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NFI finds spotlighting female drivers helps recruit other women

Drive My Way CEO also advises attendees at the Women In Trucking conference to use woman-to-woman messaging.

Recruiting and retaining female drivers was tackled at the Women In Trucking conference earlier this month. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Dedicated carrier NFI had a problem.

“The national average for women [drivers in the workforce] was about 8%. Ours was about 4% –– not the best,” said Allison Geist, an NFI operations support manager, at the Women In Trucking Accelerate! Conference & Expo in Dallas earlier this month.

So in June 2018, NFI set out to boost the number of women behind the wheel. The company gathered input from 10 female NFI drivers.

“They said, ‘Show us off. Show that we can drive,’” said NFI senior operations manager Alexa Branco.

And the She Drives marketing campaign was born. The campaign marked a major shift for NFI, which had never featured a female driver in advertising throughout its 85-year history, according to Branco.

Since August 2018, the company has produced 13 She Drives videos. The campaign helped NFI earn recognition as a 2019 Top Company for Women to Work for in Transportation at the Women In Trucking conference.

“We saw a two-and-a-half times ad engagement increase,” Branco said.

The most impressive number, she said, is the 36% increase in female driver recruitment over the past 12 months.

Beth Potratz, president and CEO of Drive My Way, a personalized recruiting software designed to match drivers with jobs, agreed it is important to include female drivers in recruiting materials.

“Women need to envision themselves there,” Potratz said. “If you see the women in the advertising and you hear the voice … speaking to the women and their needs, [companies are] going to have a better chance of attracting people and getting their attention.”

Testimonials from actual drivers work, she said.

“Drivers really want to hear from other drivers because those are the people they can identify with,” Potratz said. “Women need to see that they do have opportunities to grow and develop. They need to see actual examples of people who went before them and did it.”

Personal engagement is vital in both hiring and retention of female drivers, she added.

“Everybody is expecting a personal experience. They even call your name when you order a coffee at Starbucks. Hiring is really no different,” Potratz said. “Drivers are not leads, they’re people, and they have unique, changing needs throughout their careers that need to be addressed. That’s what they’re going to be factoring in when they consider choosing a job and then staying with an organization.”

It’s important to communicate with female drivers and ask for their feedback regularly, she said.

“It’s a constant conversation. It’s not a once-a-year check-in. And then really talk about the future. ‘What’s your goal? What are you trying to accomplish? How can I help you get there?’ Career pathing is important,” Potratz said.

“Total transparency” is also key, she added, commending Schneider National for not deleting a post from a woman who had “heard so many horror stories” about trainers pressuring female driver trainees for sex.

Schneider responded –– and posted that response, Potratz said. “‘Any behavior like you described is not tolerated at Schneider and does not reflect one of our core values of respect. From Day One, all our drivers have a support system they can reach out to with any concerns.’”

Potratz urges recruiters to be upfront with job candidates.

“Be open to have the tough conversations,” she said. “People need to know what to expect. I think it’s crazy to say you’ll guarantee nothing will happen because you can’t control everything, but you certainly can say … what you won’t tolerate.”

F3: Future of Freight Festival


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.