where the problem lies. One carrier was determined to protect their female drivers and instituted a same gender training policy. They were sued for millions of dollars by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) because they sometimes delayed the training for women who had to wait a few extra days for a female trainer. The company was forced to abandon this policy and suffered extravagant financial losses.
The Women In Trucking Association is a nonprofit organization with no financial ties to any government funding. However, we recognized the problem and with the help of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., the nation’s leading provider of regulatory, safely and compliance solutions, we created the Anti-harassment Employment Guide. This guide is available free to our corporate members who have unrelated individuals in the cab of a truck for training or team purposes. This document helps the driver identify, address and hopefully avoid instances where he or she feels harassed. It also includes an expectations exchange so drivers can learn to avoid issues and conversations that might make another person uncomfortable.
In addition to the guide, WIT has asked the Department of Transportation to investigate the extent of harassment for female drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has initiated a three-year study to better understand and address crimes against female drivers. WIT is intrinsically involved in this process.
Recently, WIT has offered free webinars to our members regarding sexual harassment for both drivers and those in the office to help combat and avoid this sensitive situation that could affect both men and women.
We explained to the ABC producers that the trucking industry is unique in regard to pairing a trainer and trainee for days and there doesn't seem to be a viable solution in light of the EEOC’s action. The conversation continued to focus on HOW the industry can allow men and women to be put into a situation that might create a negative experience for the female driver.
Over and over again we repeated the positive actions carriers are taking to advance the careers of their female drivers. From female driver liaisons to sensitivity training for male trainers, to panic buttons in the cab and toll-free numbers and the ability to change trainers for reasons related to just about anything offensive. We even hired Debbie and Mike Gardner of the Survive Institute to offer attendees at Mid-America Trucking Show (see our website for details) the chance to learn self-defense techniques to anyone who was concerned about his or her safety, at no charge!
There are companies who offer electronic alarm devices that will alert a phone operator if the driver pushes the button, and will even locate her (or him) through a GPS tracking service. We’ve asked the truck manufacturers to install alarms in their cabs so a driver can be alerted if an intruder tries to gain access while he or she is sleeping.
Although we continually worked to inform the ABC crew that the trucking industry is aware of the issue of harassment and is sensitive to protecting all drivers, we think the 20/20 program will show a different side.
We selected Stephanie Klang to provide a ride-along to Ms. Sawyer. We knew Stephanie would speak her mind, but we also wanted ABC to know that Stephanie has over 3.5 million safe miles to her credit and is not new to the industry. She’s a company driver for CFI in Joplin, Missouri. Stephanie was the 2017 Overdrive’s Most Beautiful Woman and if anyone was prone to harassment, wouldn’t it be related to her outward beauty as well? Don’t think Stephanie is anything but a true professional, as she has served on the WIT Image Team and is a member of the WIT Board of Directors and has also been one of the very few women on the ATA America’s Road Team.
Stephanie was prepared to give Ms. Sawyer a ride.
The producer and his cameraman staged Stephanie’s truck at 4:00 am on a Monday morning. I flew in the night before to meet with the crew, to support Stephanie and to be interviewed by Ms. Sawyer. Although I am sympathetic to professional drivers and the challenges weather brings, I’ll only share that I spent fifteen hours trying to fly to Allentown, Pennsylvania, the night before, with the last hour circling the airport trying to land in the fog. By the time I got my rental car and arrived at the hotel, I had three hours before I needed to get up and prepare for the interview.
When I arrived at the truck stop, Stephanie’s truck was full of microphones, GoPro cameras and extra lighting. Fred, her 19-year-old cat, was watching everything from the top bunk. Diane Sawyer arrived at 5:30 am and was ready to hop in the truck. I gave her a brief lesson in the three point entry before she joined Stephanie for their one hour journey to deliver her trailer in Topton.
Diane Sawyer’s driver, producer, camera man and I all followed the truck to the delivery area. Stephanie spent the hour alone with Ms. Sawyer, who probed her on how she was treated by both her carrier, the industry and her fellow drivers. They asked her to turn on the CB so they could hear the chatter, but it was quiet that morning. Stephanie is a true professional, and in hindsight, we feel the 20/20 crew was probably disappointed in the fact that she didn’t regale them with horrible stories of harassment or worse.
After we said good-bye to Stephanie, the cameras turned on me. I was aware that the focus would be on how terrible the trucking industry might be for female drivers, but I continued to repeat the positive actions we (WIT) and the industry have taken to protect both female and male professional drivers. Diane Sawyer continually asked me for data that reflects the instances of sexual harassment in the industry. Where would we even find this information? How many carriers report instances of harassment to a government entity? None! (How may female journalists have been harassed and who is reporting that data Ms. Sawyer?)
The show will air in late March, and we are ready. We know that there will be an emphasis on the victims and we are certainly anticipate we will hear stories from the women who have suffered horrible abuses during their training. Our hearts go out to each and every one of them. We regret the experiences they have endured at the hands of perpetrators who have no regard for women as professionals.
However, as an industry, we need to make sure every woman feels safe, protected and respected by all of her peers. We’re not there yet, but we don’t need a television program to share this with the non-driving public.
Maybe Diane Sawyer won’t even include the interview with me or with Stephanie, as we didn’t give them the sensationalism they craved. We’re sure they found plenty of victims, and we expect them to highlight those stories on national television. How sad these women find satisfaction in denigrating the very industry that provides their employment. How sad these women find comfort in sharing the very stories that have caused them so much torment. How sad they are being identified by an experience. How sad they are being used by a journalist who is looking only for ratings, not compassion for these victims.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to do whatever we can to eliminated any form of harassment in the trucking industry. Our mission is to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry and to address these obstacles. We hope you will support our efforts. Visit www.womenintrucking.org to learn more.
Remember the book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum? If you’ve never read it, let me give you a few of the author’s reminders.
Don’t hit people
Put things back where you found them
Don’t take things that aren’t yours
Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone
Live a balanced life
These are actually pretty simple to understand, even for adults, and I’m guessing you were told these “rules” when you were a child. If not, I am truly sorry if you didn’t learn these effortless ways to get along with the people around you.
Unfortunately, it seems as if many of us have either forgotten or just ignore these minimal ways to avoid conflict with others. I cannot understand how people can be so cruel and negative. Look at the social media posts and you’ll see hatred and anger. Listen to the CB radio and you’ll hear some pretty nasty things from those anonymous voices coming over the radio.
When someone says something rude or hateful to me, my response to them is always, “Was that meant to be helpful?” You can also ask them if they are intentionally trying to hurt you. Sometimes people don’t realize how angry they sound and maybe they don’t mean to sound so hurtful.
Another thing to consider is whether it is about you or if it’s really about them. In other words, don’t assume YOU are the focus. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received is to “Assume good intent.” When someone does something that YOU find offensive, ask yourself if it was really directed at you, or maybe it’s something they’re dealing with.
For example, that person who left you in the dust at an intersection just might have an ill child or a pregnant wife in the back seat. Maybe they were just diagnosed with a terminal illness. You just don’t know the reason for their haste or their distraction. But….it’s not always about you.
If giving them the finger makes you feel better, then you need to reconsider how your actions reflect your character. Swearing at anyone doesn’t help create a positive relationship. My mother always said that using profanity means you’re not smart enough to find the proper word. BLEEP!!!
The trucking industry seems to have its share of anger. People Tweet, post and blog such nasty things about others, and I can tell you I have been the target often. My response is that these people must have a lot of frustration and they want to spread it. That’s their problem. I refuse to allow it to negatively affect MY day.
In fact, this blog is to start a movement. Let’s change the trucking industry and start helping one another. Let’s remind ourselves what we learned in Kindergarten. Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone, and don’t hit people. Hitting may be physically or figuratively, like on social media. Stop hitting!
My challenge to you is to be kind. I’ve started this movement with the hashtag #SteeringTowardKindness. It’s similar to the Women In Trucking tag line, #SteeringTowardDiversity. Let’s work on making our industry a more accepting and warm environment.
A recent Gallup report claimed that sixty-five percent of employees have not received ANY recognition or appreciation for a job well done in the past twelve months. Maybe you feel the same. Maybe you haven’t had someone thank you in over a year. Let’s change that.
Help me transform the trucking industry into a more welcoming place. Maybe we can reduce turnover. Maybe we can retain the drivers who enter this industry without a true understanding of the challenges and opportunities. Let’s help them, not ridicule them. Let’s show them some kindness.
My challenge for you is to take one week, yes, only one week. Say one thing nice to someone EVERY day. Share your experience with us on #SteeringTowardKindness. Thank the person who cleans your shower or pours your coffee. Help the driver who needs a spotter to back into the dock. How did it make you feel to share a smile with that person?
Let’s make the trucking industry a better place for everyone. Give it a week and let me know how it changes you.
Listen to the Women of Supply Chain Series on 2 Babes Talk Supply Chain where they focus on women with careers in supply chain. They cover topics like women in leadership, good corporate citizenship and about the incredible things they are doing in the community and to support the community. Ellen Voie was one of their first interviews.
In this episode, Ellen talks about women in leadership and the importance of mentorship in furthering your career. This episode is for EVERYBODY! men, women, young women just starting out in their careers. You will be amazed at the community that Women in Trucking has created and want to be a part of it by the end of the episode, I guarantee that!
American Author and Management Expert Kenneth Blanchard once said, “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.”
Too often we hear people complaining about their circumstances, but they don’t seem to make any effort to change the situation. They’d just prefer to grumble and let others deal with the same issues.
How can YOU make the trucking industry a better place for all of us? First, think about how your negative remarks invite more criticism. Calling someone names or making harmful comments don’t help anyone. In fact, it just puts the other person on the defensive which prompts them just to shut you out.
The ability to influence means you can change other people’s behavior in a positive way. You DO have an opportunity to make a difference, but there are points to consider in the process. We’ve all heard the adage, “there’s strength in numbers.” You can easily break a twig in two, but grab a handful of sticks, and it’s much more difficult.
As an association, Women In Trucking represents both women and men employed in the trucking industry. Our board of directors has determined that as a group, we should provide influence to the industry. From legislators to regulators to carriers and even manufacturers and truck stops. Our goal is to be a resource.
How can we be the group people turn to for information? We ask our members for insight and advice. We often send out surveys to find out what issues are creating challenges for our members. We use these responses to influence those in authority to make changes.
For example, a truck manufacturer asked us for our member’s input on their truck cab design and ergonomics. In addition to surveys and personal interviews, we asked our Facebook page group for their comments. We didn't allow complaints, as we were specific about asking about how to make the truck cab better. The results were amazing, and as of today, the manufacturer has implemented many of those suggestions in the new models.
Another member, a truck stop chain, asked for our member’s feedback on their showers. The comments ranged from disgust over the dirty air vents to a lack of air exchange in humid weather. Again, the results were not only well received, but changes were made and the truck stop managers, who are required to shower in their facilities, are also responsible for making sure the vents are cleaned, and there is proper ventilation in every shower.
These are great examples of ways to make a driver’s life a little better with a more ergonomic cab and cleaner shower facilities. What about things you might think you can’t influence? What about shippers and receivers? How can we change the experience at the loading dock?
Women In Trucking has partnered with a software developer that provides shipper information, including receiving hours, the availability of overnight parking, wi-fi and even shows a Google earth map of the facility. To support our drivers, they’ve also added three questions for us to monitor for our members. First, were you treated as a professional? Next, did you get in and out in a reasonable amount of time? Finally, were there restroom facilities available?
Each month Women In Trucking receives a report that is user (driver & shipper) generated and the three questions are reviewed for negative driver experiences. The app is called Dock411 and is free for drivers. For shippers who treat drivers as second-class citizens, our goal is to help them understand and appreciate the role these women and men play in delivering their products.
In addition to feedback from surveys and apps, the Women In Trucking Association has an Image Team to give media interviews and more importantly, to provide ride-alongs with our elected and appointed officials. These female drivers take the individual along for a day or two and talk about life on the road, and how regulations affect her in her job. We've invited Senators, Congresspeople, Federal Motor Carrier Administrators, National Transportation Safety Board leaders and more. These are the people who create and enforce the laws for professional drivers, and we believe every one of them should have a better understanding of how their rules affect all of us. Our goal is to make sure they have some experience to draw upon when considering legislation.
We can influence others in a positive way by educating them and helping them learn from our members. Remember Blanchard’s quote, “the key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” You can help us influence positive change in the trucking industry. Join Women In Trucking Association.
On December 21st, 2018, the trucking industry lost an amazing person. Not only was Sandy Long a professional driver, but she was also a writer and blogger, an advocate for her fellow drivers and more importantly, she was a friend.
Sandy came from humble beginnings and started her driving career working various jobs in a carnival. She moved from the office to the cab of a truck and never looked back. Her most recent driving job was with Weston Transportation based in the Kansas City area.
Sandy was passionate about helping other drivers and became active in the Women In Trucking Association (WIT) by posting on the driver message board. After the creation of a WIT Facebook page, Sandy offered to help monitor the group and ultimately became the lead admin and grew the Facebook group to nearly 11,000 members.
In addition to her passion for Women In Trucking Association, she was a proud member of the Owner Operators and Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). She was a contributing writer for their publication, Landline Magazine.
Sandy’s writing included a blog for WIT and contributing to Lady Driver’s website as well. She was working as a data transcriber for Dock411 after her health issues forced her off the road.
Although Sandy Long was a recognized figure in the trucking industry for many years, she was finally recognized for her accomplishments by TravelCenters of America in 2015 as a “Citizen Driver.” The Citizen Driver award was created to honor hardworking, professional drivers by having a travel center renamed after them. Sandy Long chose the TA in Oak Grove, Missouri which bears her name to this day.
Sandy was truly supportive and encouraged drivers and cheered them on. She was especially compassionate for female drivers and called many of them, “Sister.” She was a mentor and a coach and had close relationships with the admins on the WIT Facebook page. Tracy called Sandy, “a wealth of knowledge and was no-nonsense.” Pam agreed and called Sandy a “remarkable lady.” Cindy called Sandy. “a pioneer,” and Kari said she was, “one of a kind.” These admins are all (female) professional drivers who caught Sandy’s passion to use the Facebook group as a place for teaching and mentoring.
For all of us in the trucking industry, we will miss Sandy’s firm, but kind words and actions. A memorial fund has been established at the Women In Trucking Scholarship Foundation (www.womenintruckingfoundation.org) and will be used to provide a scholarship to women seeking a career in the trucking industry. Checks can also be sent to P.O. Box 400, Plover, WI 54467-0400. All donations are tax deductible as charitable contributions.
The Women In Trucking Association's mission is simply to increase the percentage of women employed in transportation careers. Whether the role is driver, technician, safety professional, engineer, manager or one of the many other positions in supply chain, our focus is to attract and retain more women at all levels.
The Accelerate! Conference and Expo brings this goal into one very educational, but motivational and fun-filled event and this year was no exception. Although this was only our third annual conference, over 500 women and men were there to learn, network and relax. If you missed it, here are some of the things we learned:
Our keynote speaker, Valerie Alexander, charmed and challenged the audience with her insight in "How to succeed in trucking despite having female brains." Valerie also ended the conference with how to create happiness and engagement in the workplace. She asked the audience to list ten positive things that might result from a negative experience, using industry examples to illustrate the case.
Admiral Robert Wray, CEO of Citadel Fleet Safety, talked about leadership and provided lessons he learned in his four decades of experience in both wartime and peace. He challenged the audience to become more confident, but humble leaders in their organizations and provided numerous stories of action-oriented guidance from his years as a nuclear engineer in the Navy.
Former Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator (FMCSA), Annette Sandberg, shared stories from her experiences as the youngest, and first female, State Patrol Chief in the US. She encouraged the audience to maintain their sense of humor, but to establish boundaries and keep them intact without alienating others. Ms. Sandberg currently is the Principal of TranSafe Consulting, LLC, which provides transportation, safety and security consulting services.
David Coleman, known as "The Dating Doctor TM" spoke about relationship issues at work and in social settings in his talk, "Positive People Produce." Coleman's interactive presentation included a session with attendees talking about their strengths and weaknesses and using the conversation to build confidence in others and themselves. The audience learned how their words and actions can turn relationships into a positive direction that is safe, empowering and affirming.
Returning speaker, Joel McGinley, of TranStrategy Partners spoke about how to "Elevate your Game: A message of Personal Transformation." McGinley gave the attendees an understanding of what holds them back from transformational growth and how to overcome these challenges. He provided tools to empower and encourage each person to create the career they want.
Sirius/XM's Road Dog Channel's Freewheelin' host, Meredith Ochs, moderated a panel of women who offered their insight into becoming successful leaders. The three finalists for the Influential Women in Trucking Award sponsored by Freightliner participated. Traci Crane, Senior Manager of Fleet Services at CFI, Inc., Tana Greene, CEO and Founder of Blue Bloodhound and Daphne Jefferson, former Deputy Administrator of the FMCSA were the three finalists. They were joined by last year's Influential Woman in Trucking, Ramona Hood, of Genco. These four women shared their insight into how they succeeded in transportation careers and offered advice to not only believe in yourself and your professional goals, but to move beyond your comfort zone and achieve great things. Daphne Jefferson was named this year's Influential Woman in Trucking.
In addition to presentations that challenged and empowered the attendees, there were many panel discussions, lunchtime table topic conversations and plenty of industry-related talks ranging from driver health and wellness to ELD mandates. The FMCSA held a Q & A session to offer the latest rulings affecting drivers. We also announced an initiative with Expediter Services to provide funding to 150 women starting businesses in trucking.
The Women In Trucking Association initiated a Best Practices Survey to better understand how carriers that employ a high percentage of female drivers attract and retain these women. Keera Brooks of Sawgrass Logistics conducted the survey and presented the findings along with a panel of carrier executives who shared their strategies. The attendees learned that women leave companies for different reasons than men and look for different things when choosing a carrier. This research will be available to all corporate members of the association shortly and will be game-changing for carriers looking to hire more female drivers.
The entire conference was fast-paced, and jam-packed, but many attendees took the time to take a tour of the trucks feature new technologies from companies such as Autobon, Freightliner, Peterbilt, Volvo, and ZF. The Women In Trucking Volvo VNL donated by Arrow Truck Sales was also on display. This vehicle will be given away at the Salute to Women Behind the Wheel in March at the Mid-America Trucking Show.
If you missed this year's Accelerate! Conference and Expo, be sure to mark your calendar for next year's event to be held in Frisco (Dallas) Texas November 12-14. For more information, visit the Women In Trucking Association website at www.womenintrucking.org. We look forward to seeing you there!
As the trucking industry in North America looks toward women to create a more diverse workforce and to fill talent gaps, nations around the world look toward America to lead the way.
Recently, I was asked to speak at a conference in Hue City, Vietnam to share best practices the Women In Trucking Association has found in our efforts to increase the numbers of women in transportation careers.
The event was called the Women In Transportation initiative which was launched in 2011 by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative (APEC) to address the growing need to identify barriers and share best practices in four core areas. These areas include education, access to jobs, retention and leadership development.
The initial group had three objectives; to obtain baseline data on women’s participation in all modes of transportation across the economies covered by APEC, to identify best practices used to increase the numbers of women employed in transportation careers and to continue the dialogue at the Ministerial levels.
Since 2011, events have been held in Washington DC, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines, the most recent being the September event held in Hue City, Vietnam. This forum included presentations from government leaders, private sector innovators, and transportation trailblazers.
The Women In Transportation Task Force created the “APEC Women in Transportation Data Framework and Best Practices Report.” The report outlines the five pillars of focus and then identifies eighteen priority outcomes. The pillars include education, entry into the sector, retention, leadership and access and use (of transportation services.)
Women In Trucking’s Girl Scout Transportation patch is included in this report for its effectiveness in “providing critical exposure to young girls about the variety of employment opportunities in the transportation sector, including trucking, through fostering an important partnership with a popular local youth organization.”
Other initiatives setting examples of best practices include the Philippines Women in Maritime “She to Sea” mentoring forum to increase gender equality on maritime vessels. The government of Malaysia created the “Women Taxi” pilot program to promote the idea that driving a taxi is an opportunity a woman should consider when looking for a flexible and economically productive career. The Vietnam Women’s Union Model for Routine Road Maintenance program was created to not only raise the awareness of the importance of rural road maintenance, but to train local citizens in three provinces in maintaining their rural roads. The project also promoted the use of unions in organizing the training for both men and women.
At the APEC Women In Transportation Conference, three groups were selected to share their successful projects and their results in increasing women’s participation. One of the projects seemed so obvious but wasn’t that simple to resolve initially. The streets of Vietnam are filled with scooters. In fact, motor scooters are the main mode of transportation for 95 percent of drivers in the country and these drivers often have numerous passengers clinging to them as they zip along the streets.
The World Health Organization estimated that sixty percent of all traffic fatalities occurred between scooter drivers and passengers. The government made it mandatory for all scooter drivers and passengers to wear helmets. There was an issue with one group of rural Vietnamese women who belonged to an ethnic community where married women wore their hair in a bun on top of their heads. These buns did not allow the women to wear a traditional helmet, so the National Traffic Safety Committee created a helmet with a “bump” on top to accommodate the women’s hair. These women were now able to ride scooters with the required headgear in place!
At the invitation of the APEC Women in Transportation, I was asked to speak to the group about the Women In Trucking Association’s initiatives to increase gender diversity in transportation areas, focusing on leadership roles in supply chain careers. I challenged the women to become aware of stereotypes and other issues that inhibit the hiring and promotion of women in nontraditional careers.
The trip to Vietnam was truly memorable, not only in experiencing new cities and different cultures, but in meeting the passionate women (and a few men) at the event. The challenge in creating a more gender-diverse transportation workforce isn’t limited to the United States but is a topic that is being addressed around the world. I was honored to participate and share our best practices.
Do your peers often seek out your insight or advice on subjects they might be pondering? Can you point out individuals whose opinions you trust and who you might turn to for advice? A “thought leader” by definition is someone whose views on a subject are taken to be authoritative and influential.
At a recent Transportation Marketing and Sales Association conference I had the opportunity to participate in a Thought Leadership Workshop where we discussed case studies and determined the proper outcomes by influencing the other participants to support our conclusions.
During the workshop, participants were asked to name thought leaders in the area of transportation and logistics. I was honored to be identified as one of these role models, which led me to wonder how someone becomes a thought leader, and why others perceive him or her to be influential.
How do you become a thought leader? You must first identify your passion, Denise Brousseau, of the Thought Leadership Lab, suggests you define a future you are committed to transform, test your ideas on others and look for people who can help you promote this change. Be the leader, but teach others how to expand on your mission, then, connect with as wide an audience as possible and move the momentum forward.
According to Lauren Hockenson, in an article on Mashable.com, a thought leader differs from a leader by “pushing the boundaries of a particular method or industry, and then using those ideas to leverage ubiquity on social or broadcast media.” She adds, “A thought leader had earned his or her title because the person’s ideas have gone viral.”
In 2007, if you told me the Women In Trucking (WIT) Association would have 4,000 members in seven countries and would include carriers, drivers, suppliers, manufacturers, and training facilities, I would have been in disbelief. How did we gain this influence? We have a passion to increase the percentage of women employed in the transportation industry and we have built momentum with our partners and our members.
Thought Leaders, writes Brousseau, “are changing the world in meaningful ways and engage others to join their efforts.” In doing so, she adds, “they provide a method, process, guidelines or a set of best practices,” for others to follow.
A primary goal identified by the WIT Board of Directors is to be a resource. We want the association to be the first stop for any information carriers, legislators, regulators, and media are seeking. In order to be recognized as an authority, we need good, unbiased information including facts, quotes and relevant data. This is why we reach out to our members for feedback and insight, as you are the people we represent.
We continue to provide information to help you support our mission. From a “Recruiting Guide for Female Drivers,” to our “Anti-Harassment Employment Guide,” we want to take the collective knowledge of our members to share across the industry. Soon we will have a “Best Practices” guide to increase your female driver population.
The integrity of the information is increased when there is a larger group to provide the data. The information is more relevant and timely when the focus of the research is also interested in the collective outcomes.
Without the support of a wide network, you won’t gain the attention for your product or service and can’t expand your sphere of influence. People want to look up to leaders who are not only passionate about the mission but have proven momentum and the support of other influential people.
A thought leader, but being in the spotlight, is taking a risk. In other words, there is an element of risk in promoting change and then identifying it as a solution, as not all ideas result in positive consequences. Also, there will be the naysayers who prefer to denigrate your work rather than support it, but these people are usually not credible and certainly not Thought Leaders themselves.
If you are passionate about making a difference and leaving the world a better place than when you arrived, keep pushing and expanding your influence. You too, can become a thought leader. Consider these words from John Maxwell, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”
The word Uber means “very super.” Uber Freight is working to become a “very super” way to match carriers with shippers through its app.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Uber Freight’s offices in downtown San Francisco and speak with the team about the underrepresentation of women throughout the trucking industry, as well as ways to attract and retain more women into trucking careers.
The team at Uber Freight includes engineers, load planners, sales and marketing professionals and so much more. They seemed to be younger than a typical group of transportation professionals. Many of them came from a technology background, and since they are working to build an app that improves the lives of all truck drivers, they were eager to better understand the unique challenges female drivers face.
My talk focused on the need to raise awareness among women about opportunities in the trucking industry and other areas of transportation. I touched on the challenges in attracting and retaining women as drivers and leaders and offered suggestions as to how we can better address these issues. I also discussed ways WIT is working to improve conditions including truck cab design and ergonomics, harassment, and more inclusive recruiting advertising.
The presentation to the group was well received, and in addition to the four dozen or so folks in the room, the event was also broadcast to Uber Freight’s Chicago office. The questions from the Uber Freight team were focused and insightful, although I would have to admit that I learned as much from them as they learned from me.
As a separate effort from Uber Freight, Uber also has a group working on self-driving technology for both cars and trucks called the Advanced Technologies Group (ATG). The mission of Uber ATG is to create safer roads and save lives with the use of self-driving technology that will remove as much opportunity for driver error as possible. I had a chance to also visit with the ATG team and ride in one of their trucks on the highways around San Francisco. A professional truck driver was in the driver’s seat the entire time while another employee monitoring the laptop was receiving information from the truck’s LiDAR sensors.
The separate teams at Uber Freight and Uber ATG trucks are both working hard to stay ahead of the industry with the use of technology, and WIT is excited to continue working with Uber to build a “very super” future for women across the industry.
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