FreightWaves, the world’s largest freight news organization, has thrown its support behind the Lady Red Wolves, the newest professional soccer team in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The Lady Red Wolves on Tuesday named FreightWaves, which is based in the heart of Freight Alley, as the team’s first primary kit sponsor as part of a three-year deal.
FreightWaves has actively sought ways to deepen its community engagement, and this deal is part of that effort, officials said. But the partnership with the women’s team is about more than just paying for uniforms. It’s part of a push to highlight the growing role of women in the historically male-dominated world of freight and beyond.
While female participation in the freight industry—which includes trucking, rail, maritime, air cargo and related brokerages and distributions hubs—may vary from mode to mode, women overall make up just a fraction of workers in the freight sector. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women comprised a mere 6 percent of truck drivers in 2016.
“It’s incumbent upon freight industry participants to do more than talk about expanding and supporting opportunities for women,” said Craig Fuller, founder of FreightWaves. “We have to act.”
As CEO of FreightWaves, Fuller has pushed to highlight the accomplishments of women in freight through the news organization he founded. But in order to truly move the needle, Fuller has called for the company to take a more active role in creating and cultivating opportunities for women to thrive, both inside and outside of freight.
“FreightWaves has the ability to leverage its position as the biggest player in freight news to promote the role of women in freight from the driver’s seat to the boardroom,” Fuller said. “But we also have a responsibility to lead by our actions.”
There are practical reasons for this. The realities of today’s economy leave no room for discrimination, Fuller said. With unemployment at or near historic lows in multiple industries, businesses need all of the qualified help they can get.
Companies that exclude women or any other group risk more than just a lawsuit. They risk losing access to the top-tier talent that could make or break their future. They risk competitors capitalizing on such a self-imposed brain drain. And ultimately, they risk being marginalized and eventually put out of business by the very women they turn away.
“Over the past year, we have been focusing on recruiting individuals to our company with more diverse backgrounds who may have not considered the excitement of joining a technology startup in the freight industry,” Fuller said. “We believe that the Lady Red Wolves can be a platform to introduce new opportunities at FreightWaves to competitive and ambitious women.”
While sponsoring a soccer team won’t cure all of society’s ills—nor will it reverse by itself the trend of low female particulation in the freight sector—it’s a step in the right direction, Fuller said. And the FreightWaves team, which Fuller expects will grow to 260, is excited about attending the games.
“Part of growing into a world-class organization is offering world-class perks, and our partnership with the Lady Red Wolves allows the FreightWaves family to enjoy some of Chattanooga’s most exciting soccer action on a regular basis,” said Lisa McGinty, chief marketing officer for FreightWaves. “We can’t wait to cheer for the hometown team.”
The team is expected to reveal its schedule in coming weeks, according to a news release.