When Ellen Voie, then Manager of Recruiting and Retention Programs at Schneider National, was given the task of attracting non-traditional groups of people, she jumped at the opportunity to introduce more women to trucking. Voie’s efforts quickly drew traction industry-wide and in 2007 she founded the Women in Trucking Association.
Voie sat down with FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller on this episode of the FreightWavesTV show “Fuller Speed Ahead” to discuss the industry’s growing number of female drivers and the best practices for attracting women to trucking, a male-dominated occupation.
“Women look at the trucking industry and don’t picture themselves in it,” Voie said. “They don’t picture themselves as a safety director or owning a trucking company or dealership. One of our biggest challenges is to overcome this image.”
The Women in Trucking Association is a non-profit organization that encourages the employment of women in trucking, celebrates their accomplishments and minimizes the obstacles women face in industry. In just 13 years, Voie said Women in Trucking Association has amassed 5,500 members across 10 different countries.
As CEO and president of the association, Voie urges transportation executives to be aware of possible unconscious male-oriented bias around the workplace. She noted cultural values such as quick-decision-making, hierarchies and power structures may unintentionally prevent women from attaining positions of power in the industry. Voie presents women as being more risk-averse, and said having someone with a different mindset at the table can introduce new perspectives in tackling challenges.
How can companies attract more women to trucking? Voie suggests social media as a great tool for recruiting and that showing ads that feature female drivers describing what they love about their job can be very effective. Voie even noted that simply asking your female staff what will attract other women to the job can be tremendously helpful. Though small in nature, doing things like offering company shirts designed for women can go a long way in making women feel more welcome in the workplace.
“We’ve struck a nerve in this industry and I want to be the disruptor,” Voie said. “I want us to come out and say this is how we can make a more female-friendly work environment for everyone. I think the industry is willing to listen.”