The Trucking Industry's Untapped Talent Pool: Womenby Jana Ritter - Published: 5/02/2013
As carrier companies across North America continue to struggle for solutions to the on-going truck driver shortage, Deborah Lockridge, (who has been a truck journalist for 21 years), taps into an entire reserve and overlooked demographic of talent. Finding that the percentage of women drivers has not gone up appreciably in the last couple of decades, Lockridge says this has important implications for the driver shortage and the industry needs to do a better job of educating them about career opportunities available in trucking.
While there are more women reporters and editors covering the industry than when Lockridge started over 20 years ago and the WIT association (Women In Trucking) has helped bring together women in all levels from truck maker executives to truck drivers, there is still a shortage of women in the industry overall. Lockridge has also been talking to enough fleet executives to know there is serious concern about the looming driver shortage, if not already a major problem for many. So, as the industry is scratching their heads about where to fish for new talent, Lockridge says that women are an entire demographic of untapped talent that need to be a part of the industry's expanding pool.
Many truck manufactures such as Volvo, have already made this much a more feasible reality with specialized equipment offering automatic and automated transmissions and other female-friendly new models. But the trucking industry must do an entire over haul of its male-only stigma and develop a female-friendly culture as well.
Pointing out that many other professions once dominated by men have made great strides. Lockridge reminds us that the majority of students enrolled in medical and law school today are women and that armed forces have even started allowing women into combat roles. Now it's time for trucking to do some catching up. Not only does the industry need more female truck drivers, Lockridge that it's also important for women to be involved in all areas of trucking companies, especially in leadership positions. Not only would they immediately improve the female-friendly image of a company recruiting new drivers, women would be good for the company as a whole.
According to Lawrence A. Pfaff and Associates, a Michigan-based human resource consulting firm a five-year study found that female managers — as rated by their bosses, themselves and the people who work for them — were rated significantly better than their male counterparts. This difference extends beyond the “softer” skills such as communication, feedback and empowerment to such areas as decisiveness, planning and setting standards.
When Sandra Ambrose-Clark, president of ESJ Carrier Corp., told her daughter's teacher she was up for the Influential Woman in Trucking Award from, the teacher was surprised. How could the vivacious and well-dressed woman with an impeccable manicure, be in trucking? “I think it's an image thing,” said Ambrose-Clark during a WIT panel discussion at the Truckload Carriers Association meeting last month. An image the industry needs to change.