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Dear Facebook friends who post, comment or lurk on the Women In Trucking (WIT) Association Facebook group. Our admins are professional drivers who are just like you. They all have full time jobs driving a truck for a living, however, they have volunteered (no, they do not get paid) to spend their time, energy and passion to keep this page as a resource, a place to network and a safe place to learn….for YOU. Yes, you.

They spend countless hours removing profanity, attacks on other people, recruiting ads and negative comments that are not meant to be helpful.

How about giving them a day off?  What if everyone on our Facebook group actually abided by the rules that YOU agreed to when you were accepted into the group? Let’s allow them ONE day to sit back and have some relief from the negativity and spitefulness.

When you asked to join the WIT Facebook group you agreed to never recruit drivers on this page, but the thought of nearly 11,000 professional drivers in one place is too much for you to follow the rules. Can you imagine how our Facebook group could turn into a recruiting center if we allowed you or any others to post your recruiting ads for drivers? If you want drivers, check out the Career center on the Women In Trucking website and pay for an ad like everyone else. 

We have many new or soon to be professional drivers who turn to our Facebook group for advice or support. Please refrain from making fun of them. You were new to this industry at one point, and I hope that you had someone who you could ask for advice or just a little reassurance. The only stupid question is the one that’s not asked, so if some of the requests for information seem to be uninformed, then let them use this group to learn. Be helpful, not hurtful.

In regard to posting, how about NOT attacking the person because he or she has a different opinion than you regarding their carrier, the job or the shippers, truck manufacturers or anything else? Your opinion is not more valid than theirs, and if you want to point out a FACT they might not have considered, then use data, not emotion, to respond.  

Be civil and do not attack the person’s character but address the statement or opinion. Calling someone names is truly NOT going to benefit anyone and attacking a person for their viewpoint is so unprofessional.

If you do have an opinion about a company that might be a dues-paying member of the Women In Trucking Association, keep this in mind. You might not like a particular carrier, shipper or truck manufacturer, but give reasons WHY you were disappointed. We truly don’t care about your brother in law’s uncle’s grandma’s second cousin’s experience at that company. Second and third hand opinions will not be tolerated. If you want to share a personal experience, we welcome it, but it must be YOUR experience.

Another rule on the WIT Facebook group is that you are not allowed to post photos of truck accidents. Why? Because you’ve seen way too many on the road, and we don’t need to relive these sad, horrific moments again in social media. Please respect this rule and keep it positive. It’s something the admins will delete every time, so abide by the rules and leave out the negative graphics about your fellow drivers who were involved in a crash. 

One of the things I love about this industry is how generous professional drivers can be, but please don’t ask to post a GoFundMe or any other site asking for money. The admins delete hundreds of these annually, and although they appreciate your request, they can’t allow any posts asking for money for a fellow driver or a family member because it would become unmanageable. I send people to the Saint Christopher’s Fund (www.truckersfund.org) all the time.  

Is it really that hard to stay focused on creating a group that supports, nurtures, educates and allows a safe environment for both female and male drivers and those who support them? Is it that hard to read the rules and when you agree to them, then abide by them?

Let’s give our very hardworking admins a break and abide by the rules on the Women In Trucking Association Facebook group. And it wouldn’t hurt to thank them once in a while either.  

Thank you Deb, Cindy, Margaret, Linda, Lori, Mary, Pam, Victor, Marie, Shannon and Tracy Lynn. You’re the best.

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Imagine you are a 24-year-old female who decides to become a professional driver. You attend a truck driving school during the day for three to six weeks. You proudly display your newly earned commercial driver’s license to the recruiter, who promises you a great job with new equipment and a friendly dispatcher.   

You then learn that you need to go out on the road with a trainer, a 58-year-old man with whom you will be sharing the cab of a truck, including the bunk area, for the coming weeks. Regardless of his clean record, his paternal demeanor or his soft smile, the thought of sharing a small space with a stranger of the opposite sex could be terrifying.

A recent 20/20 segment hosted by Diane Sawyer titled, “My Reality: A Hidden America” interviewed women who had been sexually assaulted by male trainers. One was told she would have to have sex with her trainer before he would “pass” her. Some of these women told Sawyer they carry knives and other weapons for protection.

Is this the industry we are promoting to women? Would you encourage your daughter to enter an environment that pairs men and women in a training situation with a bunk only inches away?

Some carriers have taken steps to minimize the possibility of sexual harassment by training women in day cabs to return each night. Others have turned to a same-gender training policy. Prime, Inc. adopted the same gender training policy in 2003 after the EEOC filed a Title VII violation against the carrier for sexual harassment toward a female trainee. 

Prime Inc. was then (again) found guilty of violating Title VII because its policy discriminated against women because some female trainees faced a delay in obtaining a female trainer. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  claimed the company “denied employment opportunities to [women].”  

The EEOC attorney went on to state, ”women are entirely capable of understanding and assessing the risks of truck driving.” Really? Should women be expected to deal with unwanted sexual advances because they are “CAPABLE OF UNDERSTANDING” these risks?

This claim is alarming in so many ways. How can we, as an industry, expect women to be fully prepared for sharing a very small space, which includes sleeping quarters, with an unrelated individual of the opposite sex? Did the court even consider the proximity of the sleeper berth in its decision?  They should.

Recently I learned about research by Dr. Jennifer Hirsch and Dr. Claude Mellins who spent years interviewing college students to better understand “how the hidden forces of campus ecosystems [affect] how and when assault happens.” They learned that when students socialize in dorm rooms where a bed is present, the incidence of sexual assault increases. The claim is that sex is often enabled by opportunity.  I reached out to Dr. Hirsch to ask for her insight into how the proximity of a bed in a training situation could increase the incidence of sexual assault for professional drivers.  She has agreed to work with us to better understand these issues as they apply to our industry. 

Women In Trucking Association understands that not all carriers can or want to adopt a same-gender training policy, but we assert that they should have this OPTION if they so choose.  Consider the example of the Hooters chain of restaurants. Whether you eat there or not, you’ve probably seen the skimpy tank tops and short orange shorts worn by the (female) servers. How can Hooters limit their criteria to women only?

There is a way to discriminate in employment under a provision called the “Bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). Hooters defended their hiring practices by claiming their “restaurant concept…includes certain ambiance requirements.”  

The Bona fide occupational qualification allows employers to consider a quality or attribute in hiring that might constitute discrimination in other contexts. For example, airline pilots face mandatory retirement at age 65. A male clothing manufacturer can specify a male model for advertising purposes.

Perhaps we should consider allowing carriers to use the BFOQ for training purposes IF THEY SO CHOOSE. There’s no “one size fits all” solution, so the fact that Hooters hires female servers doesn't mean Olive Garden must do the same. It’s an option. 

We’ve taken this to the next level and met with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator, Martinez, and Deputy Administrator Gautreaux to ask for their support. We are not asking the FMCSA for regulatory intervention but wanted to be sure they were in agreement that this should be an optionfor carriers. They both felt it was a viable solution but wanted us to secure industry support. 

Since the EEOC won its case against same-gender training policies in the court, we are asking for legislative solutions to this issue. Congressman Michael Gallagher (R-WI) has agreed to support this action and is currently working on a way to include the Bona Fide Occupational Qualification into future legislation. We recently gave Congressman Gallagher a ride-along with a female driver to better understand these concerns.

If you are willing to provide your support for the OPTION to invoke the BFOQ to support the opportunity for a carrier to adopt a same-gender training policy, please contact me (ellen@womenintrucking.org). The more industry support we have, the better our case will be to advance this issue.

We are not asking anyone to change their training process. We are only seeking relief for carriers who CHOOSE to adopt a same-gender training policy in the future. Your backing will help. Will you help us ensure a safer environment for future trainees with your support? I look forward to hearing from you.

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I recently attended a conference for warehouse professionals. I was intrigued by one of the sessions titled, “Managing Carrier Friendly Warehouses” and decided to attend. The facilitator asked the audience how many were from the warehouse industry and how many were from the carrier side.

Apparently, I was the only person in the room interested in how these executives were working on becoming more “carrier friendly.” I was asked to give them some ideas on how they could better accommodate drivers. 

My list included a nice lounge with fresh fruit and snacks, comfortable chairs to sit in and showers and rest rooms for both men and women. I suggested they include free wi-fi and make available a “courtesy car” if the driver wants to leave the facility while he or she is waiting for a load. 

The people in the room looked at me as if I had lost my mind. One man shook his head and said there was no financial incentive to accommodate drivers and in fact, their goal was to “turn and burn,” (load them and get them on their way) instead of allowing drivers to stick around. 

So, I suggested that at the very least, they treat the drivers as professionals and look at the environment to see if it’s actually hostile to the men and women who pick up and deliver at their warehouses. I asked them if they ever looked at the signs in the warehouses that were so negative. Instead of “NO DRIVERS ALLOWED,” how about “Employees only?” 

One warehouse manager agreed, as he was shocked to learn that the warehouse he was hired to run had signs on the rest room doors, telling drivers they were not welcome to use the facilities. He took the signs down and instead replaced them with, “please leave the rest room as you find it.”  (Much friendlier!)

These warehouse professionals did not understand that their negative attitude toward drivers could actually be hurting them, as carriers are looking at shippers who openly display their disdain for professional drivers.

Women In Trucking Association has partnered with the folks from Dock411 to help rate these shippers. In addition to a map of the facility, there is a list of amenities, such as free wi-fi, overnight parking, rest rooms, etc. The information is provided by the shipper or is crowd sourced by drivers themselves. 

There are three questions we asked to determine how “carrier friendly” the warehouse really is; (1) were you treated as a professional, (2) did they get you in and out in a reasonable amount of time, (3) were there restroom facilities available?  Each month we get a report from the app developers and as the ratings are increased, we will look at the truly carrier friendly facilities and perhaps, create a way to acknowledge their efforts. For the lowest ranking warehouses, it might prompt a discussion with the management team.

Of course, drivers are accountable for their behavior as well, and the shippers also created a list of desirable actions on the part of the driver or carrier. They wanted notice if the truck will be delayed and they asked that the driver be prepared with a load number, placards as needed, and the proper securement equipment.

That doesn’t seem like too much to ask from the carrier side. One of the consistent topic of conversation was about good communication. This includes keeping the receiver informed and staying in touch with the customer when delays occur.

Someday, I hope the warehouse managers won’t be so stunned when I mention things like w-fi or showers for drivers. Maybe they will start to see the value in treating every driver as a professional. Maybe someday we won’t need a session on how to manage a “carrier friendly warehouse.”

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“Those who have the ability to be grateful are the ones who have the ability to achieve greatness,” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free.

When was the last time you received a hand written thank you note, or a card just to let you know someone was thinking of you? If you’re like most people, it’s probably been too long. When was the last time you wrote a thank you note?

If you know me personally, you’ll know that I am a firm believer in writing thank you notes. Apparently, I instilled that same conviction in my children, as the thank you notes from both my son and daughter are sure to follow a gift, party or act of kindness. I keep them to remind myself of the good times we shared.

Most people use the excuse that they either don’t have the materials handy or they don’t have the time to write out and mail a thank you note.  Both excuses are just a reflection of your priorities. Keep notes, pens and stamps in plain sight so you can take a moment to send your thoughts without much effort.

What’s more fun than receiving a note or card after a long day in the office or a difficult day at school. A note is something tangible that reminds you that the sender is thinking of you.

One young woman kept every card her mother had sent her after she left home. Later, she used them as decorations at her wedding by cutting hundreds of little hearts out of the cards and spreading them across the banquet tables. The groom explained to the family and friends that the decorations were the result of over 100 cards his new mother-in-law had sent to his new wife. 

We were all taught to say thank you and to acknowledge kindness, but it seems that civility has been replaced by self-centeredness.  We refuse to show our appreciation to someone because THEY haven’t shown appreciation to us! Where does it begin? Perhaps with you!

If you’ve been reading this blog you’ll know about the campaign of #SteeeringTowardKindness. At Women In Trucking Association we make it a priority to showcase acts of kindness by our members. From sharing home cooked meals (truck cooked meals?) with strangers, to paying for a shower for a homeless person or even offering money for a ride home, professional drivers are some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met. However, drivers are also some of the most under-appreciated folks as well.

Delivering a load on time doesn’t win any favors, but if you miss your appointment you’ll hear about it. Keeping your truck in top shape is expected, but if a tail light is out on the trailer, you will be penalized. Do we really need to wait for a week in August to honor our professional drivers for their hard work?

Author Gregory Smith asked respondents to list their greatest dissatisfaction at work for his book, Here Today, Here Tomorrow, found the top answer to be a lack of appreciation. Yet, when companies make an effort to show their gratitude, sales are increased, productivity is raised and happiness is positively affected by employees. Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?

How can you help us in our efforts at #SteeringTowardKindness? Share your stories with us. Send someone a note or a card and watch his or her reaction. Stick a post it note where they’ll be sure to see it. Pay for the meal of the person behind you at the fast food restaurant.  Donate to a worthy cause in someone else’s name. Leave a generous tip.

What can you do to show your appreciation? Check out www.randomactsofkindness.org for ideas and then share them with us on the Women In Trucking Association Facebook page. We’ll share them and spread the good vibes.

By the way, the young woman who saved her mother’s cards and cut them into hearts for her wedding was my daughter. To this day it gives me overwhelming feelings of being appreciated.

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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.

For more information about the  Image Team, visit http://www.womenintrucking.org/wit-image-team or call 888-464-9482.

Front, (l-r) Carol Nixon, Cindy Kaps, Jeana Hysell, Stephanie Klang, Felicia Berggren, Deb LaBree
Back (l-r) Julie Matulle, Brooke Held-Sudimak, Allyson Hay, Brooke Mosley, Wyzeena Heeny, Gretchen Jackson, Jodi Edwards

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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.

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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. 

  • Share everything 
  • Play fair
  • 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.

Why?

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.

#SteeringTowardKindness

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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! 


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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

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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. 

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